Defendor - that's d-o-r; don't forget it, it's important - is about a superhero fighting for justice in a cruel world. A world in which heroes need to look out for the little guy, because he can't look out for himself. At least, that's what's happing in the head of poor Arthur Poppington (Woody Harrelson).
In reality, Arthur is a mentally ill man who lost his mother at a young age. He's always had a thing for comic books, and now that he's full grown, he's taken up the mantle of Defendor in a quest to the find the man who killed his mother. But it isn't that simple, as you'll come to learn as the movie unfolds. There is an untold number of circumstances surrounding the death of his mother and no one single person is at fault. But only Arthur could boil it down to one simple verdict: Captain Industry killed his mother.
Along the way, he meets several enemies and a few allies. Kat Debrofkowitz (Kat Dennings), a name which Arthur loves to say, is a prostitute. While she doesn't exactly have a heart of gold, it's definitely made of a gold-like substance. Their relationship is important to the story, not because of what she does to Arthur, but because of the effect Arthur has on her. She's world weary. Not because of experience - she's young. She's weary because her profession shows her the absolute worst the world has to offer. She's deeply cynical and Arthur is a living contradiction to her world views.
The Police Captain, Roger Fairbanks (Clark Johnson), is an ally to Arthur, but Arthur is a nuisance to him. Still, Fairbanks does recognize him for what he is: a man that has dedicated his life to the good of others. They share that common bond, even if one of them upholds the law while the other upholds an invented code that possibly creates more problems than it solves. At one point Fairbanks says to him "you strike me as a man of great integrity." Although he's saying this primarily to get on Arthur's good side, he doesn't seem to be lying.
Throw in a very supportive employer (Michael Kelly), a nasty corrupt cop (Elias Koteas), and a criminal who may or may not be the infamous Captain Industry (Alan C. Peterson), and you've got a mostly great cast to back up Harrelson's fantastic performance.
At times, Defendor is definitely a dark comedy. His crime fighting methods are comically unorthodox, though he obviously doesn't think so. To him, these are acceptable ways to fight crime. In his defense, they work. A swarm of angry wasps - angry because they were kept in a jar - will stop plenty of criminals in their tracks. Lime juice does sting the eyes. His ingenuity is admirable. But what happens when he goes up against an enemy fully clothed and wearing goggles? I assume he hasn't thought about this.
Defendor is a much better film than it got credit for. It had trouble finding a studio and got a very meager theatrical release, which is a crying shame, especially considering the junk that fills cinemas on a weekly basis. Despite its goofy premise, Defendor is a very engaging, touching movie that packs a bigger punch than most of its big budget counterparts.
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