Today, we meet the Running Man Avengers. Every superhero has an origin story, and it’s no different in varietyland. Yet with so many superpowers to keep track of, it’s hard to differentiate who are the superheroes and who are the super-enemies in this universe. Will the heroes join forces to pool their superpowers or will they abuse them to achieve their own goals?
EPISODE 150. Broadcast on June 16, 2013.
It’s another ordinary day in varietyland which is about to turn extraordinary when Jae-suk is met with an unexpected surprise: Dong Fury (aka Maknae FD) whose blackface cosplay reminds me that Korea still has much to learn about its offensive displays of stereotypes.
They’re soon joined by Jong-kook, and the servicemen bicker as usual. But there’s no time to lose as the world is in need of their superpowers. Thus, it’s their job as team captains to assemble their teams.
We check in with our other superheroes who lie in wait, leading normal, everyday lives. Vet Kwang-soo rushes to rescue a giraffe, Rocker Ji-hyo leads her band in song, while Chemist Suk-jin hurries to find the cure for his peculiar condition.
Time is of the essence and the team captains rush to pick up their teammates. It takes some time to drive to Haha’s far-off location whereas Jae-suk already as Kwang-soo and Gary in tow when they call Ji-hyo.
She smiles when she hears that Gary’s been yelling for her, and when she’s momentarily silent, Kwang-soo asks, “Are you about to confess [your feelings]?” Gary: “Be careful! You’re on speakerphone!” Puhahaha.
Jae-suk has three teammates versus Jong-kook’s one by the time they race to Ji-hyo’s location. It’s Jae-suk’s team who arrives first to see her rock out to—what else?—a LeeSsang song. Gary takes the mic and we get an impromptu Monday Couple mini-concert.
Their elated mood quickly deflates with one threatening text: a picture of Jong-kook’s bulging bicep. Gulp.
Fear and panic settle on their faces when they run into Spartakooks outside who cheerily calls out “The [car] door’s open!” Jae-suk’s teammates are reluctant to climb back into the car, but do so anyway… except for the Monday Couple, who dashes towards Jong-kook’s car.
Ha, Jae-suk has to coax the Easy Brothers to stay when they try to follow. He does, however, remark on the noticeably changed mood: “It feels like a cold winter breeze!”
In the other car, Haha guesses that he’s Iron Man because he was given his own arc reactor earlier. To this, the others wonder what superhero they will become today.
Both teams arrives at the mountainside where Dong Fury is already waiting for them. Kwang-soo guffaws in shock at Maknae FD’s bald appearance (“I thought you were Gil [the other half of LeeSsang]!”), and Haha remarks on his leather trenchcoat: “Aren’t you hot in that?” Pfft.
However, Dong Fury remains in character as he explains that the superheroes aren’t Avengers just yet; they’ll have to earn their stripes to become a member. So it’s a survival defend-the-flag paintball match, pure and simple, and the losing team will have to go through remedial training.
Jong-kook’s team starts off as the offense as they carefully get into position. Kwang-soo fires the first shot, but he quickly raises his hand in defeat when Ji-hyo threatens to shoot. Ha. To everyone’s surprise, his next shot eliminates Gary.
Leave it to Jong-kook to be on the move as he swiftly climbs up the hill, and then Kwang-soo yells as he runs across the battlefield, getting hit by paintball bullets along the way. Ow, that oughta hurt.
Ji-hyo stays behind as the boys slowly but surely make their way upwards, pressuring their opponents. After a few more shots, Jong-kook loses both of his teammates, and to make matters worse, he’s out of bullets.
Jae-suk’s team takes full advantage of the situation and fires madly at Jong-kook until he too is eliminated.
Elsewhere at the airport, two mysterious young lads arrive and receive their mission.
Meanwhile, the superheroes-in-training arrive at the action school where a group of stuntmen (and stuntwoman!) puts on an impressive performance. Here, Jong-kook’s team will be put through additional training in order to receive their memberships.
Their first game (Killer Dodgeball) ends up with Gary clutching his family jewels in the first few seconds. The other boys do a pretty good job to evade oncoming attacks as the timer ticks down until they too are eliminated. Aww, and Ji-hyo gets hit with just five seconds remaining on the clock.
Jae-suk’s team puts on a classic act of bravado which quickly dissipates when the clock starts, and they frantically try to hide behind each other. Suk-jin makes an impressive save, only to be tagged out seconds later. Then we see a glimpse of another arrival…
I’m not the only one who’s getting Secret Gardenflashbacks with the second training course, right? The teams are tasked to beat the stuntman’s 71(!) sit-ups in a minute in a relay. Jong-kook’s team puts their backs into it (and Haha’s hair flails back-and-forth, ha), but even with Jong-kook’s last spurt, they’re just two short.
Then it’s up to Jae-suk’s team to show us how it’s done, but Jong-kook’s team can only gape at their strained faces: “You’re so ugly up close!” Ha, then Suk-jin has to hit his own head in order to pull himself up. I’m not sure if I feel safe knowing these guys are out there to protect me.
Thankfully, Jong-kook’s team pulls through on their next turn and receive their superhero memberships. Jae-suk: “Weren’t you planning on giving them to us anyway?”
We’ve arrived at the final mission location where the superheroes finally learn of their alter-egos and superpowers:
- Jae-suk: Captain Running Man (Captain RM) whose water-gun/shield can enlarge opponents’ nametags.
- Kwang-soo: Giraffe Eye whose arrows can bring misfortune to his opponents.
- Suk-jin: Dr. Ji who can transform into the Hulk when angry.
- Jong-kook: Kook Thor whose hammer can obstruct his opponents’ vision.
- Haha: Iron Ha who has all of Iron Man’s capabilities to fly, fire weapons, and high-tech gadgets.
- Ji-hyo: Black Mung who can steal other superheroes’ powers once they’re eliminated.
- Gary: Spider Gary who can shoot webs and has another mysterious power.
Whew. Let’s see if we can keep them all straight.
I love how everyone bursts out laughing at Captain RM’s outfit and I don’t blame them—the man has a bunch of R stickers on his person. Kwang-soo: “Are you Pororo?” Like the famous cartoon character penguin?
It hadn’t occurred to me that Dr. Ji’s transformation might take some time as he starts running in place to raise his heart rate. And then Iron Ha slips into his lair to pick up some essential gadgets.
Black Mung’s ability comes with another stipulation: She’ll need to mark her targets in order to gain their powers later on. So she distracts Dr. Ji with compliments to keep his anger at bay, and to leave her mark. Hilariously, he responds to her atypical aegyo behavior with “Just act like you normally do!”
She then wraps her arm around Spider Gary, who turns to her: “What’s the meaning of this?” Ack, it’s been so long since we’ve heard that line!
Just then, a sound blares through the speakers to announce the arrival of our mysterious guests: the 2PM Twins (Taecyeon and Chansung) where one is invincible and the other is not.
But that’s not all—another familiar musical introduction rings through the speakers. Their suspicions are confirmed with Chu Sung-hoon aka The Fighter‘s entrance. He has three chances to spar with an opponent in the ring. Huh, so are our guests the superheroes or the super-enemies?
The Avengers quickly relay the Fighter’s arrival to each other and Captain RM gripes: “Why does he always come at 4 AM?” For now, it’s imperative that they stick together.
Then it cracks me up when they all peer over the railing to get a look at the Fighter, who cheerily calls back, “I’m here to bother Jong-kook!”
There’s yet another musical introduction and everyone’s confused faces express my thoughts exactly—who ELSE is here? Don’t we already have enough superpowers flyin’ around here?
Meet martial arts director Jung Doo-hong (Fighter in the Wind, Berlin) aka Master Jung who knows everyone else’s superpower. That’s everyone, right?
It’s only now that the Avengers have noticed the Black Mung’s marks, and their ensuing argument echoes through the mall. Down below, Master Jung comments: “Sounds like a fight broke out.” Will this group form an alliance or turn on each other?
Everyone’s suspicion radars are now at high alert. Captain RM is the first to use his superpower on his own, and Giraffe Eye’s nametag is swapped out for a larger one. Then Kook Thor suffers the same fate.
With knowledge at his disposal, Master Jung throws an offhand remark that Giraffe Eye was hit with water. But he’s sharp enough not to disclose his own ability to the others.
Meanwhile, the 2PM Twins roam the mall, and Chansung mentions that the cast’s motto is to betray each other. Ha, that’s so true. That must mean they’re running around by themselves and they zero in on unsuspecting Spider Gary.
Spider Gary’s “web” misses but the other Avengers have heard the commotion. They’re too late to come to his aid and the twins eliminate him. It’s only when they leave that we see Spider Gary’s hidden ability… and his still-attached nametag drags behind him.
The twins approach Iron Ha, who finally shows off his ability to fly. It’s a neat trick but why do I get the feeling that Haha will be at the mercy of his attached wires today?
Then Spider Gary’s reappearance throws them for a loop. I love their “Didn’t we eliminate him five minutes ago?” faces. They’re also adorably gullible to the Look! Over there! trick.
But Spider Gary isn’t out of the woods yet as the Fighter gives chase… and then calls for a fight.
Next thing we know, Spider Gary and the Fighter face off in the ring. But they circle around each other for so long that the one-minute limit passes and Spider Gary is sent off scot-free.
It’s definitely not a superpower you can hide, so Sung-hoon’s attempts to downplay it that it’s nothing are pointless. But the combination of a wasted opportunity and with Jong-kook nowhere in sight nag at Sung-hoon’s growing annoyance.
Speaking of whom, Kook Thor is hidden somewhere in the mall at a loss with his super-sized nametag.
Dr. Ji persistently tries to raise his heart rate, and even asks for Giraffe Eye’s help to stir his temper. But the unlucky arrows work against him and Dr. Ji is led to a relaxation room. Hahaha.
He tries once more by doing various exercises, and this time it works. The beast inside him awakens… and the Hulk is ANOTHER guest? I thought we were done with all the Act 3 guest intros!
The Hulk aka Kim Dong-hyun, a UFC fighter, emerges on the scene. Everyone makes a run for it, including the Fighter, who recognizes his hoobae.
Now that is one serious superpower. At least the newest addition remains in character as he clambers up the escalator. The Hulk grabs a tight hold on Spider Gary, who panics to whip out his web… which comes out all tangled.
They tussle for a few more seconds until the Hulk pounces, rips off his nametag, and disconnects it from the cord. Now Gary’s eliminated.
The Fighter’s surprise appearance catches Captain RM off-guard, and he even drops his water-gun. Oh no! The Fighter calls for a match but once they’re in the ring, he’s confused by Jae-suk’s taunts.
They’re joined by a few other heroes and Iron Ha temporarily fends everyone off with his glove that shoots sparks. The minute quickly passes, and the Fighter chases the 2PM twins down the hall.
Iron Ha tries to evade his captors by flying to the second floor… where the Fighter is waiting for him. He cries: “Bring me down! Bring me down!” But with both floors occupied by super-enemies, he’s left floating in the air. Hahaha.
He touches ground a little later and the 2PM Twins attack once he’s out of sparks. Aw, he’s easily eliminated.
Meanwhile, Kook Thor remains in his thunder pit as the Fighter and Captain RM cautiously approach. But before he can call upon the heavens, the Fighter jumps and eliminates him. Afterward, Jong-kook complains that he won’t have any airtime this week. But maybe you should give that injured leg a rest!
Dr. Ji works hard to transform into the Hulk once more, but the Fighter appears to eliminate him before he gets the chance.
Only three Avengers remain to battle their enemies, and Captain RM confiscates Giraffe Eye’s last arrow so that he doesn’t waste it. As they bicker, the super-enemies are busy ganging up on each other.
Even though Taecyeon’s nametag is ripped off, he’s still the game. Ah, so Chansung is the weak link.
Two of the Avengers are chased by the Fighter, and their alliance is quickly dissolved as Giraffe Eye is eliminated. Then Sung-hoon stops to say that he could have sworn he just saw the Hulk pass by, to which Jae-suk is like Who??
Once it registers that the Hulk is indeed the UFC fighter, Jae-suk turns onto the staff: “Are you kidding me right now?!” Oh god, THANK YOU for saying it.
But at the mention of his name, the Hulk comes charging through, and they make a run for it. Pfft, I love that he stops long enough to explain who is behind his transformation: “It was Ji-hyo!”
The Hulk is reluctant to turn his back on his sunbae to pick on smaller fry. The possibility of the transformation flies over Captain RM’s head, and he solicits Taecyeon’s help. But the Hulk makes a run for it, leaving Jae-suk to face two enemies on his own.
Jae-suk does a fairly good job against them, but he quickly grows tired and breathes heavily, “Why can’t you be eliminated [Taecyeon]?”
That’s because the other 2PM Twin is currently running from the Hulk. Chansung desperately calls out to his hyung, and the Hulk in turn yells, “I’m just fine!”
Both sides struggle against their opponents and at the end of it, both Captain RM and Chansung are eliminated.
Now only Black Mung remains and her two enemies make sure to stay close so she can’t transform into the Hulk. Sung-hoon hints at her to let the men duel it out, and she agrees on the condition that neither man doesn’t get upset should she eliminate them.
Ji-hyo knows her limits but she’s not going down without a fight, so she asks to face Sung-hoon as long as he keeps one hand behind his back. He agrees to her terms and they face off.
Sung-hoon grabs her nametag just as Ji-hyo pulls her towards him to grab his… and they both let go.
Then Sung-hoon grabs hold of her nametag once more, but he’s surprised when it won’t come off as easily as he hoped. But Ji-hyo persistently tries to reach across his back… until her nametag rips off. Dayum, give this girl a medal.
Now the Fighter calls upon his superpower for the last time to face Master Jung in the ring. Master Jung is lightning quick to reach across Sung-hoon’s back, but misses. They engage in another struggle, and Sung-hoon gains the upper hand… and finishes it for the win.
But wait—we’re transported to a secret room where Giraffe Eye sits with Dong Fury, who is displeased at the Avengers’ lack of teamwork and poor performance. He deems every Avenger (apart from Ji-hyo) unsuitable for the field.
Then he mysteriously adds, “There’s no time. There’s a war approaching…” and leaves a flabbergasted Giraffe Eye in his wake. This story is to be continued…