'Thunder Force': Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer on playing unlikely, 'ordinary women' superheroes

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, they are not.

Truth is there isn’t any preexisting comparison for the superhero tandem Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer play in Thunder Force, and that’s immediately what sets the new Netflix action-comedy apart from anything else out there. Genre norms when it comes to age, gender, body type, backstory, they can all be damned.

“There’s certainly a void there,” McCarthy tells Yahoo Entertainment during a recent virtual press day where she was joined by her co-star and longtime best friend Spencer. “I want people to see these two women, ordinary women, that are standing up and fighting for the right thing.”

The versatile 50-year-old actresses play childhood friends who reunite as adults when Spencer’s brilliant scientist accidentally imbues McCarthy’s uncouth everywoman with super-strength. After Spencer also gives herself the power to become invisible, together they become Thunder Force, a super-duo bent on bringing down a group of supervillains tormenting Chicago.

Defying conventions was one thing, but McCarthy and her husband, writer-director Ben Falcone, admit Thunder Force also gave them a long-planned excuse to work with Spencer.

“Selfishly, we literally have just been dying to do something where we’d get to spend enough time with Octavia, and when Ben was like… ‘I think you should be superheroes…’ I was like, ‘Get to writing!,’” McCarthy cracks.

Octavia Spencer and Melissa McCarthy in 'Thunder Force' (Netflix)
Octavia Spencer and Melissa McCarthy in Thunder Force. (Photo: Netflix)

The project also gave McCarthy an opportunity to continue her impressive run of stunt work following other actioners like The Heat (2013), Spy (2015) and Ghostbusters (2016).

“Melissa discovered she loves being on the wires, so she loved all of it. I couldn’t get her off of it,” Falcone says. “For the jumping, the dancing, the explosions hitting her.”

“Melissa works really hard at her stunts. I’m super-amazed at the things she can do,” says co-star Bobby Cannavale, who plays the super-powered Big Bad known as The King. “She can helicopter-kick herself up off the ground. I need help running. I don’t know what to do with my hands when I run.”

The action-ness of it all is definitely new terrain for the Oscar winner Spencer, best known for dramas like The Help and Hidden Figures. “I loved superhero movies growing up, and I can also say that I also wanted to be superhero. So the fact that Ben wrote this character for me was a gift.”

Thunder Force is currently streaming on Netflix.

Watch the trailer:

Video produced by Jon San and edited by John Santo

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