In James Gunn’s new film Super, Rainn Wilson (The Office) stars as an unassuming softie who becomes a homemade superhero, the Crimson Bolt, to rescue his junkie girlfriend (Liv Tyler) from a seductive drug dealer (Kevin Bacon). Along with his horny and loopy sidekick, Boltie (Ellen Page), Crimson seeks vengeance by any means necessary. Heads are bashed in with a wrench, shotguns blow off faces, and animated tentacles cut open a man’s head to implant courage into his brain.
And, somehow, Super, is a comedy, albeit one of the darkest order. Fascinated by subverting expectations and alternating between tones, Gunn’s penchant for blurring the lines between comedy and thrills gives the movie a uniquely impulsive edge. It’s the same skill—honed while starting his career at Troma Entertainment—that made his script for Zack Snyder’s 2004 Dawn Of The Dead remake, as well as Gunn’s 2006 directorial debut Slither (a horror/comedy he also wrote), beloved within genre circles.
“Being able to switch tones like that is something that might not be comfortable for everyone, but it’s thrilling to me to go between light and dark,” says Gunn. “I like to be able to feel as many parts of myself while watching a movie at one time. I think that’s what Super is—it’s funny, but it’s also sad. It’s very touching in certain ways and it’s also got a very dark sense of humor. So it’s allowed to go anywhere.”
Impressed by his weird and extremely entertaining new flick, Complex asked Gunn to run us through his 10 favorite dark comedies, the movies that, in a sense, paved the way for Super. He didn’t disappoint.