Real-life superheroes (RLSH) are people who dress up in costumes, help the homeless, and fight crime. They perform services that they believe benefit the community in a variety of ways. Some real-life superheroes hand out supplies to the homeless, while others seek to combat crime through community patrols and neighborhood watch in which suspicious activity is identified and reported to the proper authorities. Some in the RLSH community try to resolve issues on their own, including vigilantism, contravening police wishes.
Some examples documented in the news media include:
- "Captain Australia", featured in the mX and then The Courier-Mail and on television's A Current Affair is based in the Queensland capital Brisbane. He wears a green suit and mask similar to Captain America with an @ symbol on his chest and a Batman styled utility belt. Police have expressed their preference that Captain Australia not intervene in incidents any more.
- Controversial masked activists "The Fauna Fighters" are a Melbourne-based RLSH duo who use a Golden Age of Comic Books superhero motif as method of publicizing animal-rights issues and supporting various animal-rights groups and charities. The Fauna Fighters (Flying Fox and The Thylacine respectively) have been featured in various publications such as That's Life magazine and The Melbourne City Journal. The Duo's open support of "radical" animal rights group Animal Liberation Front gave them a mixed reaction amongst the RLSH "community", but the Fauna Fighters have continued to use the superhero motif to publicize their cause in a movement they deem Art-ivism, a hybrid of performance art and activism. Their activities include clean ups, patrols, protests/petition drives and volunteer work as well as the promotion of vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. They have been active since early 2012.
- "Captain Ozone", featured in the French edition of Max magazine, and Koikispass magazine, as well as the German edition of FHM magazine.
- "Super Vaclav" is a promotional figure for a Czech webhosting company. He purports to combat antisocial behavior of Prague citizens, by pouring buckets of water on individuals smoking near public transport stops. He also assaults dog owners with their own animal's excrement if it is left behind on a lawn.
- La Repubblica featured "Entomo The Insect-Man", a masked patroller and activist. In February 2009, Rai 4 filmed a night-time patrol and interview with Entomo at the abandoned Italsider factory in Naples, aired on the TV program Sugo. Following an extensive interview on Il Riformista, Entomo was depicted in major Italian and Spanish newspapers, such as Il Mattino and Panorama.
- The December 31, 2009 Norwegian publication, Aftenposten featured an article and photos of Real-Life Superheroes. The article included "Life", "Geist", "The Deaths Head Moth", "Dreizehn", "Entomo" and "Superhero."[clarification needed]
- The British tabloid The Sun ran an article on the country's Real-Life Superheroes, including "The Statesman", "Vague", "Swift", "Black Arrow", "Lionheart" and "Terrorvision".
- The BBC reported on "Angle-Grinder Man", a British self-described "wheel-clamp superhero" who claims to use an angle grinder to illegally cut wheel clamps off vehicles which have been clamped in by police and parking officials in Kent and London. Police indicate that they have received no word or complaint of his actions.
- The newspaper This is Local London featured an article on "SOS" (whose real name is Steve Sale), a UK superhero who crashed the premiere of the film Kick-Ass.
- "Knight Warrior" (whose real name is Roger Hayhurst) is a 19 year old who wears a costume and attempts to break up fights in the Salford area. His mother has expressed concern for his safety.
- In August 2011, the BBC reported on "Shadow" (real name Ken Andre) who patrols in Yeovil.
- The Age described "Anujan Panchadcharam the Polarman" of Iqaluit, Nunavut, whose primary interests are shovelling the snow off sidewalks during the day and patrolling the streets for criminals at night.
- "Ark" of Toronto, Ontario was featured in an article for Postmedia News by Douglas Quan, in November 2011, commenting on his reasons and methods on being a Real Life Superhero.
- "The Crimson Canuck" of Windsor, Ontario, was also featured in the article by Quan, as well as being interviewed on the radio station AM800 by Arms Bumanlag, and was featured in an article in the Toronto Sun.
- "Thanatos" of Vancouver, British Columbia is a person who dresses in a costume and distributes goods and goodwill to the homeless.
- CNN covered Mexico City's "Superbarrio", who is a highschool dropout who wears red tights and a red and yellow wrestler's mask. He uses his unique image to organize labour rallies, protest, and file petitions to prevent families from being evicted.
- TreeHugger reported on "Captain Ozone" starring in ecological television PSA’s, making appearances at grade schools and hemp festivals, creating a video documentary on environmentalism, and also organizing a public demonstration for renewable energy.
- The San Diego Union-Tribune and United Press International wrote about heroes like "Mr. Xtreme", a security guard who moonlights as a "costumed crime fighter" handing out food and juice in San Francisco, California.
- "Captain Prospect" and "Sparks" were featured on NPR Intern Edition for spring of 2009.
- "Captain Oyster" aka Liam Davenport was featured on Sirius XM Radio's "The Ron & Fez Show" in October 2011. He described patrolling his Queens neighborhood looking for late-night crimes to solve through "intimidation and intellectual discourse".
- "Thanatos", "Life" and "Phantom Zero" were featured in an article by The Globe and Mail. They discussed their different views and methods on being real-life superheroes.
- CBS Atlanta reports "Crimson Fist" patrols Atlanta twice a month to help those in need.
- "Wall Creeper" and "Zen Blade" were featured on Westword, Denver's alternative weekly publication.
- MSN mentions "Tothian", "Master Legend", Captain Prospect", "Geist", "Captain Jackson", "Nyx", and "Michael Brinatte", owner of "Hero-gear.net" in an online article.
- Cincinnati, Ohio–based NBC affiliate News 5 WLWT reported on "Shadow Hare", a 21 year old from Milford who dresses up like a superhero. This was later rebroadcast on CNN
- "The Watchman" and "Moon Dragon" were featured in the August 2009 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.
- WTOP-FM, a radio station in Washington, D.C., reported on "Metro Woman", a short lived publicity stunt intended to gather support for the Washington purple line metro project.
- ABC's Nightline news program interviewed real-life superheroes "Squeegeeman" and "Captain Xavier Obvious", who patrol New York City. The heroes have also been documented in Radar Magazine, Time Out New York, and HDNet's Deadline!.
- ABC News and NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! radio program interviewed "Terrifica", a New York City-based woman who patrols bars and parties in an effort to prevent inebriated women from being taken advantage of by men. Since the mid-1990s, Terrifica has donned a mask, blonde wig, red boots and cape, because in her words women "need to be protected from themselves".
- Jack Brinatte, known as "Razorhawk", appeared on Fox News America Newsroom.
- WITI (TV) interviewed "The Watchman" and showed him on a patrol of the city.
- Empire Magazine featured "Geist" in a sidebar article, "The Real Kick-Ass".
- NBC News ran a story documenting a 20 year old Columbia, Tennessee, resident being stopped by police for patrolling the streets after midnight in a black and green mask and costume. The man referred to himself as "The Viper", and claimed that he was "just a guy trying to do what was right in tights".
- The Sunday Paper & the Chattanooga Times Free Press ran an article about a husband and wife team, "Crimson Fist" and "Metadata", in Atlanta that help the homeless in their area.
- Telemundo ran a news piece about "Dragonheart", a bilingual Real-Life Superhero who operates in Miami, Florida.
- On 8/4/2011 GQ magazine ran an article called "Seven Real Life Superheroes" featuring "Mr. Xtreme, Superhero, Geist, Life, Master Legend, and Insignis"
- Los Angeles' official superhero is "HERO MAN". The man behind the cape is writer/director David Filmore. A documentary feature film entitled HERO MAN follows Filmore's journey in becoming a real-life superhero. His story was spotlighted by CNBC.
- Portland has a hero named "Zetaman". The man behind the cape is Illya King, "a married man with no kids." His story was detailed by The Willamette Week.
- "Menganno" works at the east side of Lanús. He wears blue clothing, a helmet and a shield similar to Captain America's shield, but with the colors of the Flag of Argentina.
- Superinteressante magazine posted an article on The Real Life Superheroes "The Eye", "Entomo", "Terrifica", "Superhero" and "Superbarrio".
- The only known superhero in Africa is "Lion Heart". Lion Heart has helped saved the lives of many villagers by teaching important but simple things. He has started a grass roots movement in Africa with many people helping out.
Real-life superhero groups
- "Superheroes Anonymous", the first annual gathering of real-life superheroes from all over America, who cleaned Times Square, helped the homeless, and handed out crime prevention materials.
- Multiple media outlets have run reports on the "Rain City Superhero Movement," a group of real life super heroes in Seattle. The group includes "Thorn," "Buster Doe," "Green Reaper," "Gemini," "No Name," "Catastrophe," "Thunder 88," "Troop," "Pitch Black," "Red Dragon," Videographer "Ryan McNamee," "Blue Sparrow," "Penelope", "Phoenix Jones (Benjamin Fodor), the Guardian of Seattle."
- The Washington Post reported a story about superheroes "Captain Prospect" and "Justice", members of the "Capital City Super Squad" in Washington DC.
- Central Florida News 13 did a story on "Team Justice", a group of costumed superheroes giving Christmas gifts to the homeless.
- The Salt Lake City–based newspaper Salt Lake City Weekly reported on the patrols of "The Black Monday Society" and the superhero identities of its team members "Insignis", "Ghost", "Ha!",and "Silver Dragon". Fox News Salt Lake City ran a story on the team as well.
- The Jibsheet ran an article about a group of 10 "Real Life Superheroes" in Seattle trying to help the homeless prevent their belongings from being stolen by gangs.
- KSTP-TV reported on "Razorhawk", "Geist" and the "Great Lakes Hero Guild" while they patrolled Minneapolis. The segment was re-broadcast nationally on ABC Overnight News.
Police and RLSH
Police response to the actions of real life superheros is typically negative. The police "fear for the safety of these 'superheroes' and argue that sometimes they can get in the way of police work and become a liability". Police have expressed concern that RLSH insert themselves into situations without knowing all the facts and indicate that this is "not a smart thing to do". Police have indicated that super heroes who physically involve themselves in preventing crimes are practicing "vigilantism".
In popular culture
Real-life superheros and RLSH culture is featured in episodes of:
- Hill Street Blues (season 2, episodes 25–28: "The World According to Freedom", "Pestolozzi's Revenge", "The Spy Who Came in From Delgado", and "Freedom's Last Stand" (1982))
- Bones (season 1, episode 12 "The Superhero in the Alley" (2006))
- Franklin & Bash (season 2, episode 2 "Viper" (June 2011))
- Castle (season 4, episode 2 "Heroes & Villains" (September 2011))
- NCIS (season 9, episode 15 "Secrets" (2012))
- "Superheroes: Interview with Michael Barnett". Superheroes. HBO Documentaries. 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
- Sweeney, Phil (2011-10-23). "Head to Head: Is vigilante justice acceptable outside of comic books? - Opinion -". Louisiana State University: The Daily Reveille. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
- "Superhero Phoenix Jones: 'I'll keep Seattle safe'". BBC News. 2011-10-14.
- "Defender of justice Superbarrio roams Mexico City". CNN. 1997-07-19. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
- Templeton, Anthony (March 4, 2011). "Captain Australia is Queensland's first superhero, and has vowed to clean up the streets of Brisbane". The Courier-Mail (Brisbane). mX. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
- "Brisbane's Captain Australia now looking for a sidekick to fight crime". Courier Mail. 2011-03-07. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
- "Captain Australia". Aca.ninemsn.com.au. 2011-03-09. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
- "Real-Life-Stories Caped-Crusaders". Thats Life. 2012-03-04. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
- "Is It A Bird, Is It A plane...". Melbourne City Journal. 2012-05-22. Retrieved 2012-05-22.
- Lacote, Pierre (April 2005). "Fight Zone 07".
- "Koikispass Nevers N°74". Issuu.com. 2010-12-02. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
- Reporter (January 2008). "Hier Sind Helden".
- SuperVaclavVidea. "Kazma VS SuperVáclav - První otevřená zpověď o celé akci!". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-11-06.
- "Meet SuperVaclav Czech Masked SuperHero". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-10-28.
- Perilli, Benedetta. Sul web, in lotta contro il crimine sono i supereroi della vita reale, La Repubblica. (Italian) Published December 31, 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2009.
- Episode 7: "Supereroe a Gomorra", Sugo. (Italian) Published March 4, 2009.
- Ciavatta, Stefano. Super Entomo, l'eroe di Napoli e le sue ronde, Il Riformista. (Italian) Published March 15, 2009. Retrieved March 16, 2009.
- Entomo, supereroe napoletano, Il Mattino. (Italian) Published March 16, 2009. Retrieved March 16, 2009.
- Sicurezza in città: a Napoli invece delle ronde c'è Entomo il supereroe, Panorama. (Italian) Published March 16, 2009. Retrieved March 16, 2009.
- Skau, Minna (2009-12-31). "Virkelighetens superhelter".
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- "'Superhero' takes on clampers". BBC News. 2003-09-16.
- "Sutton superhero gatecrashes Kick-Ass film premiere". Thisislocallondon.co.uk. 2010-04-01. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
- Attewill, Fred (July 28, 2011). "Caped crusader Roger Hayhurst's antics worry his mum". metro.co.uk. Retrieved June 14, 2012. Link text)
- Rogers, Clinton (2011-08-26). "'Ninja' patrols streets of Yeovil". BBC News.
- Fallon, Daniel. Net crusaders, The Age. Published July 31, 2004.
- Quan, Douglas (November 26, 2011). "Crusaders among us". Leader-Post. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
- Dickinson, Kirk (October 21, 2012). "Hometown Hero: Windsor's masked hero". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
- Sunny Dhillon (2011-07-14). "Real life superhero takes to Vancouver's streets". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
- Defender of justice Superbarrio roams Mexico City, CNN. Published July 19, 1997.
- "Costumed crusaders taking it to the streets - US news - Giving - msnbc.com". MSNBC. 2011-02-14. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
- "News - Nationwide Phenomenon: Real-Life Superheroes Fighting Crime". InsideEdition.com. 2011-02-16. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
- "Â¡A luchar por la justicia!, Articulo Impreso Archivado". Semana.com. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
- "Group Dresses As Superheroes To Combat Crime - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |". NewsOn6.com. 2010-12-16. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
- Merchant, Brian. Climate Change? This Looks Like a Job for Captain Ozone, Environmental Hero. TreeHugger. Published September 28, 2008.
- Davis, Kristina (2009-01-17). "Homemade heroes offer low-level law enforcement".
- "Cops not fans of real-life superheroes". United Press International. January 18, 2009. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
- Kowal, Rachel (2009-01-02). "Street Superheroes".
- SiriusXM (2011-10-01). "MrOyster Liam Davenport".
- Mick, Hayley (2009-01-03). "Capeless Crusaders". The Globe and Mail (Toronto).
- CBS News Atlanta (2009-02-09). "Atlanta's Superhero Helps Homeless".
- Atlanta's Superhero Helps Homeless[dead link]
- Warner, Joel (2009-03-11). "The astounding adventures of the Wall Creeper, Colorado's own superhero".
- flack, eric (2009-04-27). "Cincinnati Superhero Patrols Streets Fighting Crime".
- Krulo, Tea (September 28, 2009). "Everyday Heroes". Milwaukee Magazine. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
- Miller, Mitchell. 'Metro Woman' Enlisted to Help Purple Line, WTOP-FM. Published April 6, 2005.
- Look Up in the Sky..., ABC News. Published June 15, 2007.
- Robinson, Bryan. Meet the Sex in the City Superhero, ABC News. Published November 5, 2002.
- Meet Razorhawk, Fox News. Published December 30, 2008.
- "Real-life superheroes on the streets in your neighborhood". Fox6now.com. 2009-11-18. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
- Williams, Owen (2010-05-10). "The Real Kick-Ass".
- RoboPanda. "Real Life Kick-Ass Prefers To Be Called The Viper". Gammasquad.uproxx.com. Retrieved 2011-10-28.
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- By Nurit ZungerPhotographs by Peter Tangen (2011-08-04). "Seven Real-Life Superheroes: Newsmakers". GQ. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
- Jane Wells (27 Jun 2012). "Meet Hero Man".
- James Pitkin (March 5, 2008). "The Adventures of Zetaman". Willamette Week.
- Menganno: el “superhéroe” de Lanús Este (Spanish)
- "Super-homens - Superinteressante". Super.abril.com.br. 2010-06-28. Retrieved 2011-10-28.
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- Lee, Trymaine. Dressed for Halloween? No, to Clean Up Times Sq., The New York Times. Published October 29, 2007. Retrieved January 24, 2009.
- Ryan McNamee
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- Schrank, Delphine. Public Service With a Side of Spandex, The Washington Post. Published November 23, 2007.
- Masked Heroes Give Gifts To Homeless, Central Florida News 13. Published December 26, 2007.
- Superheroes Bring Christmas Cheer To Kids, Central Florida News 13. Published December 26, 2008.
- Constant, Paul (May 1, 2008). "SLC Superheroes: The Black Monday Society keeps an eye out for street crime so you don't have to". Salt Lake City Weekly. Archived from the original on May 6, 2008.
- The Black Monday Society, KSTU Fox News. Published April 10, 2008.
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- Templeton, Anthony (March 4, 2011). "Captain Australia is Queensland's first superhero, and has vowed to clean up the streets of Brisbane". The Courier-Mail (Brisbane). mX. Retrieved June 14, 2012. "We would prefer that Captain Australia didn't intervene in incidents"
- Flock, Elizabeth (October 19, 2011). "Real-life superhero movement growing, but not getting warm reception from police". Real Life Superheroes.org. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
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