The Meteor Man is a 1993 American superhero comedy film written by, directed by, and starring Robert Townsend with supporting roles done by Marla Gibbs, Eddie Griffin, Robert Guillaume, James Earl Jones, Bill Cosby, and Another Bad Creation. The film also featured special appearances by Luther Vandross, Sinbad, Naughty by Nature, Cypress Hill, and Big Daddy Kane. Townsend stars as a mild-mannered schoolteacher, who becomes a superhero after his neighborhood in Washington, D.C. is terrorized by street gangs. Although the film is set in Washington, it was mostly filmed in the Reservoir Hill neighborhood of Baltimore. Robert Townsend named the film's protagonist Jefferson Reed, after one of his childhood heroes, his favorite teacher.
Jefferson Reed (Robert Townsend) is a mild mannered school teacher in Washington D.C. His neighborhood is terrorized by a local gang called The Golden Lords led by Simon Caine (Roy Fegan) and allied with drug lord Anthony Byers (Frank Gorshin). One night, Jeff steps in to rescue a woman from the gang only to end up running from them himself. Hiding in a garbage dumpster, he manages to escape. As he climbs out, he is struck down by a glowing green meteorite. His spine is crushed and he receives severe burns. A small fragment of the meteor was left over and taken by a mute vagrant named Marvin (Bill Cosby). Reed awakens several days later in the hospital, but when his bandages are taken off, he is miraculously healed of all injuries.
Jeff soon discovered that the meteorite had left him with spectacular abilities such as flight, x-ray/laser vision, superhuman strength, speed, and hearing, invulnerability, healing powers, absorb a book's content by touch, super breath, telepathy with dogs (which he uses to communicate with his own dog, Ellington), and telekinesis. Confiding this to his parents Ted (Robert Guillaume) and Maxine (Marla Gibbs), they convince him to use his powers to help the community. His mother designs a costume and as the Meteor Man, he takes on the Golden Lords. He shuts down 15 crack houses, stops 11 robberies, brings peace between the police, the Crips (Cypress Hill), and the Bloods (Naughty by Nature) where they begin to work together to rebuild the community they destroyed, and plants a giant garden in the middle of the ghetto.
The Golden Lords learn Meteor Man's secret identity and his slowly diminishing powers. As the violence gets out of hand and the Golden Lords continue their attacks, the community members plan to make a deal with them, but Jeff instead teaches them about fighting for their beliefs. A now powerless Jeff fights Simon and is beaten up. Simon points his gun at Jeff, but Jeff's neighbor Earnest Moses (James Earl Jones) throws a record at him, successfully knocking the gun out of Simon's hand. Suddenly, the neighborhood fights back and Marvin uses the meteor fragment to strip the Golden Lords of their guns. This enabled the locals to stand up to the Golden Lords as they fight them alongside Marvin's dogs. Marvin accidentally drops the meteor and both Jeff and Simon grab a piece of the rock, gaining superpowers and engage in a brawl. When Simon is about to throw a dumpster at Jeff, he hears Ellington barking telling Jeff that he can win and throws the dumpster at Ellington instead, fatally injuring Ellington. This angers Jeff and he disappears and returns as Meteor Man. They continue with their brawl with Meteor Man winning and draining Simon of his powers by absorbing them. The locals all gather around Ellington who is now lying on the street, whimpering in pain. Jeff uses his x-ray vision to see that Ellington's ribs are broken. Before Jeff can do anything, his powers fade away, again. But just then, Marvin comes over and uses the last of his powers from the meteor fragment to heal Ellington's injuries, thus saving Ellington's life. The locals all applaud.
Later, Anthony Byers confronts Meteor Man, but is outnumbered by the Bloods and the Crips who show up to protect Meteor Man. Anthony Byers and his gang are then arrested by the police after attempting to "take a vacation to the Bahamas".
- "Can't Let Her Get Away" - Michael Jackson
- "It's for You" - Shanice
- "Don't Waste My Time" - Lisa Taylor
- "You Turn Me On" - Hi-Five
- "Who Can"
- "Your Future Is Our Future" - Daryl Coley & Frank McComb
- "I Say a Prayer" - Howard Hewett
- "Is It Just Too Much" - Keith Washington
- "Somebody Cares for You" - Frank McComb
- "Good Love" - Elaine Stepter
- "Ain't Nobody Bad (Like Meteor Man)" - Big Hat Ray Ray
Marvel Comics produced a 6-issue limited series spin-off titled Meteor Man.
Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 29% based on 14 reviews.
Peter Rainer of The Los Angeles Times compares the film to "a fairly clunky sitcom" with its sense of righteous do-goodism, and although the film intends to inspire, it instead sends the message that it would take a superhero to clean up inner-city gang violence. Roger Ebert writes, "The movie contains big laughs and moments of genuine feeling, but it seems to be put together out of assorted inspirations that were never assembled into one coherent story line."
- The Meteor Man at the Internet Movie Database
- The Meteor Man at AllMovie
- The Meteor Man at Superheroes Lives