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Secret Headquarters is the next generation of Spy Kids, with Owen Wilson as Iron Man

Cover art for Terraforming Mars shows two astronauts on the red planet’s hillside, surrounded by green trees.

An Animal Crossing character stands on Redd’s boat

If you ever doubt the influence and reach of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, just look at the impact it’s had on superhero movies. The MCU made every other studio hungry for its own multimedia, cross-platform “cinematic universe” series, but it’s also heavily influenced the look, feel, and tone of most of the superhero movies and TV in its wake. Just look at the first trailer for Secret Headquarters, Paramount’s upcoming hero film starring Owen Wilson as a tech-based superhero.

According to the trailer, his character was empowered as Earth’s guardian by an alien intelligence, Green Lantern-style. But the iconography, from the glowing blue object in the center of his super-suit’s chest plate to the glowing HUD that surrounds him in his suit when he flies, is pure MCU Iron Man imagery. Even bringing in Michael Peña as comic relief (and maybe a bad guy, unless that brief glimpse of a face-off is a red herring) is a previous MCU move.

Not that Secret Headquarters feels much like an MCU movie in terms of its intended audience or central story. It actually looks much more like Robert Rodriguez’s 2001 movie Spy Kids, where the children of a couple of high-tech international super-spies learn their parents’ secret, then get involved in an international thriller. Spy Kids Energy is rare these days, compared to the era when it was the dominant mode in family-friendly action films. But Secret Headquarters takes it more literally than most, with a plot that sounds like a straight-up hero-era update of Rodriguez’s film.

Catfish filmmakers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman direct and co-wrote the film, starring Wilson as a superhero whose son Charlie accidentally gains access to his secret underground lair (oh hey, a little Batman there) full of super high-tech alien gear. He and his friends are all astonished to learn that his dad is a hero. Paramount’s summary of what comes next is brief and to the point: “When villains attack, they must team up to defend the headquarters and save the world.”

Secret Headquarters debuts August 12 on Paramount Plus.

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