We Can Be Heroes introduced a new generation of heroes as well as their heroic parents, and among them are a couple of parodies of some of DC and Marvel’s most popular superheroes. Following the success of the first three movies in the Spy Kids franchise, Robert Rodriguez continued exploring the realm of fantasy movies aimed at children with The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D. However, it didn’t have the same success as Spy Kids, and was heavily criticized for its story and visual effects.
Now, over a decade after its release, Sharkboy and Lavagirl are back but in minor roles, leaving the spotlight to a new generation of superheroes in We Can Be Heroes. This standalone sequel follows the children of Earth’s superheroes (led by Missy Moreno, played by YaYa Gosselin) as they team up to rescue their parents who were kidnapped by alien invaders, who also plan on taking over the world. This unexpected event forces them to learn how to work together so they can save their parents and the world as well, but there’s a big twist when it comes to the aliens’ real plans. We Can Be Heroes was released on Netflix on Christmas day and while it received mixed reviews, it was a big hit for the streaming giant, so much that a sequel has been greenlit.
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Given the popularity of superheroes in cinema in recent years, thanks to shared universes like the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC’s Extended Universe, it’s not surprising that We Can Be Heroes has various references and parodies of superheroes and villains from DC and Marvel, as well as a couple of events from these universes, particularly Marvel’s Secret Invasion. In fact, most of the superheroes introduced in Rodriguez’s movie are parodies of some of DC and Marvel’s most popular characters, some more obvious than others. Here’s every DC & Marvel superhero parodied in We Can Be Heroes:
Tony Stark – Marcus Moreno & Tech-No
Missy Moreno is the daughter of Marcus Moreno (Pedro Pascal), leader of the Heroics who promised Missy not to go on a new mission again, and instead worked at the Heroics Headquarters – however, once the alien attack began, he was forced to join the team and fight, but he was captured along with the rest. Unlike other members of the Heroics, Marcus isn’t superpowered, but he’s a master swordsman and a great leader. Marcus Moreno is what Tony Stark would have been had he survived Avengers: Endgame, as he’s a (partially) retired hero who chose to put his family first and instead work from behind a desk.
Marcus isn’t the only Tony Stark parody in We Can Be Heroes, as there’s also Tech-No, played by Christian Slater. Along with Miracle Guy (Boyd Holbrook), Tech-No is one of the first superheroes introduced in the movie, and just like Tony Stark, he doesn’t have superpowers and relies on technology as he’s a tech genius. Among the many reasons why Tony Stark became a fan-favorite is that he wasn’t born with superpowers nor did he go through experiments or an accident that gave him extraordinary abilities, and he’s actually a genius and billionaire who uses his creations and technology to build his superhero persona, which is pretty much what Tech-No did.
Hulk – Crushing Low
The Heroics team has a variety of superheroes, but sadly, viewers didn’t get to see much of most of them, as We Can Be Heroes is mostly focused on the kids. Still, among the kidnapped superheroes is Crushing Low (Brently Heilbron), a hero with super-strength and who may or may not be responsible for a lot of chaos – case in point, when mayor Doolittle is at the ribbon-cutting of his new City Hall (as the previous one was destroyed when the Heroics went into action), Crushing Low arrived and crashed into the new building, destroying it in “record time”. Crushing Low is a parody of Marvel’s the Hulk, a superhero with unbelievable strength but also a very bad temper, as this is what triggers his transformation into the green, superstrong character everyone knows – and, of course, his superhuman strength has also caused serious damages on multiple occasions.
Flash – Blinding Fast
Of course, no superhero team would be complete without a character with super-speed, and the Heroics have theirs in Blinding Fast (Sung Kang). Blinding Fast is a parody of Flash, DC Comics’ very own superhero with super-speed, which includes the ability to run, move, think, and use superhuman reflexes extremely fast, which is exactly what Blinding Fast did in the brief screen-time he had – and, funny enough, his son is Slo-Mo (Dylan Henry Lau), who is the opposite of his father as he somehow got trapped in a vortex, but he’s still a valuable member of the young Heroics.
Superman – Miracle Guy
Miracle Guy is one of the first heroes introduced in We Can Be Heroes alongside Tech-No, and among his extraordinary abilities are super-strength and flight, just like one of DC Comics’ most beloved and popular heroes: Superman. In fact, Miracle Guy is presented as the one who can defeat and conquer anything and anyone, except those weird aliens coming to kidnap him and the team. With Marcus staying as a “behind-the-scenes” presence, Miracle Guy seems to have taken on the unofficial role of leader of the group, as Superman has done with teams like the Justice League. Miracle Guy is also quite arrogant but eventually learns to let his guard down and open his mind, especially when it comes to his son, Wheels (Andy Walken), learning that he really is a superhero in his own, unique way.
Mr. Fantastic – Noodles
The superhero parodies in We Can Be Heroes are not all about the Heroics but also about their kids as well. Such is the case of Noodles (Lyon Daniels), the son of Invisi Girl (Jamie Perez) and who has the ability to stretch his body into any shape. Noodles is Robert Rodriguez’s version of Marvel’s Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, a founding member of the Fantastic Four and who got the ability to stretch his body after the spacecraft he and the rest of his team were in was bombarded by cosmic radiation. Though Noodles wasn’t the leader of the young Heroics, he was a very important part of the team, and his superpowers came in handy at various points throughout the movie.
Doctor Strange – Fast Forward & Rewind
Although Marvel’s Doctor Strange is best known for being a sorcerer and having powers that come from various mystical entities, that’s not what We Can Be Heroes took from him to add to its characters. Instead, the movie focused on Strange’s abilities to control time, making way for twins Rewind (Isaiah Russell-Bailey) and Forward (Akira Akbar), the children of Crimson Legend (J. Quinton Johnson) and Red Lightning Fury (Brittany Perry-Russell). As their names say, Rewind can reverse time (but just a few seconds and aimed at certain targets) and Fast Forward can advance time, also just a few seconds. At one point, they combine their powers to defeat the alien agents in the spaceship, and though they initially hated each other, after they learn to work together they realize they care about each other a lot and continue to join forces when needed. While Doctor Strange wasn’t born with superpowers, thanks to the artifacts and mystical powers he can use (and, in the MCU’s case, the Eye of Agamotto, which contained the Time Stone) he’s able to reverse and accelerate time as he pleases, even trapping himself and others in time loops when needed.
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