When Mystery Men was first released in 1999, the superhero genre was at a crossroads. Batman & Robin came perilously close to souring Hollywood on cape and costume stories altogether, before the road to recovery began in earnest with Wesley Snipes’ Blade in 1998.
An ensemble comedy that boasted very little in terms of star power and name recognition was always going to be a tough sell at the time, especially when it was sandwiched in between the arrivals of Blade and Bryan Singer’s X-Men, the two blockbusters largely credited with kickstarting the comic book boom that’s still going strong over 20 years later.
Ben Stiller was the biggest name in the cast, and he’d starred in smash hit There’s Something About Mary the year previously, but his ascent up the Hollywood ladder was still very much in its infancy. The actor played Mr. Furious, part of the titular team assembled to try and save Champion City from Geoffrey Rush’s evil Casanova Frankenstein after he captures Greg Kinnear’s Captain Amazing.
The twist is that the majority of these folks aren’t what you’d call typical superheroes. There’s a guy who can only turn invisible when nobody’s watching, an incredibly accurate marksman who specializes in throwing any kind of cutlery that isn’t a knife, the flatulent Spleen and many more. Mystery Men flopped at the box office after failing to even recoup half of its $68 million budget, but it’s long since been confirmed as a genuine cult classic.
One of the more forgotten, overlooked and underrated superhero films of the last two decades, it’s a hilariously irreverent look at the less glamorous side of saving the world, and it deserves to post a seriously strong showing on Netflix now that it’s been added to the library.