For many years movies, video games and even comic books themselves have pondered the question of who would in a battle between two pop culture icons. Be it the Superman vs Batman argument, or Robocop vs Terminator – or to go further afield, the characters from Mortal Kombat vs those from StreetFighter. However, aside from a few ill fated examples, such as Alien vs Predator and Freddy vs Jason, most cinematic attempts to pit heroes against each other have fallen flat. But what if a bunch of superheroes were stranded without their powers and forced to work together, and against each other, to survive in an all-or-nothing deathmatch? That is exactly the scenario proposed in All Super Heroes Must Die.
The main premise of All Superheroes Must Die features masked crusaders Cutthroat, Charge, The Wall and Shadow waking up in an abandoned town to find themselves without their superpowers, and being forced to go through a series of trials to save the remaining civilian population from certain death in a deadly game being orchestrated by super villain Rickshaw. As the challenges go on, there is tension in the ranks as it becomes clear that to succeed, not every superhero will get out alive.
The first thing that is worth nothing about All Superheroes Must Die is the incredibly misleading cover art. If you walked into a shop and picked up this DVD, you would be forgiven for assuming it was a big budget Dark Knight-esque blockbuster – especially given the tall buildings and helicopter that surround the moody figures shown looking wistfully into the distance. However, the film itself is a low budget, simple affair taking place in a few very basic locations, with little to no visual effects present. In fact, in one of the special features, writer/director/star Jason Trost actually denounces said cover art. While this doesn’t detract from the film itself, it is certainly a case of poor marketing to squeeze some extra cash out of the DVD buying public, which is pretty deplorable.
Despite the marketing faux pas, All Superheroes Must Die is a reasonably entertaining film. Trost puts in a good effort as the likeable lead, and Valmassey, Till and Merkely are mostly enjoyable, even if they do come across as a little one dimensional at points. The action set pieces are well put together and make the most of what little budget the film does have, and as a viewer I was never bored, despite the rudimentary locations and small set.
However, the key selling point for All Superheroes Must Die comes in the form of Remar. His turn as Rickshaw brings a maniacal energy, and a much needed sense of campiness to proceedings which lightens the tone of the script and prevents the film form ever straying into overly serious territory. His cackle alone is worth whatever he was paid, and brings a real sense of star power to events – something which would otherwise have been sorely lacking.
All Superheroes Must Die (or do they? You’ll have to watch it to find out) is a well-made low budget independent movie. Clearly influenced by the current superhero boom, as well as paying homage to Battle Royale at a number of points, this film takes a fresh approach to a genre that is in serious danger of stagnating as studios churn more and more mileage from the lineage of iconic characters. All Superheroes Must Die doesn’t set the world alight, but certainly goes to show that there is still room for originality even in the most overexposed genre – even if there isn’t necessarily the budget to compete with the major players.
EXTRAS ★★½ An introduction from Trost; Toronto After Dark Q&A; Theatrical Tailer; and four episodes of a bizarre programme called Blood Beasts.