Robert Townsend’s ‘The Meteor Man’ – Overlooked and Unloved? (Now on Blu-ray)

'The Meteor Man'

‘The Meteor Man’

With all the talk about Black Panther, Luke Cage, Black Lightning and other black superheroes finally coming to the screen, it’s perhaps odd that Robert Townsend’s 1991 film “The Meteor Man” has never really found any love. It was a box office bomb when it was first released; but unlike other black films that also bombed, and would later find an audience, becoming cult favorites (such as “Love Jones” and Townsend’s earlier “The Five Heartbeats”), “Meteor Man” wasn’t quite as lucky.

The premise is straight out of an old comic book in which Townsend plays Jefferson Reed, a Washington D.C. teacher in a troubled neighborhood who is one day stuck by a chunk of a meteor, giving him super powers. But, of course, being Townsend, he plays up the comic situations, instead of going dark and heavy.

The film just failed to catch on. Who knows why; perhaps its lack of a “coolness” factor? It’s an unabashed kid’s movies, which should be made clear, and, as a result, film-goers maybe thought that they were too adult and sophisticated for it. They like their superheroes either filled with angst or are super cool rich guys. Townsend’s character is just a really nice guy who wants to improve his community. The villains in the film are a bunch of neighborhood punks, not some mutated super villain out to destroy the universe.

Then again, perhaps it was the fact that Townsend’s superhero wasn’t perfect. He can fly, but he’s terrified of heights; He could absorb all the knowledge of the world, but forget it all after 15 minutes; He was imperfect which made him charming. People like their superheroes perfect I guess.
Or maybe it could be that the film was possibly ahead of its time, made more than a decade before superheroes became all the rage in Hollywood.

But I’ve always liked it. Yes, it’s goofy and decidedly old fashioned, and just plain corny at times. But it’s heartfelt, very entertaining, with some genuine laugh out loud moments.

And it’s 1000 times better than that other forgotten superhero movie, “Steel” with Shaquille O’Neal. Ever seen that one? Believe me, you don’t want to. It’s the kind of film where you’ll keep saying to yourself, “What were they thinking?” every minute of the movie.
But if you like “Meteor Man” as I do, you should know that its on blu-ray, though Olive Films. Although it lacks any extra features.

Here is the trailer:

9 Comments

  1. I loved “Meteor Man”. I watched it on television as a kid. I was also and still am a big fan of the movie “Blankman”, which kind of had a story in the same vein as “Meteor Man”. Not sure which came first. I’m assuming “Meteor Man” did. Good to see that it is available on blu-ray.

  2. I agree with Jaye. I love Meteor Man, for how silly and goofy it is. It is definitely a kids movie and it is ahead of its time. I think if Robert Townsend made it for both audiences it would have done better.

  3. Robert Townsend’s The Meteor Man (1993) is absolutely underappreciated, especially in how it reflected the times, in a timeless way. The Golden Lords and later revealed corrupt Politicians in his film who were poisoning Jefferson Reed’s community through drugs and negative influence of youth, are no different than what we see today in politicians, street violence and institutionalized racism. Much like the author said in this article, it wasn’t over-scaled in some villain deciding to destroy the universe; the integrity of the community was at risk more than anything. That’s what made it special.

    If you ask me, that film is very much needed today. That’s why I’ve been developing an independent short film, which Robert Townsend himself has already acknowledged. It is wholly dedicated to him as an homage to the inspiration his Superhero film left behind for our generation. My goal is for it to be so well-received, that it can develop into a feature, in which I can work alongside him on to get it the attention it deserves. Even as a beginning Filmmaker, I am confident that I have what it takes to tell that story in a new light that catches on with the modern moviegoers.

    See for yourself. I’m in the earliest stages of development, and the aesthetic speaks for itself:
    https://www.facebook.com/MeteorMan2018/

    Love!

    – Hadnot

  4. I definitely agree that ‘The Meteor Man’ doesn’t get the love it deserves. It’s such a classic tale of good versus evil. I’m glad it’s getting a Blu-ray release.

  5. Man, what was going on with Robert Townsend back in the day?? FIVE HEARTS was a bomb, METEOR MAN a bomb, wow. Anyway I saw Meteor Man in a crowded movie theatre ( I was in my late teens, college) took my younger siblings to see it, and everyone in the theatre cheered and loved it. It’s interesting to read how this and LOVE JONES were considered bombs, when I saw them in crowded cinemas and the crowds loved it. Now I do remember sneaking in empty theatre to see the FIVE HEARTBEATS – don’t hate me, I was a poor college student – and absolutely loved it. It has to be the marketing. We saw another movie – don’t remember – and decided to see HEARTBEATS but had no idea what it was about. We never HEARD about the FIVE HEARTBEATS, I don’t even remember seeing a commercial or trailer. But we recommended it to everyone afterwards.

    • I saw “Meteor Man” in theatres too in ’93 with my older siblings. The theatre we went to go see it at was crowded too. Everybody was cheering and loved the movie. Robert Townsend gave a fresh spin on the superhero flick, I think that’s why it may not have done well at the box office. It went over people’s head, and it was ahead of its time. But, I still appreciate the movie still today as I did back in the day.

  6. I have to share the love. In 1993 , I was 14 and this film seemed right on time. Yes th plot was ludicrous but the film itself highlighted the early 90s and just how goofy we all were.The film is pure joy and a message of two to boot. Excellent cinema.

  7. Much of the film I could watch over and over again as a kid, but I cringe looking at some of it now. Still, I think the theme came across really well. I most remember Meteor Man digging his hands into the ground, rebuilding the community, uniting residents of the neighborhood, fighting fear and crime, etc.

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