There is something awfully familiar about writer-director Michael Morrissey’s feature debut. Much like the comic-book inspired Super and Kick-Ass, but a lot darker, Boy Wonder is an incisive psychological thriller about a teenager bent on seeking vengeance for his mother’s murder. He turns to vigilantism and becomes a “hero” to the city’s defenseless woman, beating up pimps and misogynists along the way. Yes, it does bear a very close resemblance to Batman, but Boy Wonder, does enough to raise an eyebrow or two.
Our hero, Sean, is first introduced as a quiet ten-year old with a passion for classical music. On the surface he appears happy, but deep down he is troubled by years of abuse at the hand of his alcoholic father. Revealed through barely decipherable flashbacks we witness the ten-year old watch his father beating his mother. Worst of all, Sean witnesses his mother’s murder during a carjacking.
The story jumps nine years ahead to a quiet, distant, introverted and disturbed teenage Sean, still quietly struggling with the same issues. Despite being a straight-A student and working out at a kickboxing gym in his spare time, Sean desires more. He soon finds himself prowling gang invested neighbourhoods at night, armed only with a black hoodie and an extensive set of combat skills. As his anger festers, triggered by flashbacks of his mother’s killer, Sean takes on society’s bullies, who sometimes appear at least twice as big as him. Is this unstable teenage boy in over his head? Or is there actually a purpose behind his hunger for justice?
Yes the Dark Knight themes are evident, but Boy Wonder (a name once given to Batman’s sidekick, Robin), manages to stand on its own in certain key areas. Where Batman plays out like a comic book film, Boy Wonder lives in the real world (no flashy cape and tights) and plays out like a really dark drama. And although it’s well shot, in dark, gritty streets and gloomy rooms, it only manages to delve so far, due to its low-budget.
Don’t let the cheesy poster art fool you. If you’re a comic book or graphic novel enthusiast, Boy Wonder offers ample entertainment.