The week in superhero news: Toxic Avenger, PG-rated Deadpool and Tom Cruise

This week's Superhero Nonsense column tackles a particularly gross reboot, a PG-rated revamp and Hollywood's humblest superhuman

We start this week’s Superhero Nonsense column with a public-service announcement: go see Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse this weekend. It’s great.

Once Upon A Deadpool

It’s also not the only superhero content arriving at the megaplex. Once Upon A Deadpool, the PG-friendly re-edit of Deadpool 2, is in theatres today I have not seen it, because Fox didn’t screen it for us before this column’s deadline (and because the original R-rated and unrated extended cuts of Deadpool 2 were plenty, if we’re being honest), but I hope it does well because Ryan Reynolds is donating a portion of the proceeds to a very deserving charity. And also because stunts like this are few and far between, and we might as well encourage them.

The Toxic Avenger

Also in the news this week, if you can believe it: The Toxic Avenger is getting a reboot. I somehow managed to omit Troma’s gross-out exploitation character when I assembled last month’s list of superheroes who could use a new incarnation, so I guess it’s my fault.

Nah, I don’t really believe that. The nostalgia machine rolls ever onward, demanding more and more properties to resurrect for a new generation, and Troma president Lloyd Kaufman can sell garbage to a raccoon, so here we are: Legendary Pictures, home of the Godzilla and Pacific Rim franchises, has committed to a big-budget remount of the wall-eyed mutant hero.

No writer or director has been named, but I really hope James Gunn is in the running. Unlike virtually every other filmmaker around, he actually worked at Troma back in the day, and it might be interesting to see what he’d salvage from the original property. At the very least he’d find a different, more humane way to make it gross.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Oh, and Paramount just rolled Mission: Impossible – Fallout onto 4K, Blu-ray and DVD, and the movie’s as jam-packed with action as it was on its theatrical release – even though it’s also, y’know, kind of exhausting. But I was intrigued by the suite of special features, which seem hell-bent on convincing us that Tom Cruise is… um… superhuman?

Over and over, in a series of featurettes and a couple of commentary tracks, Cruise’s collaborators praise the actor/producer for going above and beyond the limits of fragile human existence in bringing this sixth chapter of the Mission: Impossible franchise to the screen: enduring the stress of a HALO jump breaking his ankle while shooting a rooftop chase but still finishing the shot, driving a motorcycle through frantic Paris traffic, flying a goddamn helicopter … generally, being an indefatigable creative force who’s willing to do anything and everything to make these films as real as possible.

Cruise plays it down, of course, being as self-effacing as you’d expect any movie star to be in discussing a collaborative: he credits the stunt team, he credits writer/director Christopher McQuarrie, he credits his co-stars. But all his attempts to share the glory make Cruise start to sound like a living god trying to shrug off the praise of a grateful public. (Superman always reminds us the real heroes are the police officers and firefighters, doesn’t he?)

It’s weird. But if Tom Cruise really is some sort of godlike being, at least it counters my theory that he’s convinced a Hollywood studio to help him fulfill an unconscious death wish. So I guess that’s a good thing.

Anyway, Tom Cruise is still alive and Mission: Impossible – Fallout is available on disc and digital right now from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Superhero Nonsense is NOW’s weekly column delving into all things superheroic. Check out previous columns here.



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