What do Mr. Xtreme, Zimmer and Master Legend have in common? They might sound like comic book characters but these brave souls are real life superheroes (RLSH). Michael Barnett’s SUPERHEROES documents the lives of ordinary citizens across America as they take matters into their own hands and attempt to bring criminals to justice..
Creating a sensation at Slamdance and winning a slot in the first-ever “Slamdance on the Road” theatrical tour, SUPERHEROES was also picked up by HBO for a premiere in August as part the network’s acclaimed “Documentary Films Summer Series.” This awe-inspiring film unmasks the true-life stories behind these costumed avengers as they confront not just drug dealers, muggers and slumlords, but also the most dangerous offender of all – apathy. Their worlds are revealed through in-depth interviews and man-on-the-street film footage of these masked crusaders patrolling the streets in costume, safeguarding their cities from evildoers. RLSH groups such as The New York Initiative and Team Justice, which has non-profit status in Florida, detail their motivation behind their commitment to protect and serve their communities. Zimmer, who is part of The New York Initiative and lives with three other members of the group in Brooklyn, believes most governments are corrupt and the police are unreliable due to the limited number of officers patrolling areas with thousands of people..
Like superheroes in comic books, RLSH wear costumes, carry weapons (lasers, mace, pepper spray), and even in some cases wear a mask to keep their identities secret. Many RLSH physically train and prepare before patrolling the streets. Some make it their duty to kick out drug dealers from the park, capture muggers and protect the more vulnerable from real criminals like the Chula Vista Groper, a sexual predator on the loose for a five-month period in San Diego until he was finally caught by police..
Along with fighting crime, a number of RLSH also play a pivotal role in helping the homeless and disenfranchised. Team Justice holds a yearly Christmas drive in Florida for families in need and, in Portland, Oregon, Zetaman and his wife, Apocalypse Meow, hand out basic toiletries to the homeless..
“It’s not the costume that makes you a superhero, it’s what is in your heart and what you do; that’s what makes you a real life superhero.” – Mr. Xtreme.
Not everyone agrees with the actions of these brave ordinary citizens. Lt. Andra Brown from the San Diego Police Department cautions that RLSH are not trained and don’t have an understanding of the law or clear judgment the way law enforcement professionals do. Psychologist and author Robin S. Rosenberg, (Superhero Origin), explains that some RLSH might have experienced trauma in their lives and therefore have used this as a leverage to do good for others..
The film is presented in the style of a graphic novel and features Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee (Spider-Man) giving his perspective on RLSH. Key art is designed by Peter Tangen, who worked on the Spider-Man and The Dark Knight film posters. Comic-book panel animation is used as transitions between the RLSH and their stories.
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Director: Michael Barnett
Duration: 1hr 26mins
Producer: Theodore James
Rating: Not rated
Release Date: November 15, 2011
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