Because mediocre humans don’t get reality shows.
Comic book superheroes have pretty much taken over the box office these days, but what if they’re not fantasy? What if there really are people in this world with superhuman powers and abilities. That’s the question posited in Stan Lee’s Superhumans as the reality show takes the Boom Tube into Season Two.
The premise here is that legendary comic book writer Stan Lee has hired contortionist Daniel Browning Smith, a.k.a. “the world’s most flexible man,” to find real-life superhumans. Of course, said premise is a mere framing device allowing Lee to do some narration and have his name in the show’s title. Beyond that, it’s Smith traveling around the world and meeting an assortment of amazing yet odd individuals.
In Season Two’s thirteen episodes, we meet the following superhumans:
• “Unbreakable,” a Shaolin monk able to endure great amounts of pain.
• “Megahold,” a man with incredible grip strength, able to hold back 400 pounds of pressure.
• “The Planet’s Greatest Archer,” who can hit all manner of tiny, moving targets from a distance.
• “Human Fire Hydrant,” who can drink a potentially fatal amount of water and then spit it out with great force.
• “The Spring,” an athlete with incredible high-jumping skills
• “Shins of Steel,” a Muay Thai fighter who can kick anything without breaking the bones in his legs.
• “Human 4×4,” who mimics how monkeys run on all fours, giving him great speed
• “Shark Master,” a shark expert who has studied how sharks communicate, and is therefore able to swim safely alongside them.
• “Scorpion Man,” a man who’s been stung numerous times by scorpions and survived.
• “The Nose,” who has a bloodhound-like sense of smell. He says his nose is “NASA-certified.”
• “Beast Master,” who appears to be able to put any animal into a trance.
• “Fish Man,” a long-distance endurance swimmer, who swims through a challenging, freezing cold stretch of the Colorado River.
• “Mountain Man,” a man who claims to be immune to altitude sickness, climbing the world’s highest mountains without supplemental oxygen.
• “The Web Maker,” a scientist working on a super-strong artificial spider webbing, just like a certain well-known Stan Lee character.
• “Human Spidermonkey,” a female superhuman (it’s about time!) who can scale cliff faces with great speed and agility.
• “Anti-gravity Man,” a skateboarder who can jump to amazing heights.
• “Kinetic Man,” who claims to have telekinesis. Could it be real?
• “Rocket Blader,” with a jetpack strapped to his back, he can get up to 130 miles per hour on his skates.
• “Motor Mouth,” the world’s fastest talker, able to speak about 400 words per minute.
• “Pain Killer,” a man who claims to be unable to feel pain on the bottom of his feet, walking through fire and broken glass.
• “Birdman,” with one of those skydiving wing suits, this guy can fly faster than terminal velocity.
• “The Ice Man,” a polar bear diver who swims long distances in ice-cold water.
• “Retro Runner,” who says he’s faster when running backwards rather than forwards.
• “Hands of Fire,” a martial artist who says he can harness energy around him and turn it into heat he expels from his hands.
• “Robo-arm,” a man with an unusually larger and muscular left arm.
• “Rollerman,” an extreme sports enthusiast who skates around in a suit covered with wheels.
• “Jack the Knife,” who claims to be the world’s most accurate knife thrower.
• “Human Wrecking Ball,” a huge dude who alleges the ability to demolish an entire house with his bare hands.
• “Human Generator,” who claims to be able to absorb any amount of energy without being harmed.
• “Super Neck,” who can balance impossibly massive weights on top of his head.
• “Yoyo Ninja,” a yoyo expert who’s so skilled, he claims he can deflect a bullet with his yoyo.
• “I-cyborg,” who claims to be able to control electronic machines with his mind.
• “The Hurricane,” whose lung strength is such that he can exhale great gusts of air.
• “Steel Face,” who attaches hooks to his eyelids and uses them to lift heavy objects. (Holy crap!)
• “Speed Catcher,” a man who can catch any high-speed object flying at him, including baseballs, paintballs, and arrows.
• “Nunchuk Master,” a martial artist who’s trained for years to be the best at wielding nunchuks.
• “Super Sight,” a blind man who claims he can see with his mind.
• “Dolphin Man,” a diver who says he can hold his breath longer than a dolphin.
• “Human Magnet,” a man with adhesive skin, able to stick anything to his body.
• “Human Tool Box,” who hammers six-inch nails and screwdrivers into his nose, dangerously close to his brain.
• “Finger of Steel,” a man whose finger is so rock-hard he can use it to break open a coconut.
• “Twister,” a guy who can turn his feet around 180 degrees and walk backwards, without any pain or discomfort.
• “Death Diver,” a cliff diver who leaps from extreme heights into the ocean.
• “Flying Dagger,” a stuntman whose high jumps appear to be gravity-defying.
• “Jaws,” a bodybuilder who lifts huge weights with just his teeth.
• “Human Shield,” who can withstand punches to the chest, neck or head without injury.
• “Mr. Ballistic,” a quarterback able to throw a football across vast distances with razor-sharp accuracy.
• “Jet Pack Man,” an engineer who has developed a working, and highly dangerous, flying jet pack.
• “Super Fist,” who shoves his bare fists into animal traps without harm.
• “Super Brain,” whose memory is allegedly so great he can remember everything that’s ever happened to him, in complete detail.
• “Super Fast,” who claims to have invented a bicycle that can reach speeds faster than highway speed limits.
• “Super Loud,” a woman whose vocal chords produce sound equal to that of a jumbo jet taking off.
Comic fans should know that Stan Lee’s involvement in this series is mostly just to add some star power. The majority of the show is a modernized version of the old series That’s Incredible (anybody else remember that one?), in which Smith travels the globe and shows off a bunch of folks with strange quirks or talents.
Each episode spotlights four or five superhumans, and segments are roughly the same. First, Smith meets the superhuman and checks out what he or she can do. Then, they bring in a scientist or expert of some kind to determine how these superhuman abilities are possible, and, finally, the superhuman is put up to a test to push his or her abilities to the limit. It’s in that third part that the show often gets too hokey. For example, they take the guy who can drink and then regurgitate huge amounts of water, and then have him use this ability to put out a small fire. It seems like an unnecessary attempt to superhero him up. Others are more interesting, fortunately, such as the guy who flies with the wing suit. His athleticism is truly remarkable, and he actually does look like someone who stepped right out of a comic book.
Stan Lee’s Superhumans is hit-and-miss throughout. Showing the remarkable abilities of a highly trained martial artist is one thing, but by the time we’re on our fourth or fifth highly-trained martial artist, you’ll think, “Haven’t we done this already?” At other times, the show is genuinely captivating, such as the “Super Brain” guy with his razor-sharp memory, which has me wondering how life would be different if we could all tap into that type of ability with our own minds. Then again, I’ve seen magicians hammer nails into their noses and stick their hands in bear traps, so when dudes are doing the same on this show, I can’t help but be a little skeptical.
The best compliment I can give this show is that I enjoy its positive attitude. Unlike other shows of this kind, the superhumans are never depicted as something frightening, or as a punchline. On this show, being different is something to be celebrated, and in that spirit, it makes the series hard to dislike.
Tech specs are middle of the road, with clean widescreen picture and 2.0 sound, and deleted scenes for extras.
While I don’t believe Superhumans: Season Two is strong enough to warrant a purchase, it is nonetheless a perfectly passable time-waster.