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"Ellen is amazing. She put every fiber of her being into this role. There was a time on set where she almost fainted! You have to watch out for Ellen, because she works so f***ing hard ... the first thing she said to me, when we first talked about this movie, was that she's always being asked to play these characters who're 'wise beyond their years' - these snarky teenagers saying things out the sides of their mouth - and this character is the exact opposite of that. She's an 11 year-old in a 23 year-old body!

- James Gunn, on working with Ellen Page

Boltie, unlike her would-be mentor, is the quintessential fangirl - for her, it really is just about the power-fantasy of consequence-free assault on "evil" and the sexual fetishism of the costumes. She is, we quickly discover, deeply disturbed even more than the Bolt himself; a sprite-sized psychopath and a clear danger to herself and others.

"She's not trying to be 'good' - she just wants to beat people up! And the costume gives her the 'license' to do that. We go to a superhero movie, we want to see people getting beat up. It's couched in terms of 'Good and Evil' ... but we really just want to see the mayhem."

- James Gunn, on Boltie

Super won't be a movie for everyone - the combination of extreme violence, black comedy and genre-satire built around an unnervingly realistic portrait of severe depression requires a certain vigilance against tonal whiplash on the part of the audience; and one is constantly reminded that Gunn (who also helmed the cult hit Slither) cut his teeth working for the notorious Troma Films, who specialize in smashing hardcore horror-sleaze and blunt-force social commentary together (see: The Toxic Avenger, a blood and vomit slathered shocker about ... environmentalism.)

"My goal was: I wanted to make a film where you don't know what's going to happen at any point; keep setting it up so you think you know where it's going and then it doesn't."

- James Gunn, on tone

And even those who can stomach the ride may not go along anyway once they realize Gunn isn't interested in condemning Crimson Bolt's actions. Whereas most stories of comic book crimefighters gone real maintain the ultimate moral of Watchmen - that "real" costumed vigilantism would be a one-way path to Armageddon - Super challenges its audience by not offering a definitive judgment of Frank D'Arbo. He's pathetic, naïve and clearly out of his mind, but is he wrong? That's up to you.

"Maybe. It's important to remember that, even though the violence is very real, it's still a fairy tale. We're talking about a fictional guy killing fictional people, and his journey is less a 'commentary' and more about his experience. Frank feels that he's received a calling that seems completely crazy, and is seen from the outside as completely wrong by a lot of people ... but he really, truly believes it and goes for that."

-- James Gunn, on whether the world could use a real Crimson Bolt

Super is in theaters now.

Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you've heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.

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