The Meteor Man (film)
|The Meteor Man|
|Directed by||Robert Townsend|
|Written by||Robert Townsend|
|Produced by||Robert Townsend|
Loretha C. Jones
|Cinematography||John A. Alonzo|
|Edited by||Adam Bernardi|
Robaire W. Estel
|Music by||Cliff Eidelman|
Tinsel Townsend Studios
|Box office||$8 million|
The Meteor Man is a 1993 American superhero comedy film written, directed, co-produced and starring Robert Townsend with supporting roles by Marla Gibbs, Eddie Griffin, Robert Guillaume, James Earl Jones, Bill Cosby, and Another Bad Creation. The film also features special appearances by Luther Vandross, Sinbad, Naughty by Nature, Cypress Hill, and Big Daddy Kane. Townsend stars as a mild-mannered schoolteacher, who becomes a superhero after his neighborhood in Washington, D.C. is terrorized by street gangs.
It is one of the earliest superhero films to feature an African-American in a starring role.
Jefferson Reed (Robert Townsend) is a mild-mannered school teacher in Washington, D.C. His neighborhood is terrorized by a local gang called The Golden Lords, led by Simon Caine (Roy Fegan) and allied with drug lord Anthony Byers (Frank Gorshin). One night, Jeff steps in to rescue a woman from the gang only to end up running from them himself. Hiding in a garbage dumpster, he manages to escape. As he climbs out, he is struck down by a glowing, green meteorite. His spine is crushed and he receives severe burns. A small fragment of the meteor was left over and taken by a vagrant named Marvin (Bill Cosby). Reed awakens several days later in the hospital, but when his bandages are taken off, he is miraculously healed of all injuries.
Jeff soon discovered that the meteorite had left him with spectacular superpowers such as flight, x-ray/laser vision, superhuman strength, speed, and hearing, invulnerability, healing powers, the ability to absorb a book's content by touch, super breath, telepathy with dogs (which he uses to communicate with his own dog Ellington), and telekinesis. Confiding this to his parents Ted (Robert Guillaume) and Maxine (Marla Gibbs), they convince him to use his powers to help the community. His mother designs a costume and as the Meteor Man, he takes on the Golden Lords. He shuts down 15 crack houses, stops 11 robberies, brings peace between the police, the Crips (Cypress Hill), and the Bloods (Naughty by Nature) where they begin to work together to rebuild the community they destroyed, and plants a giant garden in the middle of the ghetto.
The Golden Lords learn Meteor Man's secret identity and his slowly diminishing powers. As the violence gets out of hand and the Golden Lords continue their attacks, the community members plan to make a deal with them, but Jeff instead teaches them about fighting for their beliefs. A now-powerless Jeff fights Simon and is beaten up. Simon points his gun at Jeff, but Jeff's neighbor Earnest Moses (James Earl Jones) throws a record at him, successfully knocking the gun out of Simon's hand. Suddenly, Marvin uses the meteor fragment to strip the Golden Lords of their guns. This enables the locals to stand up to the Golden Lords as they fight them alongside Marvin's dogs. Marvin accidentally drops the meteor and both Jeff and Simon grab the rock from both sides, gaining superpowers, and engage in a brawl.
When Simon is about to throw a dumpster at Jeff, he hears Ellington barking, telling Jeff that he can win, and throws the dumpster at Ellington instead, seriously injuring him. This angers Jeff and he disappears and returns as Meteor Man. They continue with their brawl with Meteor Man winning and draining Simon of his powers by absorbing them. He then defeats the rest of the Golden Lords. The locals all gather around Ellington who is now lying on the street, whimpering in pain. Jeff uses his x-ray vision to see that Ellington's ribs are broken. Before Jeff can do anything, his powers fade away, again. But just then, Marvin comes over and uses the last of his powers from the meteor fragment to heal Ellington's injuries, thus saving Ellington's life. The locals all applaud.
Anthony Byers and his gang then confront Meteor Man, but are out-numbered by the Bloods and the Crips who show up to protect Meteor Man. Anthony Byers and his gang are then arrested by the police after attempting to "take a vacation to the Bahamas".
- Robert Townsend as Jefferson Reed/Meteor Man
- Marla Gibbs as Maxine Reed, Jefferson's mother
- Eddie Griffin as Michael Anderson, Jefferson's friend
- Robert Guillaume as Ted Reed, Jefferson's father
- James Earl Jones as Earnest Moses, Jefferson's neighbor
- Bill Cosby as Marvin, a mute vagrant
- Another Bad Creation as Jr. Lords, the children members of the Golden Lords
- Stephanie E. Williams as Stacy, a teacher and Jefferson's love interest
- Roy Fegan as Simon Caine, the leader of the Golden Lords
- Frank Gorshin as Anthony Byers, a drug lord
- Luther Vandross as Jamison
- Sinbad as Malik, Stacy's boyfriend
- Naughty by Nature as The Bloods, a street gang
- Cypress Hill as The Crips, a street gang
- Big Daddy Kane as Pirate, member of the Golden Lords
- Don Cheadle as Goldilocks, member of the Golden Lords
- Nancy Wilson as Principal Laws, Jefferson Reed's boss
- Tommy 'Tiny' Lister as Digit, the Golden Lords' strongman
- Jenifer Lewis as Mrs. Williams, Lewis' mother
- Wallace Shawn as Mr. Little
- John Witherspoon as Clarence James Carter III
- Chris Tucker as MC in mall (uncredited)
- "It's for You" – Shanice
- "Don't Waste My Time" – Lisa Taylor
- "You Turn Me On" – Hi-Five
- "Who Can" – Ahmad
- "Your Future Is Our Future" – Daryl Coley & Frank McComb
- "I Say a Prayer" – Howard Hewett
- "Is It Just Too Much" – Keith Washington
- "Somebody Cares for You" – Frank McComb
- "Good Love" – Elaine Stepter
- "Ain't Nobody Bad (Like Meteor Man)" – Big Hat Ray Ray
- "Can't Let Her Get Away" - Michael Jackson
Marvel Comics produced an adaptation (Meteor Man: The Movie) and a sequel in the form of the six-issue limited series titled Meteor Man written by Bert Hubbard and Dwight Coye, and illustrated by Robert Walker and Jon Holdredge. In the comic, set in the mainstream Marvel Universe, Meteor Man met Spider-Man and Night Thrasher. Many years later, the Golden Lords reappeared on the pages of Miles Morales: Spider-Man #5.
Peter Rainer of the Los Angeles Times compares the film to "a fairly clunky sitcom" with its sense of righteous do-goodism, and although the film intends to inspire, it instead sends the message that it would take a superhero to clean up inner-city gang violence. Roger Ebert gave the film 2.5 (out of 4) stars, writing "The movie contains big laughs and moments of genuine feeling, but it seems to be put together out of assorted inspirations that were never assembled into one coherent story line....Kids may like the film and anyone can enjoy the moments of inspiration, but 'The Meteor Man' could have been better if it had tried to do less, more carefully."
The film gained some cult followings.
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- "The Meteor Man". Entertainment Weekly. 1993-08-20. Retrieved 2010-10-10.
- Roger Ebert (August 6, 1993). "The Meteor Man". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
- "CREATOR ROBERT TOWNSEND LOOKS BACK ON THE METEOR MAN, THE FIRST BLACK SUPERHERO FLICK, 25 YEARS LATER". Syfy. Retrieved December 29, 2020.