Defendor is a 2009 Canadian-American superhero comedy-drama film written and directed by Peter Stebbings in his directorial debut. It stars Woody Harrelson as Arthur Poppington, a regular man who adopts a superhero persona named Defendor, with Elias Koteas, Michael Kelly, Sandra Oh and Kat Dennings in supporting roles.
Dr. Park Sandra Oh, a psychiatrist, is interviewing Arthur Poppington Woody Harrelson, a vigilante known as "Defendor", who tells about assaulting a police officer who claims to be working undercover. Dooney Elias Koteas is a corrupt detective who Defendor believes is in the employ of his nemesis, "Captain Industry," who Arthur blames for his mother leaving him as a child, dying of drug abuse later; his grandfather ended up raising him, teaching him how to read through comics.
Arthur is arrested for assaulting Dooney, but Fairbanks Clark Johnson, the police captain in charge, connects with Arthur because their grandfathers both served in World War I. After Arthur is released, he takes his trench club and disappears. Arthur is living in the government construction depot where he works during the day. His life is very solitary, but after another confrontation with Dooney, he meets Angel Kat Dennings, a prostitute who was smoking crack with Dooney. After he is brutally beaten by Dooneys friends, she helps him recover. She also informs him of Captain Industrys whereabouts and that his real name is Radovan Kristic A. C. Peterson. He lets her move in with him, and enlists her help in apprehending Kristic. Angel reveals her real name is Katerina Debrofkowitz.
Arthurs boss and close friend Paul Michael Kelly becomes concerned for Arthur after he finds that Arthur is living at the construction depot with Kat. Paul tries to help, offering Arthur the opportunity to come and live with him, which Arthur rejects. Paul gives Arthur a cell phone to use in case he is ever needed. That night, Arthur ventures out to spy on "Captain Industry" and Dooney, but he reveals himself. After a short chase, Arthur is beaten and shot. Paul gets Kat to take him to Arthur, and they call paramedics. While Arthur is in surgery, Paul tells Kat to leave Arthur alone. They are relieved when they find out that Arthur was shot with training bullets. Kat visits an unconscious Arthur and reveals that she ran away from home because her father was physically abusing her. After she leaves, Arthur opens his eyes, having heard everything. Angered at how Kat was treated, Arthur walks down to the mall and beats up Mr. Debrofkowitz.
After Park absorbs all this, she admits his honesty is admirable. At the hearing, Arthur is defended by Paul, who explains Arthur is mentally underdeveloped and its best not to be too harsh. The judge agrees on the condition Arthur doesnt become Defendor again. A reporter approaches Paul and convinces him to let her run a story about Arthur as Defendor, and he agrees. People are inspired by Defendors attempts to save lives and fight crime.
Depressed about having to leave Arthur, Kat becomes desperate for a fix and tries reuniting with Dooney. However, knowing of her friendship with Defendor, he takes her hostage and threatens Arthur to staying quiet; however, he doesnt know Arthur thought this meant EVER speaking. Arthur decides to save Kat and once again becomes Defendor. Kat manages to escape from Dooney and the pair reunites. Kat is devastated when Arthur reveals he still plans to go after Kristic, and she tells him Captain Industry isnt real; she only wanted revenge on Kristic. A flashback Arthurs grandfather, in order to spare him pain as a child, metaphorically blamed his mothers death on the "captains of industry"; due to his disability Arthur has been chasing a delusion his entire life.
Defendor manages to subdue the henchmen, but is shot repeatedly by Kristic. Arthur accuses him of killing his mother, and Kristic recognizes her name, implying he truly was responsible for her death. As Arthur lies dying, Kat runs to help him. She promises to stop smoking crack and get a job. In an earlier conversation, Kat had revealed she had always had a talent in writing, which Arthur had described as being "like Lois Lane". She promises to be like her as Arthur dies in her arms.
Dooney and Kristic are arrested. Dooney is sentenced to 26 years in prison and Kristic is extradited to his home country. A memorial service is held for Defendor under a spray paint mural that was drawn in his honor, which is attended by Park and her daughter. The film ends with Kat sitting at her typewriter, writing stories about Arthur for a newspaper.
Defendor is actor Peter Stebbings first produced screenplay and his debut as a director. He wrote the first draft of his Defendor script in 2005 when the idea came to him "in one whole piece". He failed to sell the script to numerous major Hollywood studios because it did not fit into a particular genre; he said that over stones to find the rest". After he added all of his personal savings, the film was still $100.000 under its financial requirements. Though principal photography was scheduled to take place from November 21 through December 17, 2008, it was delayed until mid-January 2009 and continued through the end of January. Filming took place in and around Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario. Specific filming locations included the Hamilton City Centre, Humber River Regional Hospital and a Toronto warehouse.
The producers consulted with workers from Torontos social services and prostitute and decriminalization of sex workers activist Wendy Babcock, to help Kat Dennings develop her character; they wanted people with experience using crack cocaine and doing sex work so she could create a more realistic character.
Defendor had its world premiere at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival in September. Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group acquired the distribution rights to the film in the United States and most of Asia, Europe and South America. The Canadian rights were pre-sold to Alliance Films as part of the films financing deals.
However, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group decided to not release the film in the United States theatrically, so Darius Films which produced the film self-released the film in the United States theatrically on February 26, 2010.
Defendor received mixed reviews. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 68% rating based on 19 reviews, with an average score of 6.2/10 – many praising Woody Harrelsons performance as the driving force of the film.
Linda Barnard of the Toronto Star wrote writer/director Stebbings "fills Defendor with humorous bits, comic treats dropped in quickly and without fanfare", while David Germain of the Associated Press faults the film for its "inconsistent tone".
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