|Directed by||Peter Stebbings|
|Produced by||Nicholas Tabarrok|
|Written by||Peter Stebbings|
|Music by||John Rowley|
|Editing by||Geoff Ashenhurst|
|Distributed by||Alliance Films|
|Running time||101 minutes|
Defendor /dɨˈfɛndɔr/ is a 2009 Canadian superhero comedy-drama film written and directed by Peter Stebbings, and starring Woody Harrelson, Kat Dennings, Elias Koteas and Sandra Oh. The story tells of a mentally ill man who adopts the persona of a real-life superhero named Defendor on a quest to find his arch enemy, Captain Industry. Defendor, Stebbings' feature film debut, was written in 2005 and filmed in January 2009 in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, and had its North American theatrical release on February 19, 2010. It has also been released to DVD on April 13, 2010.
A psychiatrist, Dr. Park (Sandra Oh), is interviewing Arthur Poppington / "Defendor" (Woody Harrelson), who tells about assaulting a police officer who claims to be working undercover. Dooney (Elias Koteas) is a corrupt detective who "Defendor" believes is in the employ of his arch-nemesis, "Captain Industry." Arthur's mother left him as a child, and died from drug abuse some years later. His grandfather said that the "captains of industry" killed her. As a child Arthur misinterpreted this and thought that a particular man was responsible.
Arthur is arrested for assaulting Dooney, but the police captain in charge, Fairbanks (Clark Johnson) strikes up a relationship with Poppington because their grandfathers both served in the war. This comes up because of the trench club that Poppington uses as a weapon. After Arthur is released, he takes his club and disappears.
Arthur is living in the government construction depot where he works during the day. His life is very solitary, but after another confrontation with Dooney, he meets Angel (Kat Dennings), a prostitute who was smoking crack with Dooney. After he is brutally beaten by Dooney's friends, she helps him recover. He learns that she is knows of Captain Industry's whereabouts, lets her move in with him and enlists her help in apprehending Captain Industry. Angel reveals her real name is Katerina Debrofkowitz.
Arthur's boss and close friend Paul (Michael Kelly), becomes concerned because Arthur is living at the construction depot with a prostitute. Paul tries to help Arthur, offering him the opportunity to come and live with him and his family. Arthur rejects the offer. Paul gives Arthur a cell phone to use in case he is ever needed. That night, Arthur ventures out to spy on "Captain Industry" and Dooney in a meeting but reveals himself. After a short chase, Arthur calls Paul, then is shot. Paul gets Angel to take him to Arthur, and they call paramedics.
While Arthur is in surgery, Paul tells Angel to leave Arthur alone. They are relieved when they find out that he was shot with training bullets. Angel visits Arthur, who is lying unconscious in recovery, and reveals that she ran away from home because her father was physically abusing her. After she leaves, Arthur opens his eyes, having heard everything. Angered at how Angel was treated, Arthur walks down to the mall dressed in his hospital gown, and beats up Mr. Debrofkowitz at his store.
After the psychiatrist absorbs all this, she tells Arthur that what she admires most about him is his honesty, although she also says that there are better ways of dealing with someone like Mr. Debrofkowitz. A hearing prior to their meeting revealed that Paul came to defend Arthur after the issue at the mall, telling him about Arthur's delusions of being Defendor, and the judge mandated a psychological evaluation to determine if he can be returned to society or go to prison. A reporter approaches Paul and convinces him to let her run a story about Arthur as the Defendor, and he agrees in hopes of getting approval. People become inspired by Defendor's attempts to save lives and fight crime despite personal risk. The judge orders Paul to reintroduce Arthur to society, but news that he can never be Defendor again upsets Arthur.
Depressed about having to leave Arthur, Angel becomes desperate for a fix, and tries to get back together with Dooney. However, knowing about her affiliation with Defendor, he takes her hostage and threatens Arthur against revealing anything he had learned to the police. Arthur decides to save Angel and once again assumes his Defendor persona. Kat manages to escape from Dooney and the pair reunite. Angel is devastated when Arthur reveals he still plans to go after Captain Industry, and she tells him that she lied about the identity of Captain Industry. She tells Arthur to carry a gun she stole from Dooney.
Defendor manages to subdue Industry's henchmen, but does not defend himself against Captain Industry who shoots him. As Arthur lies dying, Angel runs to help him. She promises to stop smoking crack and to get a job. In an earlier conversation Kat had revealed she had always had a talent in writing, that Arthur had described as being "like Lois Lane". She promises to be like her and Arthur dies in her arms.
Dooney and Captain Industry are arrested. Dooney is sentenced to 26 years in prison and Captain Industry is extradited to his home country. A memorial service is held for Defendor under a spray paint mural that was drawn in his honor. The psychiatrist and her daughter attend, remembering the man and inspired by the hero that no one could see. The final scene is of Angel sitting at her typewriter, writing stories.
- Woody Harrelson as Arthur Poppington/Defendor
- Kat Dennings as Katerina "Kat" Debrofkowitz/Angel, a young prostitute
- Sandra Oh as Dr. Park, Arthur's psychiatrist
- Elias Koteas as Chuck Dooney, a corrupt police detective
- Michael Kelly as Paul Carter
- Lisa Ray as Dominique Ball
- Max Dreesen as young Arthur
- Graham Abbey as Constable Mike
- Kristin Booth as Wendy Carter
- Dakota Goyo as Jack Carter
- Charlotte Sullivan as Fay Poppington
Defendor is actor Peter Stebbings' first produced screenplay and his debut as a director. He wrote the first draft of his Defendor script in 2005 when the idea came to him "in one whole piece". He failed to sell the script to numerous major Hollywood studios because it did not fit into a particular genre; he said that "[The studios] didn't want to touch it, but all the actors and their agents wanted to." Nicholas Tabarrok of independent production company Darius Films agreed to back the project after he "was hooked from the very first read", and agreed to fly Stebbings from Toronto to Los Angeles so that he could meet the actors. Ellen Page was at one stage attached to star when production was slated to begin in 2007, but pulled out. He collected financing from Canadian film fund Telefilm Canada—about one quarter of the film's C$4 million budget—and "turn[ed] over stones to find the rest". After he added all of his personal savings, the film was still $100,000 under its financial requirements. Though principal photography was scheduled to take place from November 21 through December 17, 2008, it was delayed until mid-January 2009 and continued through the end of January. Filming took place in and around in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario. Specific filming locations included the Hamilton City Centre, Humber River Regional Hospital and a Toronto warehouse.
The producers consulted with workers from Toronto's social services, including activist Wendy Babcock, to help Kat Dennings develop her character; they wanted people with experience using crack cocaine and doing sex work so she could create a more realistic character.
Defendor had its world premiere at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival in September. Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group acquired the distribution rights to the film in the United States and most of Asia, Europe and South America. The Canadian rights were pre-sold to Alliance Entertainment as part of the film's financing deals.
However, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group decided to not release the film in the United States theatrically, so Darius Films (which produced the film) self-released the film in the United States theatrically on February 26, 2010. It has also been released to DVD on April 13, 2010.
Defendor received a 67% (fresh) Rotten Tomato rating from critics, the majority praising Woody Harrelson's performance as the driving force of the film. Linda Barnard of the Toronto Star wrote writer/director Stebbings "fills Defendor with humorous bits, comic treats dropped in quickly and without fanfare", while David Germain of the Associated Press faults the film for its "inconsistent tone".
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