Confessions of a Superhero
"Confessions of a Superhero"
All the fame without the fortune...

"I always thought that if I had a superpower, no way would I wear a mask and a costume."
—Stan Lee

Take a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard and you're bound to bump into just about anybody. From Jack Sparrow to Chewbacca, Freddy Krueger to Elmo, the walk of fame is filled with living, breathing characters.

Among these mere mortals are heroes clad in capes and spandex, in masks and suits. They are the protectors of peace and defenders of justice, but above all they are pretenders.

Who are these people? They're idealists with bright eyes and broken dreams, wannabe movie stars who have possibly one of the most unique day jobs possible.

In "Confessions of a Superhero," a documentary from director Matt Ogens, secret identities are shed as we learn the story behind the suits. The film focuses on four would-be crime fighters: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Incredible Hulk, who patrol the stars and cemented handprints of L.A.'s walk of fame, posing for pictures with tourists in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

Christopher Lloyd Dennis is Superman. While he lacks the agility to jump tall buildings in a single bound, or the speed to outrun locomotives, Dennis does strike an uncanny resemblance to the late Christopher Reeve. The word ‘obsessed' doesn't even come close to describing Dennis's unrelenting fixation on the man of steel.

Upon entering his apartment one gets lost in the dizzying collage of reds, blues and yellows. There are countless action figures, lunch boxes, posters and prints of Superman - so much in fact the true color of his walls, floors and ceilings are as much a mystery as the root of his obsession.

Every morning Dennis gets up and prepares himself for the role he must play for the rest of the day. After a shower, Dennis painstakingly gels his hair to get that one perfect little curl, the signature do of Superman. Upon getting the black ringlet in place, he douses it in hairspray before putting on his costume - a replica of the Christopher Reeve suit used in the 1978 "Superman" movie.

Behind every Superman is a Wonder Woman I suppose, and on Hollywood Boulevard an ambitious Jennifer Gerht fills her boots. Compared to her fellow impersonators, Gerht might be the most average, normal person on the walk. Unlike the others, Gerht has no real obsession with the character she plays - nor is she delusional about what she does.

"This is my insane occupation," admits Gerht. A former prom queen from Maynardville, Tennessee, the beautiful Gerht packed her bags and headed to Hollywood in hopes of becoming an actress. Taking pictures with passersby as Wonder Woman is just a day job - one that pays the bills until she can land some real acting work.

Gehrt is a pleasing addition to the documentary. As Wonder Woman, Gerht is a confident, gorgeous Amazon in an ocean of characters. When she unfolds her story to the camera, suddenly her vulnerable side, often hidden behind sequins and spandex, comes to the surface.

On the other side of town, the dark knight puts his latex boots on. Yes, while Bruce Wayne may live in Gotham, Maxwell Allen lives in L.A., roaming the boulevard of broken dreams as Batman.

Allen differs from his friend and fellow impersonator Christopher Dennis in the fact that he has no outward fascination for his alter ego. Allen never intended to get involved in show business, but when people noticed he looked just like George Clooney, he got the idea to give acting a try.

Now he dons the cape and cowl of Batman, and to be honest, he isn't that different from the ‘real' one. You see, Allen has a bit of an anger management issue -a real short fuse that could blow at any second. Much like the caped crusader, Allen is a brooding, dark figure - even in the hot sun of Los Angeles.

As a former collector for the mob, Allen isn't too proud of his violent (and possibly murderous) past. He spends his days working through his issues with various martial arts classes, as well as trips to his psychiatrist. Did I mention he wears the suit during sessions with his counselor?

Finally there's the modest and affable Joeseph McQueen, who portrays the Incredible Hulk. Originally from Pinehurst, North Carolina, McQueen was also drawn to the appeal of Hollywood's bright lights.

"I just sold my Super Nintendo, got a Greyhound bus ticket and headed out here," Says McQueen, who never expected to be standing inside the shell of a green and purple Hulk costume. Things could be worse, and unfortunately for McQueen, things have always been worse it seems - as he spent five years homeless in L.A. before becoming the Hulk.

McQueen is perhaps the most likeable of the four characters we meet in "Confessions of a Superhero." You root for him - cheer him on his in quest to make a name for himself. He's just a nice guy, one that seems truly like Bruce Banner, locked inside the savage interior of the Hulk.

Simply put, "Confessions of a Superhero" is a beautiful documentary. It has a quiet, serene and downright melancholy atmosphere filled with moving photography and a color palette that is very appealing to the eye. The locations and set pieces director Matt Ogens chooses as his characters' confessionals are lonely and truly reflective of the film's subjects.

In a way, by wearing masks and costumes, these performers wear their hearts on their spandex-clad sleeves. It's touching and quirky and often too surreal to believe. For right now it seems they have all the fame without the fortune, starry eyes with sights set on leading roles and a permanent place on the walk of fame.

As our Wonder Woman so eloquently puts it, heroes are iconic and everlasting. "What else is there, you know?" asks Jennifer Gehrt. "Sure, a doctor saves lives, but is he remembered? Is he there for all times? People are still talking about Marilyn Monroe."

"Confessions of a Superhero" is a quirky, moving film that speaks to our own inadequacies, and the hero that we all wish we could be. I recommend this documentary for those looking for an honest, inspiring plunge into the superhero psyche.
Reviewed by: adam
5 Comment(s)
Sounds interesting but weird. I've been thinking of living as a tarp draped sasquatch on East Blvd to try to make ends meet. I just haven't found the right sheet of plastic yet.
Shea said...
Definitely sounds interesting. It reminds me of our plans if everything goes south. I want to check this out but it sounds like you had the best screening partners for this one. James and Paul.
Paul said...
Yeah it was a good viewing. Shea I told Adam, why didn't we make this movie?

Very interesting, very candid and real, and somewhat sad of course. Superman and Batman were just nuts. Wonder Woman was so weird, because she wasn't weird at all...like what are you doing here?

And yes, the Hulk was the hero of the story. To see where the guy came from, and his gentle-natured persona, it was great to see him endure and catch a break.

Shea you need to watch this. Also look for "Finishing the Game: The Search for a New Bruce Lee"
Nick said...
Oh man, this sounds awesome. I can't wait to check it out. Is it on DVD already?
Adam said...
Hey Nick, yep it's out on DVD now so you should definitely check it out!