Has Been Hero

Creative Work
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Logline: In a time of peril, one self-styled vigilante's mission to pummel a super-villain is thwarted only by his own decline as both hero and villain search for fulfillment. “Has Been Hero” is the story of how Jack Lee, a juggernaut, must confront his most formidable enemy yet: inevitable physical decline. This is a humbling and disempowering experience for Jack, a self-styled vigilante who saw himself as a soldier dedicated to dispensing his own brand of justice.

Once a fearsome powerhouse, Jack Lee fought crime and was the spectacle of public praise and ridicule. Now in the twilight of his life and in ill health, Jack finds himself forgotten by the public, bored in retirement, and bitter.

Old age is often viewed by the young as something that happens to other people, and is an outcome that can be avoided through sheer will. The truth is that it happens to everyone, even superheroes.

This film is an allegorical exploration of aging in the form of a fictional documentary (mockumentary) that illustrates how growing older affects even the most powerful of individuals, but does not have to define one’s life, sense of self-worth, or meaning as a person.

“Has Been Hero” is structured in three acts; exposition of protagonist and inciting incident (revealing his true identity to the public for the first time), rising tension as he recounts his life’s goals and failures, and resolution as he finds solace.

Cinematically, this film was composed of static shots to create an ambience of stillness to invoke the idea that this is a world in which there is little variety. Colors are adjusted by vibrance and intensity to match the character we are speaking to, with Major Justice being devoid of most colors, and the younger sidekick Punt framed by a lively display of colorful comic books.

Aesthetically, “Has Been Hero” is a light and playful container with deeper sentimental contents. Tongue-in-cheek humor and silliness are meant to contrast the dark and depressed message of failure and regret Jack Lee recounts. The main characters’ personalities (Major Justice, Mr. Shadows, and Missy Lynx) showcase different aspects of how humans view aging. Major Justice’s bitter depression, Mr. Shadows’ vibrance for life, and Missy Lynx’s fiercely independent indifference. 

In a popular culture that worships youth, it is troubling for Jack to feel he is slowly becoming insignificant, but youth seems to have escaped him when he was not looking. The increasing momentum of the passing years, and the slow betrayal of his body however, did not go unnoticed. His mounting aches, pains, and sagging flesh have replaced what was once hard sinew, yet his desire to thrive remains just strong as it was so many years ago. This story can be seen as an inspiration, or a cautionary tale, comic-book kitsch, or emotional drama. It can be many things, but as a filmmaker my intention was only that it be meaningful to you.

(Source: ELO2019 Conference Programme)

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Vian Rasheed