Supersonic Man (1979) — Up, up, and awaiting common sense

“You cannot stop me! I am supersonic!”

Justin’s rating: His greatest skill was being able to remove and re-apply a mustache during every costume change

Justin’s review: There’s a really good reason that we don’t go to the ’70s when we’re looking for inspiring superhero movies. Aside from 1978’s Superman, which pushed the limits of what technology could do in this area, it simply wasn’t that popular of a genre with a lot of special effects at its disposal. Spanish-made Supersonic Man isn’t about to make you doubt your judgment when avoiding this decade, as it’s a prime example of what Superman could’ve been if people were looking to make a comic book adaptation on the cheap.

Supersonic Man — Paul, to his friends — is a space-born alien who’s given a temporary assignment of coming to Earth and putting an end to the reign of Doctor Gulik. Gulik is a hammy, over-the-top James Bond-type villain who asserts that he “doesn’t like philosophy” before spending roughly 36% of the remaining screen time ruminating about just that. He’s also got a secret island fortress, scores of minions, a flamethrowing robot, ray guns, and a desire to conquer the world or prove his amazingness or somesuch. The only thing he needs for this incredibly vague plan is a professor and his applicable science.

About the time that Gulik kidnaps the professor, Supersonic Paul arrives on the scene to woo the professor’s daughter and gradually make in-roads into recovering the professor. Honestly, he doesn’t seem that motivated most of the time, preferring instead to stay in his human disguise and force his mustache upon this woman. As Paul, he gets knocked out an awful lot — but never killed, mind you — but as Supersonic Man, he’s got an array of unstoppable powers.

In fact, good bloody luck trying to figure out what Supersonic Man can do. The film is clear that he can fly and lift heavy things, but past that his tool chest is more… nebulous. Supersonic Man waves his arms around and “stuff” happens, like a pistol turning into a banana. He’s also completely invincible, so I don’t get why Doctor Gulik figures that his  own victory is assured. If I had to say what this plot was really about, it would be “Gulik poking an invincible star-child over and over until the alien had enough and wrecked up his secret lair.”

If you couldn’t tell, Supersonic Man offers up heapings of cinematic cheese, all smelly and gooey, for those who love to dip into that sort of thing. The music is like a disco version of the Superman theme, the special effects laughable, the villain’s posturing putting Doctor Evil to shame, and Paul so creepy that it wouldn’t be out of the bounds of reason to formulate a fan theory that he’s actually the bad guy here. It’s gloriously stupid in all of the best ways and makes me wish that I had an internship as a henchman at one of these volcano labs.

Didja notice?

  • Always good to introduce your main character unconscious and wearing a thong
  • We had an awful lot of ray guns in the 1970s
  • Cute chunky robot! With a flamethrower! And knockout gas!
  • Old VW beetles, that takes me back
  • Acme steamroller
  • The epic bar brawl
  • This guy has every power in the world, including being able to turn guns into bananas
  • ROBOT VS. HELICOPTER
  • The evil guy loooooves to call people “idiot”
  • Most small yachts have a submarine tucked inside
  • Superheroes enjoy robbing restaurant kitchens for booze

One comment

  1. Fun Fact: This was directed by Juan Piquer Simón, the guy responsible for Extra Terrestrial Visitors, AKA Pod People, AKA E.T. as a slasher flick.

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