Superheroes… What a concept! Hollywood seems to think that they’re pretty neat as demonstrated by the overwhelming output of superhero content for the past decade. The discussion of superhero fatigue has naturally followed but has never seemed more relevant till now. There hasn’t been a major superhero blockbuster since February 2020 and there won’t be another one in theatres till July. With the blockbuster out of the way, the light was shone on some new exciting superhero tales. Not to say that the MCU or whatever is happening with the DCEU is bad but it tends to be predictable. These shows had to stand out in an all too familiar genre and they did just that. Shows like ‘The Boys’, ‘WandaVision’ and ‘The Umbrella Academy’ have all twisted elements of the formula to feel fresh and unique. Amazon Prime’s ‘Invincible‘ however, elevates the genre by amplifying the actions caused by the power the hero possesses. It will revive and then kill off that naive wish of becoming a superhero in its pilot alone.
MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST SEASON OF ‘INVINCIBLE‘ ARE FEATURED IN THIS REVIEW.
Growing up is realizing that being a superhero is really not the dream job you thought it was when you were younger. This show embodies that realization. Sure Mark has his own fun flying scene in the pilot but for someone who calls himself Invincible, he gets beat up way too often, at least once an episode. On a serious note though, the amount of trauma Mark endures during these eight episodes is genuinely insane. Spider-Man had to balance chores, homework and saving lives while Invincible gets put through a subway train by his own father crushing anyone in sight with the momentum. No matter the comic book, movie or show, the matter of the fact is that having superheroes around is a bloody mess and I do mean that in the literal sense. That being said, ‘Invincible‘ doesn’t look at superheroes through a cynical lens like ‘The Boys’. It presents superheroes in their mighty, powerful, spandex covered glory. From the Guardians of the Globe to the wacky villains, the world presented in ‘Invincible‘ is clearly inspired by classic comic books and superhero lore. It’s how it chooses to present certain elements which make it stand out. From the repercussions of living in a world like this to Omni-Man’s true colours.
Realistically, an Omni-Man would exist because he is essentially a man with a god complex because he just so happens to be the most powerful being on Earth. His complete and utter disdain for humanity makes sense considering the mentality he has. The fact that he creates multiple disasters to prove a point fits incredibly well with his character. Even Mark’s ongoing journey to becoming a superhero is incredibly realistic as he’s not even remotely close to getting the hang of it. The first time he was involved in a genuine battle, he froze as he watched multiple people die brutally in front of him. As horrible as it was, seeing that poor old woman get crushed was something that would realistically happen to a beginner superhero. The callback to this in the finale when he failed to save not only that agent but later on, that woman and her child was genuinely devastating. There has even been a conversation on the level of gore the show gets away with it but frankly, the show wouldn’t work without it. The gore and violence in this show serve a purpose every single time, even more so in the finale. The violence caused by Omni-Man added perspective to both him and Mark. The show doesn’t just tell us how much Nolan despises humans, it shows us over and over again. It wouldn’t have had the same impact had the camera cut away. Seeing Mark desperately trying to save people while Nolan effortlessly kills millions adds to their character and enhances both perspectives. It’s also important to add the fact that this could never be done in live-action, animation is the only medium this story should be adapted into.
What ‘Invincible‘ is doing for western animation is not being talked about enough. Unlike the East, the rest of the world seems to think that unless it looks horrendous and features dark humour, animation isn’t suitable for teens and adults. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The major impact anime has on western audiences is proof that animation is purely a medium and not a genre. Restricting animation to a single genre is as bizarre as saying that live-action material has to be just for children or adults. Doing that will only restrict the stories people will be able to tell with such an incredible tool. The fact that ‘Invincible‘ is arguably the most popular show of 2021 alongside ‘WandaVision‘ tells you that there is a large audience for mature animation. The best part about ‘Invincible’ is that it is still very much a bright superhero show with tons of humour and heart. It really is using classic superhero styles and tropes and amplifying them by making them fit realistic superhero situations. Talk about an oxymoron! The gore in the finale is the perfect example of that. You could feel every punch they were throwing, the draining sense of hopelessness was palpable. This story wouldn’t have had this much of an impact had it been translated into live-action. ‘Invincible‘ proves that people are still compelled by the classic superhero tale, it really only has to do with how it’s presented to you.
The first season of ‘Invincible‘ is now available to stream on Prime Video.