Over the past few years the popularity of comic books have not only penetrated the world of film but made its way onto television screens across the world. After success on The Walking Dead other networks jumped on the bandwagon makings shows about everything from retro secret agents (ABC’s Agent Carter) to zombie PI’s (CW’s iZombie ) and sometimes just straight up superheroes (CW’s Arrow, The Flash). With the recent announcements of Legion on FX and Powerless on NBC this trend doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. With all the content out there it is hard to believe that one of the best superhero shows may not even technically be a superhero show.
Produced by Mark Burnett (Survivor, Shark Tank) and Robert Rodriguez (From Dusk Till Dawn, Sin City) Lucha Underground is an American lucha libre promotion currently being shown on the El Rey Network. Debuting in late 2014 it quickly gained cult status within the wrestling world for its high flying action, video game-esque characters and serial style storytelling. What hit me though is how similar it is to some of my favorite superhero franchises. In fact at times it can actually be better some of the biggest superhero movies going today. Don’t believe me? Well here are 4 Reasons Lucha Underground is the Perfect Superhero Show.
Clear Cut Heroes and Villains
One of the biggest points of contention of Batman v Superman was the less than heroic portrayal of their heroes. To put it frankly they never felt like they were actual heroes. This isn’t the case in Lucha Underground though. Taking cues from the El Santo movies of old the luchadores are portrayed as larger than life figures with very distinct personalities. You have heroes like Fenix and Prince Puma as Green Arrow like heroes using only their wits and physical gifts to secure victory. Or how about Rey Mysterio Jr coming in as a revered legend of the sport. On the bad guy (or heel in wrestling vernacular) side are wrestlers like Matanza or Mil Muertes, hulking beasts using brute strength and cheating to win. Then there are the smaller heels like King Cuerno who has a Kraven the Hunter type gimmick. They even have Punisher style anti-heroes like Pentagon Jr who are beloved despite their villainous ways. Can it be a bit simplistic? A bit. But at the end of the day aren’t we all watching superhero movies to see good triumph over evil?
A Diverse Cast of Characters
The other big knock against both DC and Marvel is an overall lack of diversity. Lucha Underground has not only luchadores from Mexico but talent from the United States, Canada and even South Africa. Even more impressive are the way women in the promotion are treated. Unlike like most companies they aren’t relegated to being just eye candy. On the contrary, they are some of the more promoted wrestlers in the company. The best example of this is luchadora Ivelisse. Paired with Son of Havoc and Angelico the trio not only held the Trios Tag belt but they are one of the most popular acts on the company. Having featured women not only competitive matches but also main events Lucha Underground is ahead of the curb when it comes to things like the Marvel Cinematic Universe let alone other wrestling companies.
Crazy Telenovela Style Storytelling
Choosing to film the show like a regular TV show as opposed to a wrestling show Lucha Underground had a professionalism to it’s skits most wrestling shows lack. Which is good because the plots used could just as easily fit in on an episode of Supernatural. Part Mortal Kombat and part telenovela Lucha Underground takes the craziest parts of both and uses them for their storylines. Season one alone had a monster eat the face off a wrestler, mythical power stones and a luchador who is supposedly a dragon reborn. This isn’t even mentioning the fact that seemingly every thug in Boyle Heights wears lucha masks. Season 2 gets even crazier with the mythology surrounding the ancient tribes, law enforcement coming after owner Dario Cueto, Lorenzo working for a corrupt government and time travel. That’s right, time travel. Is it ridiculous? Absolutely. But when the stories are told as well as they are it is hard to dislike it.
The Death Defying Action
Wrestling in the United States has a unique style to it with the focus on showmanship over athleticism. This isn’t the case in Lucha Underground. Like traditional lucha libre the style is more based on high flying and acrobatics. Top stars like Prince Puma and Fenix have shown themselves to be some of the best high fliers in the world. It isn’t just all in the ring either. Over the past two seasons we have seen devastating casket matches, Sexy Star and Mariposa battle in the rafters and Angelico take some suicidal leaps off Dario Cueto’s office. To steal a phrase after seeing some of the things these luchadores can do you will believe a man can fly.
Now I understand that typical pro wrestling isn’t for everyone. To some it is the silly fake fighting and I totally get why it may not appeal to some. But if you are a fan of superheroes or comic books it is definitely worth checking out. With a colorful cast of characters, intriguing (and sometimes ridiculous) storytelling and one-of-a-kind action Lucha Underground has everything you could want out of a superhero series. If nothing else it is more fun to watch than anything Gotham has been for its two seasons.