ByJack Giroux, writer at
Jack Giroux

The movie I left Comic-Con thinking about the most isn't actually a movie that paid a visit to Hall H, but one that had hit theaters at the start of the nerd convention: Luc Besson's [Lucy](movie:935973). Besson's return to form is a breath of fresh air for a variety of reasons. It's a summer action movie way under two hours, it's unpredictable and it's centered around a female character who, like that other female superhero [Black Widow](movie:1070824), is played by Scarlett Johansson. To make it even sweeter, this character is not defined by a romantic relationship, and she's the kind of character generally reserved for men. She's a superhero, and maybe the first female superhero to have her own (good) movie.

Besson has made an inventive R-rated superhero origin story. Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is a character whose journey isn't all that different from most who put on a cape and mask. She's just an average Jane until she's the victim of a freak accident. She's kidnapped, becomes a drug mule and has a new drug planted in her stomach. When she gets a swift kick to the tummy, those drugs break loose and have a life-altering effect.

The whole movie builds towards Lucy accessing 100% of her brain. When she does reach her maximum potential, she uses her powers for a reason other than saving the world. This superhero's mission: find more of the drugs they put inside her in order to save herself. That's it. The MacGuffin she chases isn't a cosmic cube, but rather the cargo of a few fellow mules. Just because she has superpowers doesn't mean she has to commit the most super heroic acts.

Similar to Superman in [Man of Steel](movie:15593) and others, Lucy isn't bothered by a little collateral damage on her journey. In one CG-overload car chase scene, she's destroying cars left and right. When the cops are after her, instead of safely stopping them by crashing their cars into a pole, she flips them over at high speed. A more thoughtful superhero would've simply turned the police cars off. Lucy, however, doesn't give a damn about the innocent lives she may have taken. As she says to a group of scientists and an expendable police officer, nobody ever truly dies. The stakes most superheroes face don't phase Lucy.

"There's more at stake here than our lives or the lives of those around us. When the world finds out what you can do, it's gonna change everything -- our beliefs, our notions of what it means to be human, everything." Those aren't words of wisdom from Lucy's talking head, played by Morgan Freeman, but from Man of Steel's Pa Kent. The exact lines might as well have been in this movie, though, because it features a similar speech from Freeman's scientist character. That's what almost every superhero is told at some point in their life, that they're going to change the world. Lucy does help change our world, just not by defeating a super villain. Her power is knowledge, a knowledge that will indeed change the world.

Like most heroes nervous about their calling, Lucy resists the idea. But here it's for another reason: she's indifferent. Not even for a second does she consider a life of crime fighting.

Not that any villain would stand a chance with her. Lucy has abilities that exceed most superhero powers. Since she's not based on a comic book, that brain power idea has been taken to task by viewers for its lack of realism. Maybe because Besson tries to be "deep" with this movie, he's made it an easy target through its preposterousness. But it's really no different than Christopher Nolan's Batman movies with its silly ideas and ridiculous plot points masked by seriousness.

Lucy is more reminiscent of Doug Liman's Jumper. It asks a similar question: What if someone with powers doesn't want to become a superhero? Jumper never answers it. Besson's movie does: we get a character who is more interested in saving herself than the world. Because of that selfish decision, that doesn't make Lucy our most heroic of superheroes, but she does bare the marks of our traditional comic book protagonist by being an average person who has a freak accident, learns to control her powers, discovers who and what she is in the process and at some point puts her powers to good use. Since our protagonist is a woman, that makes these tropes all the cooler.

If Lucy was based on a comic book, there'd be no question that the character is a superhero. Since Besson's action movie is an original film, the filmmaker hasn't gotten his due for making a superhero picture starring a woman. Lucy, like all superheroes, reaches her potential by the end: she's everywhere. If there was a sequel, she'd fight global warming, not a man in a cape. Stopping a petty thief or bank robbery is chump change to her. She'll let the little guys -- Batman and Superman -- handle those problems. As of this moment, Lucy is the most powerful superhero on the planet. That hero just so happens to be a woman.


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