Supacell on Netflix review: move over Marvel, this is your new superhero obsession

Supacell on Netflix review: move over Marvel, this is your new superhero obsession

Let’s face it: the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had its day. American caped crusaders saving the planet over and over, from their glitzy headquarters in New York? Yawn! No wonder audiences are turning off.

Fortunately we now have Supacell instead. Netflix’s brand-new, six-episode series relocates the action from the US to London – Peckham to be precise – and presents us with a tantalising new proposition: what if a group of black British Londoners received superpowers?

The end result is less MCU and more Top Boy by way of Misfits. Created by Rapman – a producer, musician and now director from Deptford – the series introduces us to Michael (Tosin Cole), who’s living his best life.

He has a nice house, a good job and is just about to propose to his longterm girlfriend Dionne (Adelayo Adedayo) when he suddenly develops the ability to travel back and forwards in time.

It turns out that Dionne’s life is in danger – and whether or not she survives hinges upon his ability to find four other budding superheroes in the next few weeks before she is killed. No pressure. Oh and at the same time there are mysterious evil mercenaries tracking him down.

Thus begins an extremely high-stakes game of hide and seek, as Michael tries desperately to track down the other members of his proto-Avengers gang.

The end result is a bit of a romp. The main characters – Michael, Sabrina (Nadine Mills), Rodney (Calvin Demba), Andre (Eric Kofe-Abrefa) and Tazer (Josh Tedeku) – all have very different lives, and the show takes its time exploring their backgrounds and setting up their superpowers.

Michael (Tosin Cole) and Dionne (Adelayo Adedayo) (Ana Blumenkron/Netflix)
Michael (Tosin Cole) and Dionne (Adelayo Adedayo) (Ana Blumenkron/Netflix)

Tazer, in particular, has a fascinating arc that feels almost ripped out of Top Boy: a gang member, he uses his new powers to wreak bloody havoc on his rivals, which of course has grievous consequences.

And as the only female member of this squad, Sabrina’s storyline – which includes a dramatic love life, a chaotic sister and trying to navigate life as an NHS nurse – feels like a breath of fresh air amid all the testosterone.

A slight issue is that following five people, who hardly interact with each other, makes for a lot of competing storylines, which, while fascinating at times, means that all the setting up can drag.

The result is a peculiar mix of heavy themes – gang violence, microaggressions, violence and racial profiling among them – spliced in with tantalising bits of good old fashioned superhero shenanigans, where the characters put their powers to selfish use.

Ever wanted to see a man rob a cashpoint by punching a hole in a wall? Or using super-speed to deliver drugs faster than anybody else in the biz? This is the show for you.

Does it work? Yes. The whole thing hangs together, thanks to the engaging cast (almost all of them are fresh faces), and the well-executed action sequences.

While I won’t reveal what causes the characters’ special abilities in the first place, it’s a fun idea that gives Supacell some unique superhero lore of its own. When it flies, it soars – but it does take its time getting there.

Supacell airs on Netflix from June 27