In “Archenemy,” Joe Manganiello plays Max Fist, who claims he’s a hero from another dimension who has somehow landed on Earth and been stripped of his powers. In other superhero movies, that might be the start of a rousing and upbeat redemption arc. In the hands of the producers of the gonzo art horror film “Mandy,” it’s something else entirely.
As the first trailer for the film makes clear, writer-director Adam Egypt Mortimer is using Max Fist to take a darker and grittier approach to the superhero genre.
Instead of treating him like a powerful champion, no one believes Max’s claims — except for a teenager named Hamster (Skylan Brooks, “The Darkest Minds”) and his sister Indigo (Zolee Griggs, “Adam Ruins Everything”). The siblings convince Max to help them take out a local drug gang, where Max’s abilities are put to a violent and harrowing test.
Amy Seimetz (“Pet Semetary,” “You’re Next”) and Glenn Howerton (“The Hunt,” “A.P. Bio”) co-star in the film, which was produced by Daniel Noah, Lisa Whalen, and Elijah Wood for SpectreVision. The company specializes in an artistically elevated style of genre storytelling, from 2014’s “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” to 2018’s “Mandy.” They backed Mortimer’s previous film, “Daniel Isn’t Real,” a dark psychological thriller.
Manganiello and his brother Nick Manganiello also produced “Archenemy” through their production company 3:59. Kim Sherman and Mortimer are also producers on the film, which was financed in part through Legion M, Head Gear FIlms, Almost Never Films, and Voltage Pictures.
The film is set for release in 2021.