The dominance of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has essentially crowded out the kind of smaller-scale, diverse superhero stories that are more common in comic books. Julia Hart’s Fast Color is exactly the type of story about people with superpowers that a smaller comic-book company might pick up, but it was barely able to make an impression at the box office. Gugu Mbatha-Raw could be auditioning to the play Storm of the X-Men with her layered performance as Ruth, who’s spent much of her life on the run, hiding from government agents out to get her and taking drugs to dull the effects of her unpredictable powers.
Hart builds an affecting multi-generational story from Ruth’s return to her home town, where she reconnects with her mother and the daughter she barely knows. The low budget limits how often the characters can use their powers, but that provides more meaning and emotional impact each time they do. With just a handful of actors and locations, Hart creates an immersive post-apocalyptic world and an enticing mythology with plenty left to explore. It’s not a whole cinematic universe, but it’s quite a start.