REVIEW: ‘How I Became A Superhero’ Feels Like Half a Story

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How I Became A Superhero

How I Became A Superhero is a Netflix Original French-language film directed and written by Douglas Attal, based on the upcoming novel of the same name by Gerald Bronner. Gary Moreau (Pio Marmai) is a detective who acts as a liaison to the police for the superpowered in a world where superheroes are commonplace. Saddled with a new partner, Lieutenant Cécile Schaltzmann (Vimala Pons), Moreau is soon drawn to a case where teenagers are utilizing a drug that temporarily gives them superpowers at the cost of their bodies being mutilated or even destroyed. The case soon leads to Moreau teaming back up with the members of the defunct superhero team Pack Royal, who helped him when he was younger.

On paper, this seems like a great hook for a story. However, much like Jupiter’s Legacy, a great deal of what appears in this film has been co-opted by other superhero and sci-fi adaptations; it especially reminded me of the Netflix film Project Power. Both Project Power and How I Became A Superhero deal with superpower granting drugs, the police being outgunned by posthuman forces, and a protagonist who has a dark and troubled past. What worked in Project Power‘s favor was that the details of its universe slowly unfurled, feeling like a more complete experience. With How I Became A Superhero, the reverse happens; we barely get more information about Moreau’s time with Pack Royal or his superpowers which come out of left field and feel poorly defined. I feel like there should have been a scene toward the beginning of the film where

The film also feels all that less interested in developing the relationship between Moreau and Schaltzmann. Given better writing and more screen time, I could see Marmai and Pons developing a bond that feels organic. However, the film rushes them from “partners who don’t want to work together” to “romantic partners” without time to genuinely build up romantic feelings or even mutual respect for each other. I’m a big believer in “earning” one’s happy ending, and Moreau and Schaltzmann’s relationship is not earned in the slightest.

However, Moreau’s interaction with Pack Royal members Callista (Leila Bekhti) and Monte Carlo (Benoît Poelvoorde) serve as a genuine highlight of the film. Callista, a skilled fighter with precognition similar to Spider-Man’s spider-sense, runs a halfway house for teenagers that ends up connecting to the plot as one of her charges is helping sell the drugs. Monte Carlo, who can teleport great distances, is suffering from advanced Parkinson’s disease with Moreau looking after him. When Marmai, Bekhti, and Poelvoorde share the screen the chemistry between them is palpable; they actually feel like a superhero team. It’s enough to make audiences wish the film focused solely on their exploits or Pack Royal in their glory days.

The effects in the film are also well thought out and vary based on power sets. When the antagonists inhale the power-granting drug, different colored mists shoot up into their nostrils, with streaks of color running across their faces and eyes. Some of them can shoot flames from their hands, while others shoot electricity from their eyes. Monte Carlo’s teleportation effect turns him into wisps of smoke similar to the X-Men’s Nightcrawler, and Moreau’s power comes off as simmering waves of energy that crumple metal and shatter stone. If only the same care was put into the script.

How I Became A Superhero has an interesting premise that it doesn’t seem interested in fully fleshing out, leading to what feels like half a film. I haven’t read the novel the film is based on, but I can only hope it’s a more engaging and fulfilling experience than the film adaptation. If you’re looking for a good superhero experience on Netflix, I’d recommend The Old Guard or Kid Cosmic as both manage to make use of their respective premises.

How I Became A Superhero is currently available to stream on Netflix.


How I Became A Superhero
  • 6.5/10
    Rating - 6.5/10
6.5/10

TL;DR

How I Became A Superhero has an interesting premise that it doesn’t seem interested in fully fleshing out, leading to what feels like half a film. I haven’t read the novel the film is based on, but I can only hope it’s a more engaging and fulfilling experience than the film adaptation. If you’re looking for a good superhero experience on Netflix, I’d recommend The Old Guard or Kid Cosmic as both manage to make use of their respective premises.