When one thinks of superhero films, the mind immediately jumps to Marvel or DC Comics – after all, who doesn’t know Superman or Spider-Man, and the X-Men from the Justice League. But with both these brands dominating the superhero movie genre, it’s no surprise that superhero fans have missed out on numerous great superhero movies and tv shows that aren’t from the big two.
Whether the likes of Invincible, The Boys and Hellboy are foreign to you, let us introduce to you some superhero flicks that are potentially even more foreign, especially if you are not one to watch movies with subtitles. From a Chinese Captain America, a Russian superhero group to video-game heroes hopping into the real world, here are some of the best and worst superhero movies from around the world.
The Best (Justice League/Avengers/X-Men Level)
We’re not biased but anything with Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan is immediately a hit. The movie sees gaming programmer Shekhar create an invisible virtual character called Ra.One. Ra.One later enters the real world and kills Shekhar. Violent and strong, it’s up to the protagonist of the game, G.One, to step in and put a stop to Ra.One.
Ra.One is rarity in the Bollywood industry where romance, comedy and drama films flourish. Keeping that in mind, the special effects in the movie is pretty impressive especially since it is supported by some of Bollywood’s best stars. Ra. One is a classic tale of good versus evil, making it something safe and enjoyable.
Rendel follows a masked vigilante (also called Rendel) who is out for revenge against a sinister criminal organization that has been giving out untested vaccines to civilians. Having suffered at the hands of the same organization, Rendel heads out for revenge, with hate and desire consuming him whole. That said, Rendel is violent and has been compared to the likes of DC’s Batman with his vigilantism – sans the no-kill rule.
The ‘Okay’s (The Outsiders/West Coast Avengers/Alpha Flight Level)
Guardians is exactly what you would expect from a Russian superhero film. Soviet superheroes, who have hidden their identities for a long time, assemble together to fight against a dangerous scientist and his destructive robots during the Cold War. Reviews from fans have been polarising, but the general consensus is that Guardians has some fight scenes that are almost on Marvel Studios’ level and has some charm in that these heroes have an un-ironic purpose to do something good. Most complaints were for its unintentionally funny special visual effects and a boneheaded plot.
Psychokinesis sees a father gaining new superpowers after drinking water with traces of meteor in it. He eventually reconnects with his estranged daughter who is on an anti-corporate crusade. Directed by Yeon Sang-ho (Train to Busan), Psychokinesis is a modern-day superhero origin story with underlying political themes like capitalism and police brutality. Superhero films aren’t always about kicking equally powered villains and wearing capes, and that’s okay.
The Worst (Extreme Justice/Force Works/Secret Defenders Level)
Captain China (China)
If you haven’t already heard, China has its own version of Captain America and a team of Avengers. With fans slamming the movie as a ripoff of Marvel’s works, Captain China uses elements borrowed from the American franchise only to tell the story of war declared against foreign superheroes who have found their way into China. Please tell us you see the irony too.
The movie is incredibly tacky with terrible special effects and mediocre acting. It’s unclear if this movie is meant to be taken seriously, but despite all the criticism, many have found it wildly entertaining. Curious? You can actually catch the full movie on YouTube.
“Cak, cak cak.” Or at least that’s what Cicakman says in this Malaysian superhero-comedy film series. Translated to Lizard-man, Cicakman sees a lab assistant turn into a superpowered being after accidentally swallowing a virus-infected gecko in his drink. With his newfound powers, Cicakman sought to fight evil in the fictional city of Metrofulus, find the cure to a virus running rampant as well as get the girl of his dreams.
The comedy series gained widespread popularity, even crossing the borders into Singapore, but is hardly a piece of art. Starring Malaysian comedian Saiful Apek, Cicakman had zero aesthetics or soul and largely depended on the comedic and some might even argue cringey antics of the superhero. By superhero standards, it’s not the best, but if you’re looking for a good comedy, you should put Cicakman to the test. Cicakman 1, 2 and 3 is also available on YouTube.
VR Man (Singapore)
If you don’t remember VR Man, good for you. If you don’t know him at all, even better. Considered one of the biggest flops of Singapore TV, VR Man was a 13-episode live-action Singaporean superhero drama, aired in 1998. It was one of the first few English language dramas produced by MediaCorp and was touted as “Singapore’s first TV superhero”. His initial powers were the ability to project virtual reality items and make them solid for a limited period of time, but later took alike to DC’s Clark Kent all too quickly.
Laser eyes, flight, super speed, the series that was initially meant to be a drama-action turned into a comedy quickly.
Yeah, that’s THE Manny Pacquiao in the trailer. Wapakman follows a Filipino man named Magno whose world revolves around his five kids while his wife Magda works as a nurse in Italy. One night, Magno meets with an explosive accident that involved an organic substance that is as powerful as nuclear energy. Magno miraculously awakens smarter, stronger, lighter, and is altogether a new man. His newfound powers made him a superhero the country needed. Loving the life of his new superhero identity, Magno later has to decide if saving the world is worth leaving his children behind.
The film was not well received by the public, and on the first day of opening, it landed last place in the box office. The movie didn’t win the Manilla Film Festival and is deemed a major flop. Luckily for Pacquiao, the movie’s failure didn’t hinder his boxing and political career. Sorry Senator Pacquiao for bringing Wapakman out from the grave. Fortunately (or unfortunately), Wapakman is available for viewing on YouTube too.
There you have it, some of the best and worst superhero movies from all over the world. If you’re looking to diversify your superhero consumption, or are just up for a good laugh, remember that there are more movies out there than you know.