Superheroes, like the gods and myths of old that predate them, are steeped in formula and archetypes. Dom Fera understands this, because Adam, the protagonist of his short film HERO draws heavily on the superheroes that came before him. He breaks the fourth wall like Deadpool, his yellow and green costume bears more than a passing resemblance to Kick-Ass’s, and underneath the hood and the cape is a scared young man in the vein of Peter Parker.
But he’s more than just a hodgepodge of other writers’ alter-egos. In 12 short minutes, Fera uses flashbacks and subtext-laden dialogue to tell the story of a man brought low, then elevated to the level of a god only to be brought low again. Many millennials have felt the humiliation of needing to go back to mum and dad for help while pretending that all is well, although relatively few of them have faced an invulnerable lava monster who “does Voldemort stuff”.
Fera’s running an acting decathlon here; fatigue-tinged bravado barely hiding genuine terror, and it goes a long way to making him feel like a real person who happens to have superpowers. Even his girlfriend Violet and goofy best friend Max feel like actual people as opposed to plot devices.
We see a glimpse of Adam’s first heroic deed – and a disaster he inadvertently caused – but Fera doesn’t fall back on the tired old “great power, great responsibility” cliché.
“I’m not this guy,” he cries as chaos reigns around him. “I said I could do it, but I’m not.”
“You are that guy,” Violet tells him. “You’re so scared of not being him… I think that means you want to be.”
It’s a message we could all use in 2017. You don’t have to be born a hero, or even become one. What’s important is deciding to be one.
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CAST: Dom Fera, Amber Grace, Jeffrey C. Wolf, Jacob Goodhart, Michael Santosusso
DIRECTOR: Dom Fera
WRITER: Dom Fera
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Matt Morgan
SYNOPSIS: Faced with his first real supervillain, an invincible superhero returns to his childhood home defeated — and is forced to reckon with his fear, his identity, and the people he hurt along the way.