There are superheroes who destroy. And then there are superheroes who create.
Millions of Marvel fans flocked to theaters this weekend to watch “Avengers: Endgame,” but another new movie offers a superhero who doesn’t have enormous strength or try to annihilate an entire planet.
It’s called “Fast Color,” and it’s is everything “Endgame” isn’t.
While there’s certainly room to appreciate both films, “Fast Color” takes a small-scale and refreshing approach to a superhero’s journey.
Here’s what you should know about the movie.
It’s about heredity, not race
“Fast Color” is an indie film about a Midwestern woman named Ruth (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who possesses supernatural abilities and must flee when her powers are discovered.
Some viewers have praised the film for portraying a black woman as a superhero. But that wasn’t the filmmakers’ intention.
Director Julia Hart and her husband Jordan Horowitz, who co-wrote the script, wanted to highlight the superpower of motherhood through the representation of three generations of women.
Having a black woman superhero was just a casting coincidence, they told The Daily Beast.
Ruth has the ability to move tectonic plates, while her mother Bo (Lorraine Toussaint) and daughter Lila (Saniyya Sidney) can dissolve and recreate objects. The family has hidden their powers for generations out of fear of being seen as a threat.
Through their familial bonds, the mother, daughter and grandmother learn to embrace their inner powers. But government scientists, desperately in need of someone to save the world from a drought, only seem to want to exploit them.
“I think we just look back at our mothers, our mothers’ mothers, and our mothers’ mothers’ mothers,” Mbatha-Raw said in an interview with EW. “We have so much power just in our DNA. I hope people will realize that you don’t need all of these special effects to feel that you have power inside of you.”
It tackles real-life struggles like addiction
Even the toughest superheroes face life obstacles. We just don’t always see them in the movies.
Ruth is a recovering addict who began losing control over her powers when she was younger and has frequently had earth-shaking seizures.
She became so frustrated with herself that she started using to cope with the stress and left her daughter Lila with her mother. The movie picks up with Ruth, now sober, trying to return home and make amends with her family.
This isn’t a film that shirks away from the uncomfortable conversations that can come up when talking about addiction with children.
Lila doesn’t recognize Ruth and asks her mother poignant questions about why she left years ago. Ruth tries to deflect them by saying she was sick, but Lila confronts her with more questions about her illness and why medicine didn’t heal her.
The scene feels authentic because it moves at the logical pace at which a mother would talk to her daughter as they navigate a delicate conversation.
It doesn’t try to be a Marvel-like blockbuster
What also makes “Fast Color” special is its ordinariness.
The movie trades in the usual bustling metropolises (or Wakandas) of superhero movies for the rural American Midwest. It strips away the leather catsuits and superhero capes, leaving viewers to see an average-looking woman they might catch running errands around town.
“Fast Color” shows a familiar yet often overlooked setting while furthering the point that there’s no one way for a superhero to look.
You can power up in a flashy supersuit or you can kick back in a pair of jeans and a light sweater.
It doesn’t matter where you are. It doesn’t matter what you wear. It doesn’t matter what you look like. All that matters is what you do to save the world.
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