What comes to mind when you think of a superhero? Special powers? Superhuman strength? Fighting the evil villains? All good, all the time?
Many young people dream of becoming superheroes. Eventually, most of them come to the realization that being a superhero is incompatible with real life, with being human.
…Or is it?
Ryan Moore’s flips the typical superhero image on its head in All Earthly Constraints. A mélange of drama, comedy, action, and sci-fi, Moore’s debut feature film tells the story of Emily (played by Bre Mueck), a struggling screenwriter who works in a gelato shop. Emily’s screenplay is about a struggling screenwriter named Emma, who works in a coffee shop…and who also is secretly a superheroine named Emmageddon.
Emmageddon most certainly does not fit the usual superhero mold. In Moore’s own words, “Yes, she kicks, punches, and slaps people who deserve to be kicked, punched, and slapped. And she’s good at it.” Unlike Superman, Spiderman, and Batman, however, Emmageddon does not have any extraordinary powers or superhuman capabilities. She openly discusses her doubts, fears, and insecurities. She recognizes her flaws. She is not immune to physical or emotional pain. As Mueck says, “It was great to play a character who, in the beginning of the film is unhappy and fed up with the way things are, but who decides to take action and become the heroine of her story. There’s something very empowering about that.”
Emmageddon is a self-proclaimed superheroine. But her costume does not mask her imperfections.
All Earthly Constraints represents an important development in popular culture because it depicts the superhero as a relatable human character. In this way, Moore also challenges the notion of what it means to be strong and powerful. Strength does not have to translate to physical prowess, perpetual confidence, or impenetrability to emotions. Emmageddon demonstrates the courage that it takes to look within ourselves, and to recognize our assets and our shortcomings in order to make ourselves better. The film also calls to question the traditional portrayal of good and evil as mutually exclusive. Instead of solely acting the “good girl” who combats evil in the outside world, Emmageddon recognizes and grapples with the conflicting yet cohabitating sources of good and evil within herself.
You don’t need to fly over buildings or shoot lasers with your eyes in order to be a superhero(ine). Having the courage to look within yourself and to show your true colors can be what it takes to have a lasting impact on the world.
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