Woefully underrated and very endearing, Defendor is one of those movies you actually need to see before you form an opinion on them. I have to admit I was expecting it to be some lame attempt of a superhero parody. What it turned out to be is a very thoughtful and complex dramedy about people, dreams, and ideals. And you know me, if I hate something in this world, it’s indie dramedies. That and those “ooohhh Mr. Bingley” British high society slash romance movies. So, when I tell you I really liked this one, it means something.
What I also liked about Defendor is that it’s easy to get and yet the issues it explores are difficult. It’s an elevated drama that’s approachable and easy to watch. Defondor represents the ordinary man who’s unable to operate the levers of the world and solve the issues he sees. Crime, poverty, corruption, and other bad stuff, stuff that someone should be doing something about. So, he decides to act as a propagator of the “right system of values” and intervenes.
We also have to remember that Defendor came out before all the superhero craze. And that this is a Canadian production, explaining some aspects of the story. I think that the plot would be much shorter and sadder if Arthur lived elsewhere. The entire movie works best if you’re able to keep that notion of a need to do something in this fucked up world. To be more precise, to keep its thought-provoking nature in mind. I say this because the script and the storytelling needed a bit more work. I feel like all these issues and angles are just thrown in the mix making it more clunky than it needed to be.
Arthur Poppington is a bit slow, and this has prevented him to accomplish something big in his life. Not through his own doing but through society’s doing. However, his alter ego Defendor (yes, it`s Defendor, not Defender) is not like that. Defendor fights crime and seeks justice in this crooked world.
You have to be very careful when portraying characters with mental health issues. Or someone who is on the spectrum as Arthur is. Mostly because this is a very sensitive subject and you don’t want to come off as someone who’s making fun of them or even worse, using them. Woody Harrelson managed to be both believable and relatable while staying in character. Kat Dennings was also great along with our old buddy Elias Koteas.
I mean, we all remember that Tropic Thunder quote about simple Jack. And I cannot resist mentioning another situation like this with a certain Cyboman. God, I cannot get that word out of my head no matter how hard I try. And the movie in question is The Lawnmower Man. Blankman from 1994 is another example of this premise, so there are more movies like this than you would initially think. Finally, if you’re looking for a movie like Defendor check out Super starring Rainn Wilson. It’s directed by James Gunn, the guy whose next movie was Guardians of the Galaxy. And I don’t think I need to remind you that Kick-Ass came out the same year.
Director: Peter Stebbings
Writer: Peter Stebbings
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Elias Koteas, Michael Kelly, Sandra Oh, Kat Dennings
Fun Stuff: The script was written back in 2005 but no major studio would accept to make such a movie.