In the era of CGI suits, Rainn Wilson’s new flick Super is a refreshing back-to-basics superhero movie. Average dude (Wilson) loses his wife to a mean drug dealer; average dude adopts the moniker "the Crimson Bolt," grabs a pipe wrench and slings the catchphrase "Shut up, crime!" Violence ensues, and there’s nothing cartoonish about the splattered brain matter.
The film, from Slither auteur James Gunn, opens Friday and also stars Kevin Bacon, Liv Tyler and Ellen Page. Wilson, best known as an aggressive weirdo on The Office, returned to his homeland during last month’s Emerald City Comicon (he grew up in Shoreline and wore an old-school Mariners hat to the geekfest). We took a few moments to grill his not-so-inner nerd:
Is Frank, the diner cook-turned-superhero of Super, crazy?
I think he’s crazy and a little bit sociopathic. …Super uses violence because you see all these superhero movies, and supervillains will pick up a bus and use it as a club. You know there are people in there, but it doesn’t show people’s heads being split open. So Super is really about the reality of violence and the thin line between a hero and a vigilante. Between someone who fights for good and someone who’s sociopathic.
Are you a superhero nerd?
Yeah, I certainly grew up reading comic books a lot. I kind of transitioned into fantasy and science fiction books. A sci-fi, Dungeons and Dragons species of nerd. My favorite was always Superman, because no one could ever beat him up. He’s the strongest, he’s the man of steel. And there’s no one stronger than him.
But isn’t that boring? He’s Mr. Perfect.
They always find a way. See, my friend told me that Green Lantern could just make a Kryptonite cage with his ring [to trap Superman], and then I got a little stumped. So then I liked Green Lantern for a little while.
At what point did you decide to play a superhero?
When I read the script, I couldn’t believe the number of things I got to play in the role of Frank. There’s a love story—there’s a couple love stories going on. And there’s great comedy. And there’s a lot of heart and sadness and real emotions. And there’s some badass asskicking action. I’ve always wanted to do that kind of stuff. What young actor doesn’t want to shoot guns in people’s faces?
What would Dwight Schrute [Wilson’s character from The Office ] be like as a superhero?
I think he’d get into a lot of potentially terrible situations and get the crap kicked out of him. Be terribly humiliated.
Who would the ideal superhero be for Seattle?
They need to be impervious to water. And they need to know how to drive a ferryboat. They need a lookout on top of the Space Needle. And they have to gorge on salmon.
Super opens in Seattle theaters on April 15.