Death of a Superhero

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 – 7:30pm
Ireland/Germany 2011. Director: Ian Fitzgibbon
Cast: Andy Serkis, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aisling Loftus, Michael McElhatton, Sharon Horgan, Jessica Schwarz

Fifteen-year-old Donald (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) lives with all the usual teenage concerns: fitting in at school, obsessing about losing his virginity, annoyingly overprotective parents — plus a unique one: he has terminal cancer. A talented artist, Donald withdraws more and more into the fantasy comic-book world he has created in his ever-present sketchbooks. In these drawings — brought to life in classic, hand-drawn 2-D animated sequences throughout the film — Donald is a brawny, invincible superhero battling a syringe-fingered mad scientist known as The Glove and his sexy, scantily-clad assistant. Donald’s concerned parents send their defensive, uncooperative son to unconventional psychologist Dr. King (Andy Serkis), a thanatologist (or “death doctor”) who challenges the young man to confront his fear and anger and make the best of the time he has left. With Dr. King’s support, Donald embarks on a tentative romance with fellow misfit Shelly (Aisling Loftus). In less talented hands this could be mawkish material; director Ian Fitzgibbon’s clever, genuinely moving film, adapted from Anthony McCarten’s novel, is infused with a biting humour, impressive visual flourishes, and wonderful performances. “Manages to turn the grimmest of grim subjects into something charming, raunchy, and improbably uplifting” (Andrew Lapin, NPR). “Intelligent, honest, and resonant” (Kenji Fukushima,Slant). Colour, HDCAM. 94 mins.

Post-screening discussion with Dr. Jocelyne Lessard, PhD, RPsych, a psychologist for the oncology service at B.C. Children’s Hospital, where she offers assessment, consultation, and therapy to patients and their family members. She also has a small private practice in Vancouver. Dr. Lessard is passionate about understanding how our close relationships allow us to build resilience and manage grief, loss, and trauma.

Moderated by Dr. Harry Karlinsky, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia.


“Charming, raunchy and improbably uplifting.”

NPR | full review

“In its wide-ranging exploration of how this sickly young man copes with the knowledge that his days are numbered, Death of a Superhero turns out to be more intelligent, honest, and resonant than one might have expected.”

Slant Magazine | full review