The Neighbor Review: superheroes and humor in the Spanish Netflix series

The world of superheroes spawned an unprecedented success in cinema and on TV over the last fifteen years, up to climb the heights of the world boxoffice with Avengers: Endgame, which has conquered the first place in the standings, ousting giants such as Avatar e Titanic. In this path there are many productions that have tried to combine comedy and superheroes; just think of the very successful Shazam, with Zachary Levi. From Spain comes to Netflix The neighbour, series based on the Spanish comic of the same name created by Santiago García and Pepo Perez, which aims to blend superheroes and humor. We had already reported our first impressions of Il Vicino; we will see if our full review confirms the expectations.

Guardian of the universe

Javier, Javi to friends, is an eternal teenager, although living alone and having a semblance of work, he prefers to loiter on the sofa, wake up late, go around freely. He even has a girlfriend, Lola, who seems to tolerate Javi’s ineptitude willingly he uses his ability to lie to solve problems that are placed in front of him. During a weekend in the town of Cuenca, Javier declares his love for Lola, but this triggers a series of discussions that will lead the girl to leave him.

Suddenly a meteor arrives from the sky: it is the Guardian of the Universe who chooses – with little wisdom – Javi as his successor. The boy, thanks to some red pills and a costume, also red, acquires the ability to fly, super strength and invulnerability. Back home and self-proclaimed Titan, he will try to be a hero with the help of Josè Ramon, an off-site student who has taken up residence with Julia, Lola’s best friend. Of course, Javi’s attempts will fail. Meanwhile, Lola, a journalist looking for a story to free her from the garbage she is forced to write, chooses to follow the events of Titan.

Laugh at the heroes

Only at first glance The neighbour can be considered a series of superheroes. In truth it is a comedy that follows the adventures and misadventures of a group of millennials with the soul of adolescents and with the responsibilities of adults. The narration is concentrated in a condominium, where practically all the protagonists live, with few external locations. Around them a world of adults made up of opportunists, selfish, idiots and cheaters.

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The superpowers and the problems they create in the life of Javi and especially Josè Ramon are injected into this main approach. The two interact perfectly and make a good comic duo. Physically and temperamentally poles apart, it is precisely this opposition that creates humorous situations. The jokes are brilliant and even when one expires in foul language, through the mouth of Julia, the most eccentric character of the troop, the context is never vulgar, but only enriched with that excessive element that causes a smile.

The story is simple and not at all pretentious; it is not too solid, but it is made up of small passages that, from gag to gag, direct it towards the final goal. Wanting to find a minimum of narrative depth, one can consider that, if Javi tries to be a superhero with lots of powers, Julia, on the other hand, without any special faculty inaugurates the Karma Police, to right the wrongs of the world around her. How to point out that to be a hero you don’t need any superpowers; just be yourself. As proof of this, it would be enough to take a look at the sequences in which Javi tries to be better than he is and which lead to mistakes after mistakes, which only earn him Lola’s hatred and contempt.

With the latter, a relationship is created that recalls that between Superman, Lois Lane and Clark Kent, but on the contrary. If, in the classic characterization of the characters, the popular journalist of the Daily Planet loved Superman and despised the pusillanimity of the child of the Kent house, Lola, on the contrary, he loves Javier, despite everything, and comes to despise Titan. A further subtext is represented by the theme of honesty and truth as carriers of a life without problems. It is no coincidence that the protagonists find themselves in trouble every time they prefer to lie, while they resolve situations when they choose to be bearers of truth.

Overall The neighbour is more comparable to series like How I Met Your Mother The Friends, rather than a Flash oh the Arrow and indeed, perhaps thanks to a not very high budget, there are very few sequences in which Javi wears the costume of Titan and shows off his powers but, for the reasons mentioned above, there is no lack of this action element.


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