Boy Wonder [2010]

Boy Wonder is a 2010 indie film that explores what happens when a helpless boy, traumatized by the tragic and violent death of his mother, eventually becomes a troubled young man with his own moral code, and a sense of purpose and strength.

On paper, Boy Wonder has a lot working against it: a first-time director, an almost entirely unknown and untested cast, and a budget that’s probably not above $200,000. Fortunately, writer / director Michael Morrissey was able to beat the odds and turn his labor of love into an engaging, entertaining piece of cinematic art. Unfortunately, that success is tempered by a lack of awareness that the film even exists.

Despite a highly positive thumbs up from Roger Ebert, this movie avoided making any kind of mainstream splash at all, and it’s probably too late in the game for this to become a true sleeper hit (although it may yet become a cult favorite). One thing working against its commercial success is, in the director’s mind, this is a superhero film. That bias has spilled over into a misrepresentation in the Boy Wonder promotional material, and consequently the movie’s portrayal by the media. When a feature is billed as a “superhero” story, it evokes campy, spandex clad muscle men lifting cars and wearing capes. The problem is that this is not a tale about a morally upright man from another planet taking on baddies. This is not a slick blow ’em up flick. While featuring some intense action, Boy Wonder is mostly psychological in nature, and is best categorized as an antihero revenge drama / thriller that, on a cinematic level, has closer ties to Hamlet and Memento than The Dark Knight, or Kick-Ass. From a literary standpoint, Boy Wonder has greater similarity to the morally grey graphic novel domains explored by Frank Miller, Alan Moore, and Garth Ennis than to Captain America or The Fantastic Four.

Not to say that comic books aren’t relevant to the movie at all. The title “Boy Wonder” alludes to the sobriquet of DC Comics super-sidekick, Robin (perhaps referencing Jason Todd and his fall into the role of Red Hood). There are also parallels between Batman’s own origins and the backstory of the protagonist in Boy Wonder. But these are all just references and allusions. Boy Wonder is simply too believable and not fantastic enough to truly be in the comic book realm, especially stylistically.

Usually there would be a preview embedded here, but frankly, there are too many spoilers in the official trailer, and it would give you all the wrong ideas of what to expect. If you’re into dark, moody, violent and ambiguous thrillers, then dive right into Boy Wonder blindly. Don’t read about it, don’t look at the poster, just watch it. Revenge is a dish best served cold, and so is this almost unknown film.

About Etienne LaFitte

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