The Pumaman

The Pumaman (L’Uomo puma, in Italian) was an Italian-produced English-language movie about a superhero of the same name, released in 1980. It was mocked in a 1998 episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.


The villainous Dr. Kobras has found a gold Aztec mask with which he plans to control the minds of world leaders. However, he fears the interference of the Pumaman, a "man-god" sired by aliens and the protector of the mask who he believes to be living in nearby London. He has somehow learned that the Pumaman is American, male, and his parents have died in a plane crash. Kobras' henchmen begin to test people matching these criteria by throwing them from high windows, as the Pumaman will be able to survive it.

The Pumaman turns out to be Tony Farms, an American archeologist who is discovered by Vadinho, an Aztec priest who, like Kobras’s men, confirms Pumaman’s status by defenestration. Vadinho gives Tony a magical belt that gives him a superhero's costume and further powers.

The Pumaman's superpowers include:

  • The ability to fly. Tony's flight is described by characters as superhuman leaping like that of a puma, but depicted through special effects as somewhat traditional superhero flight.
  • Seeing in the dark.
  • Sensing imminent danger.
  • Teleporting himself to any location with which he is familiar.
  • Temporarily feigning death.
  • Super strength, and the ability to use his hands like claws to tear through metal and brick.

Pumaman ultimately defeats Kobras by making the helicopter in which he's attempting to flee crash.

Vadinho's belief structure is depicted as based on the assumption that man is powerful and that a group of aliens are god(s), often repeating the phrase "each man is a god, each man is free."


The movie is widely regarded as incoherent and choppy. Several instances of particular note are the climactic fight where Pumaman spends most of the time jumping around while Vadinho punches out wave after wave of Kobras’s henchmen. Also particularly infamous are the flying scenes, which mostly consist of Pumaman madly waving his arms and legs as the obviously rear projected background advances. There is even a scene where Pumaman grabs a Kobra henchman, flies high into the sky and drops him, where the background footage appears at an angle, making the henchman look like he’s falling sideways. Another noted flaw in The Pumaman — and one that Mystery Science Theater used to great effect — is how much work Vadinho has to do, far outstepping his role as a mentor and performing most of the heroics himself as Pumaman dangles from windows, flies foolishly through the air and constantly requires Vadinho’s assistance.

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