I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but superhero movies are kind of a big deal right about now. Barring spikes and dips here and there, superhero movies have been gathering major force in cinemas for about 15 years, culminating in their current stance as supreme record-setting box office behemoths. Yes, they are the force to be reckoned with now, but let’s look at a different time when that wasn’t so much the case. Back when dinosaurs roamed the land… 1993.
In 1993, there was a film about a superhero, one without any kind of comic book basis whatsoever. Once a mild-mannered school teacher who wanted to help the community and the kids he taught but feared the confrontation that came with standing up for his self and others. One night, Jefferson Reed was struck by a meteor that changed him, gave him powers, and took away his fear. He became… The Meteor Man!
On one level, like I say, The Meteor Man is one of the few actual superhero movies whose central character existed solely as movie-only creation at the time of its release, instantly putting it alongside other films like Darkman, The Specials, Blankman, Hancock and… wait, is that it? Wow. There aren’t pre-made audiences for films like these in the same way that there are for other properties like Batman or the X-Men. To make a film like this takes some level of bravery, and I honestly kind of respect a movie for doing that, particularly in a climate that wasn't geared towards the superhero-heavy content.
There’s sincerity to The Meteor Man that’s actually quite charming, a genuine desire within it to inspire and instill a sense of civic pride and a want to do good in its intended audience. The main hero is a teacher who gets some of his powers from books, no chance of missing that one. And from this sincere need to engage, the film is actually able to hit on points that rest at the heart of all superhero stories, like vigilantism, personal responsibility, and knowing you can only do so much.
And some of the names that are involved in this film are kind of amazing. You tell me another movie in which you’ll find the likes of James Earl Jones, Don Cheadle and Bill Cosby sharing a cast list with Luther Vandross, Cypress Hill and Naughty by Nature. Even Frank Gorshin is in there.
Honestly, I would argue that The Meteor Man can’t actually be counted as an entirely bad film, which its reputation sort of suggests. Ultimately, it’s a heavily flawed film, but still a very charming one, a curiosity that is a much more interesting piece, even just by its very existence, than some would have you believe.
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