July 7th, 2011

‘Stan Lee’s (Not-so) Superhumans’ Review


Available on: Netflix Instant Queue and DVD/Blu-Ray
Season total: 1
Rating: 3 out of 5

While perusing the netflix queue on my Xbox, I stumbled upon a show that peaked my interest. I had heard of its existence and about some of its characters, but had never been able to locate the show itself. Until now.  Stan Lee’s Superhumans is a documentary style of reality entertainment that uncovers and locates humans with, what they classify, as superhuman abilities. The show attempts to use modern science to breakdown the facts behind why these particular humans can do what they do. But are these individuals truly superhuman?

Right off the starting line, the first episode features 4 extraordinary individuals with “powers” so unbelievable, you literally have to see it to believe it. And that brings me to my first complaint; the show is told through the eyes of Daniel Browning Smith as he journeys across the globe to find other superhumans, but the story can never be told in its entirety due to the time constrictions of the show and editors in charge of piecing stories together. Although, you feel nullified in what you’ve just witnessed, there can be no true confirmation. Stan Lee has essentially recreated Ripley’s Believe it or Not but attached his prominent name to the title giving the project weight and gravitas in this comic book wrapped world of entertainment.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there are no legitimate superhumans presented on the show, because there are, I’m simply stating that the reality of the given “powers” these people demonstrate cannot be truly appreciated due to the lack or representation and the viewer’s relative distance from the characters. If there is one thing the Internet has taught us, you can’t take everything you see as reality. Albeit, some people still can’t seem to tell the difference and I did find myself proclaiming stifled exclamations while watching the show, I just don’t see this concept as anything special.

Some of the individuals demonstrating TRUE superpowers are; the man who can conduct electricity with his body (episode 1), the world’s most efficient samurai (episode 6), the man who can fly (episode 7), the man who doesn’t need oxygen to swim (episode 5), the fastest gunslinger in the world (episode 2), and those are just a few. But, you also get a lot of filler characters that don’t seem to have genetic mutations as much as genetic defects or just plain stupidity. For instance; the man who has a thicker skull than normal (episode 3), the man who claims to dream the future (episode 3), the man with “abs of steel” (episode 4) and the man who can knock you out without touching you (episode 8). A lot of the individuals featured have you screaming in anger at your television as you are calling “bullshit” on their “powers”

It may be from my years of watching the greatest science show ever, Mythbusters, or just the fact that I can identify sloppy experimentation when I see it. When the science of the show is introduced, you may find yourself in the same chair that I did yelling at the screen about how they didn’t have enough evidence to make a valid conclusion or that they tested only the bare minimum, leaving too many unanswered questions. Any true scientist would never attest to a conclusion yielded from a single source of information or experiment. Also, I understand the location and budgetary constraints of the show, but to feature only the best local scientists they could locate leaves too many variables unaccounted for. I do proclaim that some of the people do have unexplainable, legitimate mutations or powers, but for Daniel and Stan Lee to make the conclusion that even the individuals that were tested and failed miserably are super is something I cannot respect.

Look at it this way; the show is set-up like an X-Men comic. Daniel Browning Smith is the mutant sent on a quest by Professor X, (AKA: Stan Lee), to classify and document other mutants. After each encounter with a potential qualifier, Daniel has to report back to Stan and they compile a conclusion based off of what they know. Through out the show, Daniel gets teamed up with other mutants either of a more impressive or lesser stature. These individuals represent the one-shot characters you would get in the comic. Some of the characters are amazing and unique, while others are clichéd and forgettable. In the end, you are entertained but are left clawing for more. Sadly, there may not be another issue, (season), of this show so we have to make do with the outcome we’ve been spoon-fed.

Stan Lee and Daniel Browning Smith (The World’s most Flexible Man)

In conclusion, the show is peppered with incredible characters and visuals, but doesn’t have any substance beneath the surface. While it attempts to educate and inform from a scientific stance, it falls embarrassingly short of doing so. If the show was to feature only two super individuals an episode, instead of 4, and allow the scientific aspect more time to breath, I assume I would have a much higher appreciation for the concept. But, since it is simply Ripley’s Believe It or Not, it has fallen from any glory that I would give such an elegant, unoriginal premise.

Cole Dixon

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