I spent quite a bit of time on James Gunn’s old website. This was about twelve years ago when I had my first apartment. Thanks to a combination of his website and Twitter I became an even bigger fan of his. I was a huge fan of Slither, among other things that he has done. Thanks to him I discovered one of my favorite OG memes, keyboard cat. Because I had become such a fan of his I spent a lot of time looking at what he had done. That’s how I first discovered The Specials, just by looking at his Wikipedia page. I ended up finding a copy of the movie on DVD at the pawn shop where I grew up. Which is honestly pretty surprising considering how small it is.
The Specials was directed by Craig Mazin. It was written by James Gunn, like I’ve mentioned. The cast is honestly pretty ridiculous. It stars Rob Lowe, Thomas Haden Church, Paget Brewster, Jordan Ladd, Jamie Kennedy, Mike Schwartz, Kelly Coffeld Park, Sean Gunn, Judy Greer, Jim Zulevic, and James Gunn. That’s not to mention the cameos that are abundant in the movie. The performances are really heartfelt when they need to be. A lot of it can be kind of zany, by that’s honestly good when you’re in a sorta screwball comedy with superheroes. There are bits in this that don’t really hold up all that well. They’re dated and just aren’t that funny anymore, if they were funny at all. My favorite running joke has to do with James Gunn’s character.
The movie is centered on the titular super group. You catch Nightbird as she first joins The Specials. You’re introduced to The Strobe, Ms. Indestructible, The Weevil, Amok, U.S. Bill, Power Chick, Doug aka Alien Orphan, Deadly Girl, Mr. Smart, Eight, and Minute Man. They’re inking a deal with the third largest toy manufacturer. The group falls apart thanks to lingering tensions. The Weevil leaves the group for a more popular supergroup called The Crusaders. The group ends up getting back together.
The costumes that the superheroes have look good. They definitely look like they would be worn by one of the less popular supergroups in a world that has superheroes. The production design is good. The most dated thing, aside from some of the jokes, is some of the CG that’s used. I’m pretty sure it would look dated no matter what just because of the advances in CG technology.
I feel like this proves that James Gunn would be able to at the very least write a movie about X-Statix. Really he would be able to write about any of the more oddball groups that are plentiful in comics. He’s matured as a filmmaker since The Specials was made. This isn’t an easy movie to watch because it’s actually kind of hard to find.