It's safe to say that the superhero genre has become so crowded in a market oversaturated by new films, comics, and television shows, that the slightest deviation of the formula ends up standing out. We've seen the genre dissected with Kick-Ass and The Boys - to a greater extent with Watchmen - and even Disney Pixar took a jab at it with The Incredibles. Just when you thought there'd be no way to spark originality in this sub-genre of superhero dissections, along comes Invincible to prove that there's still life left in them.
Note: This review is spoiler-free.
Invincible began as a comic series created by The Walking Dead's Robert Kirkman in 2003, and ended its run in 2018. While the comics were relatively well-known among the comic book community, it really exploded into the mainstream recently with Amazon's animated adaptation. We follow Mark Grayson, an ordinary teenager who discovers that he has superpowers - though his dad happens to be the strongest superhero in the world named Omni-Man. Mark has to come to grips with his newfound responsibilities as a superhero, while tackling the true horrors and moral conflicts of the job.
The animated series adapts a decent section of Kirkman's comic book series, though more seasons are being made as we speak. As far as first season impacts go, though, Invincible packs one hell of a punch. Much like Kirkman's subversion of expectations while tackling the zombie horror genre in The Walking Dead, Invincible constantly shines with subversive yet clever ideas that breathe some new life into the superhero genre.
What ultimately makes Invincible work is its characters. Mark Grayson is a very relatable protagonist, and at times, the show can feel like a coming-of-age story while balancing a superhero origins saga. Mark isn't just dealing with the responsibilities of being a superhero, but also his social life and interactions with friends and family. The series wonderfully illustrates Mark's constant day-to-day struggles figuring out friendship, romance, and family turmoil amidst his superhero duties.
Mark and Omni-Man's relationship is the beating heart of the story...
There are moments that are simply uncomfortable to watch, which I think was the point of the violence...
However, J.K. Simmons as Omni-Man may be one of the best casting decisions ever, and I sincerely mean that.
Writer. Enthusiast of all things geek. Legend has it he completed Final Fantasy VII without a memory card.
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11 April 2021
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