Move over, Batman: real-life superheroes are here

Originally posted: http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/article/983219–move-over-batman-real-life-superheroes-are-here

One of many subjects wearing homemade costumes, combating crime in Superheroes.
One of many subjects wearing homemade costumes, combating crime in Superheroes.

By Raju Mudhar
While the big-budget superhero films have to try to balance the fantastic with the real, director Michael Barnett had no such problem with Superheroes.
Screening at Hot Docs on May 2, 4 and 8, the documentary looks at real-life superheroes, who don masks, capes, duct tape and other equipment to patrol the streets and make this world a better place. The film is equal parts hilarious and hopeful — and sometimes sad — and despite the costumes, it takes its subjects very seriously.
“Every single one of them is doing more to make the world a better place than certainly I, and most everyone I know, are,” he says. “I have a deep respect for what they’re doing. Are some of them ineffective? Sure. Are some effective? Absolutely. Are some misguided? Yes. Are some of their lives seemingly tragic? Yes. So it’s hard to generalize for all of them, but I love what they’re doing.”
Whether it’s helping the homeless, raising awareness about crime or even dressing up as “bait” to lure criminals, the likes of Mister Extreme, Master Legend, or the four roommates in Brooklyn who form The New York Initiative are part of the more than 700 documented masked vigilantes around the world who describe themselves as part of the real life superhero movement.
“We shot in pretty much every major city. At the very least, it’s a subculture,” he says. “But I would say it’s a movement because it has this unorganized manifesto behind it.”
Barnett knows that what many of these people are doing is dangerous, and they know it too.
“It is only a matter of time before one of their activities leads to someone getting hurt or possibly worse,” he says. “Some have told me that they’ve received death threats. But the thing is they know that going in. They know the villains are out there, and that’s why they’re doing what they’re doing.”

Tagged with: Batman, Brooklyn, Costume, Crime, master legend, michael barnett, mr. xtreme, Real Life Superheroes, rlsh, Superhero, Superhero film, superheroes, superheroes the movie, the new york initiative