Mystery Men (1999)

At the turn of last century the superhero genre was on the cusp of a major elevation in output. Despite Batman and Robin crashing and burning that franchise, films like Blade, X-Men and Spider-man were all in various stages of production and would go on to embolden the now saturated superhero production line we enjoy or lament currently.

"a rather basic tale, uplifted greatly by a talented cast that copiously ad-lib"

A lot of comic book characters were being optioned back then, with some obscure or indie titles being snapped up in the hope of making it to the silver screen. One of those was a book called The Flaming Carrot Comic. Supporting characters from this outlandish tome would be selected to feature in a story about underdogs who idolise a real superhero, Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear), and want to do what he does. But they have no super powers, no talent and basically suck.

Commercial director Kinka Usher assembled a wonderful cast including Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria, William H. Macy, Janeane Garofalo, Pee Wee Herman himself Paul Ruebens and Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush. It was an exploration of heroes and their foibles, decades before The Boys ever existed. This stellar assembly of talent killed it in their disparate and eclectic roles and delivered a solid parody of superhero stories that was funny, endearing and absolutely tanked at the box-office. It barely made back half its production budget.Mystery Men (1999)

Champion City is enjoying a peaceful time thanks to the exploits of its superhero, Captain Amazing (Kinnear). But behind the scenes, Amazing is languishing in irrelevance, fading into the background of peace time and losing his adoration and influence. So he decides to help parole one of his deadliest enemies, Casanova Frankenstein (Rush) and then quickly learns that’s a very bad idea. With Amazing kidnapped, Champion City is at the mercy of Frankenstein and his wayward cohorts. It befalls a trio of rag tag citizens with superhero fantasies (Stiller, Mackey and Azaria) to rally like-minded nobodies and save it.

This is a rather basic tale, uplifted greatly by a talented cast that copiously ad-lib and a director smart enough to let them. It’s light-hearted, enjoyably so, that focuses greatly on the themes of the downtrodden and the dreamer. If one has to take a point off it’s for a lack of real jeopardy and, as simple as this story is, it’s length. It may have failed at the box office, but there was no doubt it would find its audience and become a beloved cult film in due course. It’s well deserved at that.

4/5 stars


Mystery Men (1999)

4k details divider

4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray

Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray
- October 12, 2021
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 4K Ultra HD;  Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: 4K region-free; blu-ray locked to Region A


KINO LORBER gives us a native 4K scan of the original camera negative and it’s SO GOOD. From the soft DVD of yesteryear to the improved but inconsistent blu-ray, this is the quality job on a restoration you’ve been waiting for. The predominantly night set movie has never looked sharper with the sumptuous details of Champion city coming alive in glorious DOLBY Vision. The pop art style lighting also blazes off your screen. There is natural filmic grain intact from the 35mm print with no sign of DNR. There are a few composite shots throughout where the grain becomes noticeable but it’s a solid job.


Decent DTS-HD 5.1 surround mix that gets the job done but this is a movie that would have benefited greatly from an ATMOS 7.1 mix, heavy on directional effects and ambiance. You get plenty of thump from the 5.1, especially in the finale, but it’s a front speaker focused mix more often than not. You also get a DTS-HD 2.0 mix if that’s your jam.



  • Audio Commentary by Director Kinka Usher

Special Features:

You get a second Blu-ray Disc that holds a director’s commentary, newish interviews and some 20+ minutes on various aspects of the production. Not exhaustive but informative. Being a US release (I’m in Australia), the obligatory slip case is included including spiffed up artwork we’ve seen before. Not too bad.

  • We're the Other Guys!: The Making of Mystery Men with Director Kinka Usher – Extended Version (30:00)
  • I'm a Superhero, Mother: The Costumes of Mystery Men with Designer Marilyn Vance (12:00)
  • Inside Champion City: The Effects of Mystery Men with VFX Supervisor Todd Tucker (10:00)
  • Disco is Life! The Score(s) of Mystery Men with Film Music Historian Daniel Schweiger – Extended Version (12:00)
  • Spotlight on Location: The Original Making of Mystery Men (17:40)
  • Deleted Scenes (19:22)
  • Theatrical Trailer

4k rating divider

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 3/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

3.5/5 stars

Film Details

Mystery Men (1999)

MPAA Rating: PG-13.
121 mins
: Kinka Usher
Neil Cuthbert
Ben Stiller; Janeane Garofalo; William H. Macy
: Action | Thriller
Universal Pictures presents a new league of heroes that step to a different beat.
Memorable Movie Quote: "He who questions training only trains himself at asking questions"
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
August 6, 1999
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 12, 2021.
Synopsis: A group of inept amateur superheroes must try to save the day when a supervillain threatens to destroy a major superhero and the city.


Mystery Men (1999)