After being fired from the Superhero Society, Squid Man finds himself unable to find employment, broke and living on his friend's couch. Spending his nights at the bar, Squid Man soon finds himself the subject for a superhero book being written by a local journalist. Slowly but surely, things appear to be picking up for Squid Man -- even finding what he thinks might be the love of his life. There is a dark cloud that hangs over Squid Man and just as soon as the former superhero finds himself flying high, he comes crashing back down.
Squid Man: "You know, there are a lot of books about superheroes out there."
Pete Henderson: "Journalists usually only focus on the powers and amazing feats. I want to take it in a different direction."
Squid Man: "But the powers and amazing feats -- that's the fun part, right?"
Pete Henderson: "To me, what's interesting are the real people behind the costumes; the day to day life of a superhero. That's the story I want to tell."
Superhero and comic book movies have reached a point of ad-nauseam since they have been getting turned out regularly for over the past decade. It was great when James Gunn released his film "SUPER" as it deconstructed the superhero movie by being about a regular guy becoming like the people in the comics he reads, but with brutal sense of reality. Charlie Cline continues the deconstructing of the superhero movie with his film "Squid Man". A movie about what its like for a superhero to become a regular person living a monotonous, everyday existence.
Squid Man: the superhero nobody asked for. With the limited ability of only being able to shoot ink out of his finger tips (and occasionally his toes), Squid Man became known for defeating Lord Paradox. Times change though and soon Squid Man finds himself out of a job when he's fired from the Superhero Society. Having to work regular jobs and living on his friend's couch, Squid Man finds himself at his lowest point. That is until journalist Pete Henderson begins interviewing Squid Man for his book on superheroes. Things start looking up for Squid Man; being interviewed for a book, becoming a spokes person for a snack cake and even finding love in a woman named Martha. However, just as hiss own pessimism predicted, his world comes crashing back down again because real life can be just as hard as the life of a superhero. Unfortunately for Squid Man, he has to deal with both.
While I'm not an expert on comic books by any means, I know the idea of a superhero living an everyday life is not an uncommon plot device. However, in the exceptionally well written "Squid Man", it's not about how an extraordinary person becomes ordinary, but about how a superhero that nobody wants has to live an ordinary life. With only the ability to shoot ink out of his fingertips, Squid Man is fired from the superhero union, has to live on the couch in his friend's apartment and get work through a temp agency. While I wouldn't go so far as to say "Squid Man" captures realism, it is a movie that creates something believable out of the world of comic books.
Charlie Cline took what feels like two basic concepts -- superhero living a normal life from the comics and a down-on-his-luck character from movies -- and created something surprisingly interesting. As I said, the ideas behind "Squid Man" aren't exactly new -- which isn't an issue by any means -- but the movie is so well written that the movie itself doesn't feel repetitive. Because of the writing and the performance, I found it hard not to become engaged with the character of Squid Man. A rather tragic character who isn't capable of being an actual superhero but is stuck in a rather dead end existence. And while the movie isn't about powers or amazing feats, it's impossible not to be invested with the movie as Squid Man starts at nothing but begins to build himself back up only to be knocked down again. Even though it's not a movie about realism but there is a believability to the story and characters that allows the audience to relate to it, even though it is actually about superheroes.
The movie is a mix of comedy and drama that works well, like most of everything else in the movie, but the amount of both is sort of a positive and a negative in some regards. "Squid Man" walks straight down the middle; it never becomes too comedic or too heavy in its material. A good thing in some respects since being too heavy on either one will drive away certain audience members. However, it does seem like the story could have benefited from having more. It's a bit contradictory to what I said earlier but again, the characters and the story are so good, it felt as though there need to be a bit more meat to the movie. Such as the low-points in Squid Man's life could have had a bit more impact, especially when everything he has in his life is taken away. At times the movie feels like mere entertainment when it could have been more personal and allowed it to be even more relatable. Then again, I understand that there are other viewers other who would feel the opposite and would rather have more comedy instead.
Regardless of hypothetical scenarios, Charlie Cline found a good middle ground for his film and executes the idea of an unwanted superhero forced to live a monotonous life the best way possible. I cannot compliment the writing enough as it is the strongest point of the movie -- it's an outlandish idea that is relatable on a level for viewers that has the right mixture of comedy and drama. I think the easiest way to describe "Squid Man" would be to say that it's comic book movie equivalent of "Reality Bites". Cline's movie does venture off the beaten path and goes so far as to tackle some metaphysical and existential plot-lines that, not only add to the interest of the movie, but make me hope for a sequel as well. Although it is hard to get into those parts as they could easily spoil the entire movie.
Overall though, "Squid Man" is a very strong movie because it is able to take a rather outlandish concept but brings out the more human elements of a world you'd only find in a comic book. It's a movie that is able to tell a slice-of-life story in a superhero world with some added philosophical aspects about life. Even though I wished the movie would have allowed the dramatic elements to have a bit more weight to them, those moments still remain endearing, not to mention, the entertainment from the comedic parts. It should be noted that the great casting and astounding production quality -- particularly the cinematography -- also helped in making "Squid Man" interesting and engaging. Unfortunately there is far more to the story than what I am writing about but it's impossible to go into further detail without spoiling the movie.
So instead, I will say that while I very seldom want a sequel, I enjoyed the world that Charlie Cline created for "Squid Man" to a point that I would like a follow up film to see where those rather unusual sci-fi elements to the story are able to take the character.