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Real-life superhero

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Real-life superhero

Real-life superheroes (RLSH) is a phenomenon of fandom where people inspired by superhero fiction dress up in costumes or masks in order to perform community service such as neighborhood watch or in some cases vigilantism.[1][2][3]

Early examples of this type of behaviour are reported from the 1990s, e.g. with

  1. ^ "Superheroes: Interview with Michael Barnett". Superheroes. HBO Documentaries. 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2011. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ a b "'"Superhero Phoenix Jones: 'I'll keep Seattle safe.  
  4. ^ a b Defender of justice Superbarrio roams Mexico City, CNN. Published July 19, 1997.
  5. ^ "World Superhero Registry" (2006), internet archive link; "Real Life Superhero Project" (2010), internet archive link.
  6. ^ "Defender of justice Superbarrio roams Mexico City".  
  7. ^ a b c Templeton, Anthony (March 4, 2011). "Captain Australia is Queensland's first superhero, and has vowed to clean up the streets of Brisbane".  
  8. ^ Menganno: el “superhéroe” de Lanús Este (Spanish)
  9. ^ "Brisbane's Captain Australia now looking for a sidekick to fight crime". Courier Mail. 2011-03-07. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  10. ^ "Captain Australia". 2011-03-09. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  11. ^ "Real-Life-Stories Caped-Crusaders". Thats Life. 2012-03-04. Retrieved 2012-03-04. 
  12. ^ "Is It A Bird, Is It A plane...". Melbourne City Journal. 2012-05-22. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  13. ^ "Super-homens - Superinteressante". 2010-06-28. Retrieved 2011-10-28. 
  14. ^ Fallon, Daniel. Net crusaders, The Age. Published July 31, 2004.
  15. ^ a b Quan, Douglas (November 26, 2011). "Crusaders among us". Leader-Post. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  16. ^ Dickinson, Kirk (October 21, 2012). "Hometown Hero: Windsor's masked hero". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 23 May 2013.  as well as other local publications, university newspapers, and local Cogeco TV's Comic Book Syndicate and MTV Canada.
  17. ^ Sunny Dhillon (2011-07-14). "Real life superhero takes to Vancouver's streets". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  18. ^ Jordan, Mathew (October 13, 2013). Heroes' jump from fiction to reality"'". The Chronicle. Retrieved 21 December 2013. 
  19. ^ SuperVaclavVidea. "Kazma VS SuperVáclav - První otevřená zpověď o celé akci!". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-11-06. 
  20. ^ "Meet SuperVaclav Czech Masked SuperHero". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-10-28. 
  21. ^ Kartastenpää, Tero. Laserskater – Yön ritari, Image. (Finnish) 12/2010.
  22. ^ Lacote, Pierre (April 2005). "Fight Zone 07". 
  23. ^ "Koikispass Nevers N°74". 2010-12-02. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  24. ^ Reporter (January 2008). "Hier Sind Helden". 
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ Episode 7: "Supereroe a Gomorra", Sugo. (Italian) Published March 4, 2009.
  27. ^ Ciavatta, Stefano. Super Entomo, l'eroe di Napoli e le sue ronde, Il Riformista. (Italian) Published March 15, 2009. Retrieved March 16, 2009.
  28. ^ Entomo, supereroe napoletano, Il Mattino. (Italian) Published March 16, 2009. Retrieved March 16, 2009.
  29. ^ Sicurezza in città: a Napoli invece delle ronde c'è Entomo il supereroe, Panorama. (Italian) Published March 16, 2009. Retrieved March 16, 2009.
  30. ^ "Water for Africa | The Real Life Super Hero Project". 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2011-10-28. 
  31. ^ Skau, Minna (2009-12-31). "Virkelighetens superhelter". 
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ Pollard, Chris (March 3, 2011). "16 superheroes on streets of Britain". The Sun (London). 
  36. ^ [1]
  37. ^ Superhero' takes on clampers"'". BBC News. 2003-09-16. 
  38. ^ "Sutton superhero gatecrashes Kick-Ass film premiere". 2010-04-01. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  39. ^ Attewill, Fred (July 28, 2011). "Caped crusader Roger Hayhurst's antics worry his mum".  
  40. ^ Rogers, Clinton (2011-08-26). Ninja' patrols streets of Yeovil"'". BBC News. 
  41. ^ "Costumed crusaders taking it to the streets - US news - Giving -". MSNBC. 2011-02-14. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  42. ^ "News - Nationwide Phenomenon: Real-Life Superheroes Fighting Crime". 2011-02-16. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  43. ^ "¡A luchar por la justicia!, Articulo Impreso Archivado". Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  44. ^ "Group Dresses As Superheroes To Combat Crime - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |". 2010-12-16. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  45. ^ Merchant, Brian. Climate Change? This Looks Like a Job for Captain Ozone, Environmental Hero. TreeHugger. Published September 28, 2008.
  46. ^ Davis, Kristina (2009-01-17). "Homemade heroes offer low-level law enforcement". 
  47. ^ a b "Cops not fans of real-life superheroes".  
  48. ^ Kowal, Rachel (2009-01-02). "Street Superheroes". 
  49. ^ SiriusXM (2011-10-01). "MrOyster Liam Davenport". 
  50. ^ Mick, Hayley (2009-01-03). "Capeless Crusaders".  
  51. ^ CBS News Atlanta (2009-02-09). "Atlanta's Superhero Helps Homeless". 
  52. ^ Atlanta's Superhero Helps Homeless
  53. ^ Warner, Joel (2009-03-11). "The astounding adventures of the Wall Creeper, Colorado's own superhero". 
  54. ^ flack, eric (2009-04-27). "Cincinnati Superhero Patrols Streets Fighting Crime". 
  55. ^ Krulo, Tea (September 28, 2009). "Everyday Heroes".  
  56. ^ Miller, Mitchell. 'Metro Woman' Enlisted to Help Purple Line, WTOP-FM. Published April 6, 2005.
  57. ^ Look Up in the Sky..., ABC News. Published June 15, 2007.
  58. ^ Robinson, Bryan. Meet the Sex in the City Superhero, ABC News. Published November 5, 2002.
  59. ^ Meet Razorhawk, Fox News. Published December 30, 2008.
  60. ^ "Real-life superheroes on the streets in your neighborhood". 2009-11-18. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  61. ^ Williams, Owen (2010-05-10). "The Real Kick-Ass". 
  62. ^ RoboPanda. "Real Life Kick-Ass Prefers To Be Called The Viper". Retrieved 2011-10-28. 
  63. ^ "Atlanta Deals". Retrieved 2011-10-28. 
  64. ^
  65. ^ "HĂŠroes de carne y hueso | video player | Al Rojo Vivo | Telemundo". 2008-08-23. Retrieved 2011-10-28. 
  66. ^ Nurit ZungerPhotographs by Peter Tangen (2011-08-04). "Seven Real-Life Superheroes: Newsmakers". GQ. Retrieved 2012-08-15. 
  67. ^ James Pitkin (March 5, 2008). "The Adventures of Zetaman". Willamette Week. 
  68. ^ Strickler, Jeff (2013-10-19). "Real-life superheroes fight injustice with flair". 
  69. ^ Lee, Trymaine. Dressed for Halloween? No, to Clean Up Times Sq., The New York Times. Published October 29, 2007. Retrieved January 24, 2009.
  70. ^ [2]
  71. ^ Duecy, Luke (2010-11-25). "A night with Seattle's superheroes | Local & Regional | Seattle News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News". KOMO News. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  72. ^ Schrank, Delphine. Public Service With a Side of Spandex, The Washington Post. Published November 23, 2007.
  73. ^ Masked Heroes Give Gifts To Homeless, Central Florida News 13. Published December 26, 2007.
  74. ^ Superheroes Bring Christmas Cheer To Kids, Central Florida News 13. Published December 26, 2008.
  75. ^ Constant, Paul (May 1, 2008). "SLC Superheroes: The Black Monday Society keeps an eye out for street crime so you don't have to".  
  76. ^ The Black Monday Society, KSTU Fox News. Published April 10, 2008.
  77. ^ "News » Homeless in Seattle: a struggle on the streets". The Jibsheet. 2011-02-14. Retrieved 2011-10-28. 
  78. ^ O'Connel, Chris and Muehlhausen, Nicole (2009-03-25). "Meet real life Twin Cities super heroes". 
  79. ^ Templeton, Anthony (March 4, 2011). "Captain Australia is Queensland's first superhero, and has vowed to clean up the streets of Brisbane".  
  80. ^ Flock, Elizabeth (October 19, 2011). "Real-life superhero movement growing, but not getting warm reception from police". Real Life Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  81. ^ Chowdhry, Affan (November 16, 2011). "Who are these real life superheroes?".  
  82. ^ Carter, R. J. (23 June 2014). "Sex Offenders and Superheroes Feature in TNT Perception Episode". The Trades. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 


See also

While "superheroes" in the strict sense are characters with supernatural powers, superhero fiction depicting vigilantes with no such powers have long been part of the genre, notably with Batman (1939) and Green Arrow (1941). Such characters are known as "costumed crime fighters" or "masked vigilantes", but are often also classed with "superheroes". With the development of the "real-life superhero" community, there have also been more realistic depictions of "masked vigilantes" in fiction, as it were "fictional real-life superheroes".

Fictional depictions

Police response to the actions of real life superheros is typically negative.[79][80] 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".[81] 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".[3] Police have indicated that super heroes who physically involve themselves in preventing crimes are practicing "vigilantism".[47]

Police and RLSH

  • "Superheroes Anonymous", the first annual gathering of real-life superheroes from all over the United States, who cleaned Times Square, helped the homeless, and handed out crime prevention materials.[69]
  • Multiple media outlets have run reports on the "Rain City Superhero Movement," a group of real life super heroes in Seattle. The group includes "Buster Doe," "No Name," "Troop," "Penelope", and "Phoenix Jones (Benjamin Fodor)."[70][71]
  • The Washington Post reported a story about superheroes "Captain Prospect" and "Justice", members of the "Capital City Super Squad" in Washington DC.[72]
  • Central Florida News 13 did a story on "Team Justice", a group of costumed superheroes giving Christmas gifts to the homeless.[73][74]
  • 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".[75] Fox News Salt Lake City ran a story on the team as well.[76]
  • 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.[77]
  • 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.[78]

United States

Real-life superhero groups

  • [45]
  • The San Diego Union-Tribune[46] and United Press International[47] wrote about heroes like "Mr. Xtreme", a security guard who moonlights as a "costumed crime fighter" handing out food and juice in San Diego, California.
  • "Captain Prospect" and "Sparks" were featured on NPR Intern Edition for spring of 2009.[48]
  • "Captain Oyster" aka Liam Davenport was featured on Sirius XM Radio's "The Ron & Fez Show" in October 2011.[49] 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.[50] They discussed their different views and methods on being real-life superheroes.
  • CBS Atlanta reports[51] "Crimson Fist" patrols Atlanta twice a month to help those in need.[52]
  • "Wall Creeper" and "Zen Blade" were featured on Westword, Denver's alternative weekly publication.[53]
  • MSN mentions "Tothian", "Master Legend", "Captain Prospect", "Geist", "Captain Jackson", "Nyx", and "Michael Brinatte", owner of "" in an online article.
  • Cincinnati, Ohio–based NBC affiliate News 5 WLWT reported on[54] "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.[55]
  • 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.[56]
  • 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!.[57]
  • 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".[58]
  • Jack Brinatte, known as "Razorhawk", appeared on Fox News America Newsroom.[59]
  • WITI (TV) interviewed "The Watchman" and showed him on a patrol of the city.[60]
  • Empire Magazine featured "Geist" in a sidebar article, "The Real Kick-Ass".[61]
  • 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".[62]
  • 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.[63][64]
  • Telemundo ran a news piece about "Dragonheart", a bilingual Real-Life Superhero who operates in Miami, Florida.[65]
  • On 8/4/2011 GQ magazine ran an article called "Seven Real Life Superheroes" featuring "Mr. Xtreme, Superhero, Geist, Life, Master Legend, and Insignis"[66]
  • 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.[67]
  • Star Tribune of Minneapolis featured "Geist" and "Razorhawk" in a lifestyle feature article, "Real-life superheroes fight injustice with flair."[68]

Real-life superheroes are notably prevalent in the USA compared to other countries, which may be attributed to the greater popularity of superhero comic books.[41][42][43][44]

United States

  • 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".[35][36]
  • 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.[37]
  • 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.[38]
  • "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.[39]
  • In August 2011, the BBC reported on "Shadow" (real name Ken Andre) who patrols in Yeovil.[40]
  • Robert Welburn - Is a role-model for all Business Engagement teams. Books will be written about how he handles Projects and children will be told stories of his skills

United Kingdom

  • "Väktaren" (roughly translated as "The Watchman") patrols the streets of Malmö, and has been featured in various media. The police disagree about his actions.[32][33][34]


  • 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."[31]


  • [4]
Super Barrio of Mexico City


  • 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.[30]


  • La Repubblica featured "Entomo The Insect-Man", a masked patroller and activist.[25] 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.[26] Following an extensive interview on Il Riformista,[27] Entomo was depicted in major Italian and Spanish newspapers, such as Il Mattino[28] and Panorama.[29]


  • "Captain Ozone", featured in the French edition of Max magazine,[22] and Koikispass magazine,[23] as well as the German edition of FHM magazine.[24]


  • "Dex Laserskater", who has featured in the Finnish magazine Image,[21] has been patrolling the streets of Helsinki since 1997. He has modeled his alter ego after the short lived comicbook hero Skateman. He specializes in guiding tourists, tipping waiters, doormen and street musicians and helping the police


  • "Super Vaclav" is a promotional figure for a Czech webhosting company.[19] 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.[20]

Czech Republic

  • 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.[14]
  • "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.[15]
  • "The Crimson Canuck" of Windsor, Ontario, was also featured in the article by Quan,[15] as well as being interviewed on the radio station AM800 by Arms Bumanlag, and was featured in an article in the Toronto Sun.[16]
  • "Thanatos" of Vancouver, British Columbia is a person who dresses in a costume and distributes goods and goodwill to the homeless.[17]
  • The Katalysts Ontario/ the "Justice Crew of Oshawa" in Oshawa, Ontario is a collection of Durham Region-based individuals who patrol the streets at night, do local litter cleanup, and homeless outreach. Including Aftershock, the founder, Regulus, and the Nameless Crusader.[18]


  • Superinteressante magazine posted an article on The Real Life Superheroes "The Eye", "Entomo", "Terrifica", "Superhero" and "Superbarrio".[13]


  • 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[11] and The Melbourne City Journal.[12] 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 Australia", featured in the mX and then The Courier-Mail[7][9] and on television's A Current Affair[10] 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.[7]


  • "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.[8]


Some examples documented in the news media include:

Real-life superheroes wear masks or otherwise disguise themselves in order to perform deeds ranging from community services to deterring crime.[6][7]



  • Examples 1
    • Argentina 1.1
    • Australia 1.2
    • Brazil 1.3
    • Canada 1.4
    • Czech Republic 1.5
    • Finland 1.6
    • France 1.7
    • Italy 1.8
    • Liberia 1.9
    • Mexico 1.10
    • Norway 1.11
    • Sweden 1.12
    • United Kingdom 1.13
    • United States 1.14
  • Real-life superhero groups 2
    • United States 2.1
  • Police and RLSH 3
  • Fictional depictions 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6

[5] A "real-life superhero community" in the sense of an online subculture began to develop in the mid 2000s.[4]

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