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Mystery Men (1999) Poster

(1999)

Trivia

Jump to: Director Cameo (1) | Spoilers (4)
According to Ben Stiller in an interview on Late Show with David Letterman (1993), he and Greg Kinnear got into a heated argument on the set. Afterwards, Stiller tried to be released from the film.
A number of the sets used in the film are the same sets used in Batman Forever (1995).
The Mystery Men were the supporting cast of an underground superhero comic book called the Flaming Carrot. Mr. Furious and the Shoveler were the only ones from the comic to make it into the movie. Captain Amazing was created as a replacement for the Flaming Carrot, who was felt to be too bizarre to bring to the silver screen.
The Bowler's stream-of-consciousness monologue in support of independent filmmaking at the conclusion of the film was originally not intended to be included in the finished print. Janeane Garofalo was instructed by director Kinka Usher to say whatever came to her mind at the time (Usher simply wanted to use up some excess film.) Usher liked her performance so much he edited it into the final print.
Tom Waits' odd hand gestures when explaining the psychofrakulator were the result of him writing his dialogue on his fingers and reading the words as he went along.
Cameos: Michael Bay (noted action director) and Riki Rachtman, (former host of MTV's Headbangers Ball (1987)) as two of the Frat Boys. Bay asks "can we bring the brewskies?".
The bowler's skull ball was a custom ball. After the release of the movie, bowling ball manufacturer Ebonite made a less-detailed version of the skull ball as part of their Super Fun Ball line.
According to the DVD commentary, the scene where The Spleen accidentally ignites a blast of flatulence standing by a barrel with a fire in it was a happy accident. Apparently, a crew member had tossed a plastic lighter in the barrel. It happened to explode (a small explosion, but an explosion none the less) while filming Paul Reubens. The reactions that followed were created after the fact, capitalizing on the moment caught on film.
According to Hank Azaria, the cast argued constantly with each other over the comedic tone of the film.
As the team enters Dr. Heller's amusement park workshop, creepy music is heard. This is not just incidental music, but turns out to be Dr. Heller practicing on a 'waterphone', the strange cylindrical device with steel wires he can briefly be seen holding. The waterphone is primarily used in the motion picture industry in the composition of creepy incidental music.
In an odd parallel, Tom Waits actually creates curious machines from junk and hardware store purchases, in the same way that his character (Dr. Heller) does. Waits' machines are musical, and one is 6-stringed steel dumpster.
When Monica asks Mr. Furious for his name, he calls himself Phoenix Dark - a reference to the classic X-Men story Dark Phoenix Saga, later used as the basis of the film X-Men: The Last Stand (2006).
The sign for the diner is written in Cyrillic - it makes no sense in Russian, but the sounds the letters themselves make is indeed the English word 'diner'.
A subtle reference to William Shatner: once, while recording lines for the video game Star Trek: Judgment Rites (1993), Shatner pronounced "sabotage" strangely and was asked twice to repeat the line. He finally blurted, "Don't tell me how to act - it sickens me!" In Mystery Men (1999), this line is repeated by Ben Stiller. Later, Janeane Garofalo says to Stiller, "You say 'sabotage', I say 'saboTAGE'," another Shatner quote from the Star Trek recording session.
Ricky Jay's character tells Captain Amazing, "I'm a publicist, not a magician." Jay is in fact a well-known magician.
When the Blue Raja (Hank Azaria) sits on the fork he shouts 'Claven' - the catchphrase of Prof. Frink from The Simpsons (1989) whom he voices.
The Not So Goodie Mob is an actual hip hop group, the Goodie Mob.
During one of the Mystery Men group salutes, they say, "Zei gazunt," which is Yiddish, derived from the German, "Sei Gesund" or "Be Healthy" and is often used as a toast.
The Sphinx was a Golden Age hero who was the creation of Better Publishing; his real name was Ellsworth Forrester, and he first appeared in Exciting Comics #2. Had Better Publishing still been in existence at the time this movie came out, the filmmakers could have been sued for plagiarism. As it is, due to the fact that Better went out of business in the 1950s with no successor, the character is now in the public domain.
The name of Janeane Garofalo's character's father, Carmine, is also the name of Garofalo's father.
On Casanova Frankenstein's release papers (which are stamped "CURED"), one entry reveals that the patient is "unpredictable in bed."
In a 2011 interview with A.V. Club, Hank Azaria claimed that during production Kinka Usher declared "I'm going back to commercials when this is done. I've had enough. I'd much rather do my cool little one-minute shorts that I make than deal with all this nonsense."
Dr. A. Heller, when met for the second time, is making bizarre noises with objects, for eerie effect. Tom Waits, (Heller), has used the same noises in his music and poetry.
The comic book character on the door of Kel Mitchell's bedroom is Martha Washington, created by Frank Miller.
The "Herkimer Battle Jitney" is named after Nicholas Herkimer, a Revolutionary War general who died of wounds suffered during the Battle of Oriskany.
The exterior shot of Dr. Heller's man-cave is the same makeshift building used for the fun house in the 1981 horror movie, The Funhouse (1981).
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The three main characters are based on the "Three Old Men" of DC's Justice Society of America. The Shoveler is the original Flash (Jay Garrick), Blue Raja is the original Green Lantern (Alan Scott), and Mr. Furious is Wildcat (Ted Grant).
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The wanna-be heroes auditioning at the pool party include two Power Women, Supervacman, the Reverse Psychologist, Mr. Pups, Waffler (cameo by Dane Cook), Ballerinaman, Mailman, Pencilman (though he introduces himself as Pencilhead, despite the initials on his shirt being PM), Son of Pencilman, Little Miss Vengeance, Squeegeeman (cameo by Dana Gould), Maintainer, The Artiste, Big Billy Hill Billy, PMS Avenger, Radio Man, two Pigs, Martial Artist, Gorilla, Evil Devil Woman, Globalman, Gardener, Bullfighter, Stilt Man, Fisherman, and Thirstyman.
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At one time, Danny DeVito was set to direct as well as star as The Shoveller.
The Blue Raja's car is a Messerschmitt KR200 Kabinenroller, a three-wheeled bubble car designed by the aircraft engineer Fritz Fend and produced in the factory of the German aircraft manufacturer Messerschmitt in the 1950s and early 1960s.
Luis Guzmán played the part of a Mexican restaurant owner but his scenes were deleted from the final print.
The two Wonder Women who fight have black and red hair, eerily paralleling the storyline in the Wonder Woman comics where the black-haired Princess Diana is forced to give up the title (and costume) of Wonder Woman to the red-haired Amazon Artemis.
Casanova Frankenstein's castle is heavily influenced by the works of Spaniard architect Antonio Gaudi, down to details such as railings, capitals on columns, and the alcove in which Spleen and Invisible Boy cower.
Casanova's long fingernails were Claire Forlani's idea.
The two police squad cars seen throughout the film are both 1968 Dodge Chargers with various embellishments.
Casanova Frankenstein's limo is a stretched 1978 Limited Edition Indianapolis 500 Pace Car Chevrolet Corvette.
The station wagon the Shoveler owns is an early American Motors Rebel.
Shoveler's motivational speech in the diner borrows heavily from the Battle of Agincourt speech in William Shakespeare's Henry V.
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In the bar where the team celebrates after the successful run-in with Frankenstein, one camera angle shows an orange neon sign on the wall. It is the Chinese expression "Clothing Shop".
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There is a subtle reference to the old slapstick gag of the watermelon and the Sledge-o-matic when Mr. Furious, during the Sphinx' strange training session, is wearing watermelon on his feet and proceeds to bash them (off screen) with the tack hammer he is supposed to balance on his head.
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The metal fingernail appliances worn by Geoffrey Rush are similar to those worn by renowned British comic writer Alan Moore.
Artie Lange, who has joked about the poor reception of films he's acted in, considers this to be the worst movie he has made. After seeing his brief scene in the beginning of the film, his mother and sister called him from the theater to ask if he would have any more scenes because they wanted to leave.
As Roy is walking Monica home, a store or restaurant sign in the background can be seen reading "Flaming Carrot's" (just to the right of the pet littering sign). This is a reference to the title character of the comic book series.
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Janeane Garofalo had originally turned down the the part of The Bowler, but changed her mind when she heard William H. Macy and Geoffrey Rush had signed on.
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Hank Azaria (The Blue Raja) and Wes Studi (The Sphinx) both previously appeared in Heat (1995).
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According to Janeane Garofalo, the Bowler's bowling ball was about 30 pounds.
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Janeane Garofalo's (The Bowler) real life parents met at a bowling ally.
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Ben Stiller was considered directing, but turned it down when he realized how large a project it would be.
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Prior to the film, Janeane Garofalo had no bowling experience.
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Lena Olin's character Dr. Leek has two lines at the board meeting and does not speak again for the rest of the film.
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Lance Hunt's faux letter from Captain Amazing lists the following groceries: loaf of bread, gallon of milk, apples, oranges, pears, pie crust, cookies, soda, jelly - grape, ketchup, crackers, chips.
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Tom Waits had trouble memorizing his lines during his big monologue so he wrote them on his hands, which explains his odd stance and gestures. Fortunately, Kinka Usher thought this was perfect for his character.
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Shovel fighting was taught to most infantry through the end of World War II. The reasoning was that infantry were often responsible for digging their own foxholes, and their enemies were unlikely to Shovel fighting was taught to most infantry through the end of World War II. The reasoning was that infantry were often responsible for digging their own foxholes, and their enemies were unlikely to honour a call of "Time out!" while they went to fetch their gun or bayonet.
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Eddie Izzard's character makes a reference to "the god of haircare". In his stand-up routine, he mentions that the Romans previously had crappy gods, like Simon, the God of Hairdos.
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Robert Musselman, who plays Ballerinaman reappears later in the film as a Disco Boy.
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Invisible Boy is the only member of the team who has no comic book counterpart. In fact, he was made up as a joke by a drunken Bob Burden. The filmmakers loved the idea, and added him to the script.
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Mystery Men creator Bob Burden believes Universal chose Casanova Frankenstein as the film's antagonist simply because of his name.
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Director Cameo 

Kinka Usher: as Moe. Coincidentally, Moe is the name of one of Hank Azaria's (Blue Rajah) many different characters in The Simpsons (1989).

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

During the city blast of the psycho-fraculator, a billboard of Captain Amazing falls and begins to get distorted just as he himself was by the machine.
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Janeane Garofalo wasn't told that Captain Amazing's charred hand would break off when she touched it, which genuinely freaked her out.
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The Blue Raja says, "May The Forks Be With Us", the same wording, except for forks (force), as Star Wars movies have.
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When the Bowler sends Carmine down the psycho-fraculator shaft, the columns resemble bowling pins, and the ball knocks them out much as it would in bowling.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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