Back in 2008, a comic book blockbuster was released that would change the game, re-write the rulebook and usher in a true golden age for the genre. That movie was Iron Man. Released just three months later, Hancock can’t claim quite as much influence, but it does at least stand as an interesting time capsule of the cinematic landscape pre-MCU domination.
After bouncing around in development hell for over a decade, it took the star power of Will Smith to finally get Hancock off the ground. The film was a big success, pulling in over $500m at the global box office, but reviews were mixed, and it remains more of a curio than a classic of the genre today.
Smith stars as John Hancock, a washed up, alcoholic superhero who has long-since lost the respect of the public due to his slapdash, often destructive approach to crimefighting. He’ll reluctantly stop the bad guys, but he’ll generally cause millions of dollars of damage (and most likely several fatalities) in the process.
Enter Jason Bateman, then at the peak of his Arrested Development career resurgence, as a PR executive who sees an opportunity to rehabilitate Hancock’s image – despite the misgivings of his wife, played by Charlize Theron, who turns out to have secrets of her own.
To the films credit, the whole ‘superhero as antihero’ was a bit less played-out in 2008 than it is in a post-Deadpool/Venom landscape. Casting a star as preternaturally likable as Smith could also have been an inspired move in this regard, had the film delivered on its premise. Unfortunately, the end result is muddled and never quite lands on a consistent tone.
In this week’s podcast, we discuss where it all went wrong – from plot holes to bizarre tonal shifts, yet more bizarre homophobia and Will Smith’s explosive spunk. We also line up some drinking games – which you’ll definitely need for this one – pitch some sequel ideas and check in with our listeners for their reactions.
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Next week, we conclude our Will Smith Summer with a stylish crime thriller that helped launch the career of his much younger co-star. Until then, happy listening and remember – never shove your head up another man’s rear end without adequate lubrication.