How I Became a Super Hero is entertaining, funny, and genuinely engaging.
This review of the Netflix film How I Became a Super Hero does not contain spoilers.
I’m not sure which began production first, but the new French action film, How I Became a Super Hero (also known as Comment he suis devenu in superheroes), is France’s counterpart to last year’s Project Power. This and the Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt special effects-driven vehicle are practically a carbon copy of each other in terms of plot. The two main differences are this: The aforementioned film does not take itself as seriously as the latter, nor does it live or die on its special effects.
In Paris, a new society of superheroes has grown. Everyone sees them on television, and everyone wants to be one. So, a mastermind, Naja (Swann Arlaud), creates a new drug for all those developing kids out there to try. It gives them superpowers so that everyone can become their own little superhero. No more sticking around and rubbing elbows with the bottom-feeding mere mortals. Now everyone can be that special snowflake they desire.
Though, with great power comes great responsibility. And one of these entitled new heroes starts a nightclub fire. Five patrons are injured with severe burns. The French cop on the case, Gary Moreau (Pio Marmai), has been less than impressive of late. So he is matched with a new partner, Cecile Shaltzmann (Vimala Pons). She is as equally unimpressed with his mix of tardiness and arrogance as the brass is. However, when together, they complement each other well. This allows them to begin to put the pieces together to stop the widespread drug from causing an epidemic across the city.
Director Douglas Attal, working with a script from scribe Cedric Anger, which is apparently very loosely based on the novel from Gerald Bronner, toes the line of humor, action, and suspense that work well in tandem, equally. He smartly uses special effects to compliment this Hero’s plot and enjoyable characters; nor do they ever overtake the film to sacrifice the story. It has shades of the best parts of Mystery Men, combined with a special blend of traditional superhero fare.
That being said, the script isn’t exactly groundbreaking either. It has its usual tropes. While appearing smarter than most, the main plot is really a rip-off of any classic comic book incarnation of a villain. It revolves around a research lab that funds the connections between enhanced abilities and the mental health disorders associated with them. That’s the basis of most 21st-century comic book films (thank you, Christopher Nolan). It’s a nice touch how it is presented, but this is nothing new.
What ultimately makes the film work is the excellent cast. Marmai and Pons have palpable chemistry together. Marmai’s boyish charm, combined with excellent delivery of the film’s quippy dialogue and his overall comic timing to keep the film light and fun. His character can pull you through the dark later on. Which can be credited to the over-the-top ridiculousness of Arlaud’s Naja. It also doesn’t hurt that Belgian comedian Benoît Poelvoorde’s Monte Carlo is a scene-stealer here.
Netflix’s How I Became a Super Hero is not a perfect film, but it is a solidly entertaining offering. These days it’s hard these days to make a genre film that is funny, entertaining, and genuinely engaging while holding onto classic tropes. Either way, if Marmai and Pons are on board, I know a potential franchise when I see one.