By Travis Trombley
If you've never had the pleasure, the film is classic cop drama, but the "city" is actually a body. Specifically, the body of a zookeeper named Frank who, against the wishes of his daughter, practices the habits of healthy living you'd expect from a zookeeper named Frank (indeed, fried chicken and fart jokes abound in this film). Jones is a white blood cell (a cop) who must learn to work with his new partner, a by-the-book "consultant" cold pill named Drix, in order to stop a new threat (a virus named Thrax) that everybody else refuses to acknowledge as real. It's familiar, but the backdrop adds an interesting degree of depth.
Frank's poor health is reflected on the inside as a rotting, "crime" infested city headed by a negligent mayor who's more concerned with his own reelection than Frank's welfare (yeah, like the mayor in Jaws...). Reporters pester him about the "education" of young red blood cells not knowing how to carry oxygen and the "housing crisis" for fat cells. Dock workers in the mouth talk about the need for more "hand washing" initiatives, and a mayoral candidate establishes a platform on long-term goals like "ordering salads." Worse yet, these institutional issues make possible the more existential threat that is Thrax's plan to kill Frank by posing as a common cold before attacking the Hypothalamus, thus blending the common crime drama with the bigger, "we're all gonna die" superhero narrative.
This combination of story structures got me thinking about our conceptualization of the "good" and how that translates to the roles of superheroes in relation to that conceptualization in their mainstream narratives. Just as Osmosis and Drix can only help Frank by eliminating external threats, superheroes are relatively limited in their capacities to achieve "justice."
In other words, I wonder if superheroes help improve the health of a community in which they operate, or - like white blood cells - do they only function to eliminate the 'bad' stuff?
Be sure to check out our review of Black Panther to see how the film addresses this issue of the reactive hero.