Written & Directed by Michael Morrissey
Sean Donovan...Caleb Steinmeyer
Terry Donovan...Bill Sage
Detective Theresa Aames...Zulay Henao
While I don't typically require a *SPOILER ALERT* in my reviews, this film begs for a slightly deeper examination than usual. So if you haven't seen Boy Wonder yet, do yourself a favor and WATCH IT. Then come back.
He's alone in his mission, but he's not alone in this film. The dynamic between Sean and his father is dark and complex, and utterly believable--as unsavory as it is. He also makes an accidental acquaintance out of Theresa Aames, the newest homicide detective in the district, who feels bad for the kid while simultaneously investigating him. It's an interesting relationship that they have, both fighting the same fight on opposite sides of the system.
There have been multiple examples of "superheroes in the real world" scenarios in the media, from Kickass to the short-lived The Cape, and, in some respects, even Batman Begins. But all of these "real worlds" are far from real. They didn't show us what a comic book hero would be like in real life so much as attempt to explain away the comic book tropes in a realistic manner, neverminding the fact that said tropes would not exist in the real world.
This is where Boy Wonder excels. Sean has no superpowers, genuine (Dr. Manhattan's control over time and matter) or pseudo (Kickass's lack of pain sensors). He is just an angry young man with a dark past and a bitter fury that has no outlet except the occasional murder of a scumbag pimp or pedophile. Even Batman, one of the more "realistic" comic book heroes in terms of physiognomy and origin, has a superpower of sorts in his genius intellect and limitless resources. Not so with Sean, a blue collar boy with a sharp (but believable) mind. He's what Robin might have become had there never been a Batman.
Don't let the title, the film's conceit, and my geeky ramblings confuse you. This is not, honestly, a comic book film. It's a crime thriller with a few parallels to the world of comic books. There are no cheeky in-jokes, no spandex costumes, no four-color winks at the audience. That being said, there still has to be some level of crossover appeal.
Sean is doing what so many of us wish we could do, fighting injustice when the justice system fails. All of us are born out of tragedy in some form, and if you haven't been, then you're probably not done growing yet. Tragedy breeds a lot of complex emotions--guilt, grief and anger perhaps the most powerful; a potent concoction that can be used as fuel. But if it's powering the wrong engine, the outcome can be disastrous.
Sean's already-fractured psyche quickly develops even more stress lines, and there's a pivotal and brutal scene in which he beats a mentally ill homeless man on the subway. This man can be viewed as a symbol of the madness that is ensnaring society at every turn, and in the attack Sean "gets a little on him", as it were.
Tragedy begets tragedy. Violence begets violence. Madness begets madness. And vengeance is never the answer. These are the lessons that Boy Wonder so astutely teaches us.
A truly fantastic film that belongs in every collection.