Superheroes (2011)

Superheroes (2011) – Last year there was a movie (based on a comic book) called Kick-Ass, about an ordinary teenager without any special powers who decides to become a superhero. The movie started fairly “realistically” (he gets beat up, suffers some nerve damage, manages to beat some criminals up, becomes a YouTube celebrity) before venturing into more fantasy territory (he foils a major mob boss). The question he asks early on the in the movie is “how come everybody wants to be Paris Hilton but no one wants to be Spider-Man?” While I’m not sure who really wants to be Paris Hilton (though her money would be nice), as it turns out there are many out there for whom the Spider-Man dream is alive and well.

HBO’s Superheroes is a documentary about real people who put on costumes with the goal of fighting crime. Some of these people, as you might imagine, are delusional. Some of them are actually kind of badass (particularly a parkour-and-martial-arts-trained team in New York). Some of them have some serious BALLS (like one guy who videotapes drug dealers and then asks them to leave before he calls the cops). These are people who basically have read comic books or seen movies and though “that’s a good idea.” Some of them have been touched by crime. Others think it’s just the right thing to do.

The thing that impressed me if what they actually do to help their communities. Some of them do the traditional superhero thing and go out on patrol looking for criminals. The more impressive ones were the ones who worked on helping people. The team in New York, while on patrol for would-be rapists, come across a drunk driver who they help get home safe. Several other superheroes formed their own mini-Justice League that is involved with a variety of charitable organizations. One of the best scenes in the movie is in San Diego, a couple blocks down from the Convention Center during Comic-Con. While people from all around are going dressed in superhero costumes to attend panels about comics and movies, some “real” heroes are a few blocks away giving food to the homeless. Superheroes is a good documentary that challenges your preconceived notions on people who operate outside what most of us would call normal behavior.

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