Defendor is the secret identity of one Arthur Poppington (Woody Harrelson) - a man who has mental limitations which give him a childlike sense of wonder... and a strong sense of right and wrong, but not necessarily a good grasp on laws and legal process. Poppington creates his superheroic persona to escape the limitations of who he is and to help other people, using black face paint to paint on a Zorro-like mask and dressing all in black with a crudely duct-taped "D" on his chest so you know who you're dealing with. While having a childish mind, he seems to have a knack for superheroism, from the use of his grandfather's trench club (from World War I), to equipping his helmet with a video camera setup, to an interesting and effective use of simple things, such as marbles, wasps and nutcrackers to incapacitate and extract information. Harrelson gives an excellent and believable performance as Defendor, truly stealing the show.
Paul Carter (Michael Kelly) is a construction foreman for the city and he does his best to watch out for Arthur, hiring him on his crew and making sure he's taking care of himself. It seems that sometimes Arthur tends to get bruised up, inexplicably. Unbeknown to Carter, however, Arthur has gotten into some fights and got himself kicked out of the shelter he was living in, and has taken up residence in a city construction workshop, transforming it in to his "secret lair." It seems a little permanent marker can go a long way, as he labels the door to the workshop the "Defendoor," in a very Batman-esque way.
One of the good citizens that Defendor rescues, an underage runaway/druggie/prostitute (Kat Dennings) witnesses him being beaten up badly in a confrontation that doesn't go so well and she takes him "home" to his secret lair. She needs a place to stay, so she crashes at his fortress of solitude for a while, nursing him back to health, giving the place a little bit of a woman's touch and, eventually - and unwittingly - falling for him. She also plays a very pivotal part in the movie; she tells him that Kristic (Alan C. Peterson), a Russian crime kingpin in the city, is Captain Industry, leading Defendor to direct his vengeance in his direction. In the meantime, Defendor's path keeps crossing that of a too-deep undercover policeman, Chuck Dooney (Elias Koteas), which gets to be something of a running gag. I found myself anxious to see how Defendor was going to ruin Dooney's day the next time. Chuck Dooney is a truly despicable creature, rough around every edge, and slimy enough to keep one foot on either side of the fence. Scarily, Elias does a good job of portraying him.
Most of the show takes place as it's being retold by Arthur to a court appointed psychologist, Dr. Ellen Park (Sandra Oh), as she attempts to determine why Arthur assaulted a man and threw him in a garbage can in a mall and whether Arthur can tell right from wrong, whether he is of sound mind and if he is dangerous to himself or others. Through her discussions with him (and the scenes that these discussions fade into), we learn that Arthur understands right and wrong, but he doesn't understand why the legal system takes so long to go about its work.
Defendor is not your typical superhero movie, nor does it have your typical happy ending. This movie is part comedy, part action, part drama and takes a hard look at what it means to be a "good" person by populating the cast with characters which are far from the ideal. Your "good" guys include a construction worker who swears constantly, a drug-using prostitute and a mentally challenged superhero. The bad guy? He's the guy with the badge, giving drugs to the underage prostitute. In the end, the city comes together to show their support and appreciation of Defendor. As I said, it's not your typical superhero flick, and it's not your usual happy-go-lucky ending, but it is a good movie and, if you don't require smiles and sunshine at the end of all of your movies, I would recommend purchasing it based on Harrelson's performance alone.