Will ‘Super’ Break ‘The Office’ Ensemble Curse?

This weekend’s dark comedy “Super” appears to have all the makings of a surprise hit. It looks like an indie “Kick-Ass,” which was a huge hit, and while Hit-girl is awesome, a 40-something crime-fighting dude with a huge wrench is way more believable. The movie is funny, extremely violent and features Ellen Page and Kevin Bacon, who are no strangers to cult followings. However, and that’s a big however, there’s one huge thing holding back the potential success of “Super” and that’s the fact it stars an “Office” cast member, Rainn Wilson.

“The Office” has the funniest cast of characters on television right now. “30 Rock,” “Modern Family,” “Community,” “Parks & Recreation and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” may come close, but the large crew at Dunder Mifflin is more diverse, interesting and skilled at working together as a well-oiled comedic machine. Any one of them, from Dwight to Creed, Kelly to Meredith, is capable of delivering a hilarious and memorable one-liner at any moment. No other show has a team that size and that strong.

The problem with being a part of such a great ensemble is when one of them tries to strike out on their own. Steve Carell became a legitimate movie star with “40-Year-Old Virgin,” which came out before “The Office” was a breakout success. The show became a true hit in its second season, casting the “ensemble curse” on the other actors and ensuring that any move starring an “Office” cast member will bomb at the box office. “The Hangover,” “Hot Tub Time Machine” “I Love You, Man” and “Inglorious Basterds” were all successes, but Ed Helms (Andy), Craig Robinson (Darrell), Rashida Jones (Karen) and BJ Novak (Ryan) were part of the film’s ensemble, not starring in leading roles.

“Away We Go” starring John Krasinski (Jim), “The Rocker” starring Wilson (Dwight) and “Cedar Rapids” starring Helms all failed to do much. Even if the reviews are positive, audiences just do not respond. Movies such as “Leatherheads,” “Hall Pass” and “No Strings Attached” fell victim to the curse despite only having “Office” actors in supporting roles. Even established, Oscar-winning actresses Kathy Bates and Amy Ryan haven’t done much in cinema since becoming recurring guest stars. Plus, “40-Year-Old Virgin” is Carell’s high point thus far. As Michael Scott has grown strong, his other characters have been “Bruce (Un)Mighty.”

If history proves anything, Steve Carell leaving “The Office” after this season will increase his blockbuster potential. George Clooney, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Kevin James and Jennifer Aniston only became legitimate A-list film stars after they left their TV shows. “The Office” will continue without Carell, but the actors shouldn’t wait too long to jump ship. That is, if they want to carry a popular film by themselves without an ensemble.