“We are using the iconicism of comic book superheroes to make a difference, inspire others, spread a positive message, and call attention to issues in our communities.” That’s a quote from the website RealLifeSuperheroes.org, which currently has 313 registered members, and is one of many such sites found online.
People who refer to themselves as real-life superheroes (RLSH) are gaining both in number and notoriety, alternately performing truly selfless deeds like feeding and clothing the homeless before getting arrested for bizarre or disruptive behavior. When considering the deeds and motives of these RLSH’s, we can’t help but wonder: are these denizens more crazy good or two sammies and a basket short of a picnic crazy? What do you think?
Mark Wayne Williams/Poteskey Batman
Williams, from northern Michigan, has been arrested twice while in Batman costume. First, when police saw him dangling from the roof of a very large building in full costume in 2011. Then, a few weeks ago, he was arrested for obstructing a police investigation by refusing to leave the scene and messing up the crime dogs’ scent. He is currently on probation, and has been forbidden to wear his Batman—or any other—costume, by a judge. No word on if he has a real-life Robin, but—for serious—he does have a Batgirl out there defending him!
Apocalypse Meow and Zetaman
For those of you who haven’t seen the HBO documentary Superheroes, you must get on that, stat. But those who have might remember this RLSH husband and wife duo. She learned about her husband’s hidden life as a superhero when he showed up randomly in full garb. After asking him not to dress in a cape and tights, he refused, so she decided to adopt her own persona, Apocalypse Meow. Their work, like with many RLSH’s, is largely on the charitable side. They frequently distribute “Zeta Packs” to the homeless, which contain living essentials, and which they pay for out of pocket.
Been arrested? Check. Forced to unmask in court? Check. But Phoenix Jones (aka Ben Fodor) has apparently stopped a carjacking before, according to this news clip. Unmasked, he looks like a young Nick Cannon who got a makeover from the Black Eyed Peas. When dressed as Phoenix Jones, he wears a yellow and black costume, a Kevlar quality vest, and carries both pepper spray and a taser (he was recently arrested for assaulting/spraying four people outside a club). Perhaps the most notorious RLSH, Jones was at premiere of Rainn Wilson’s Super, and seems to relish his growing cult status. And, in another of life’s great twists, he has an apparent quasi-nemesis, a man who calls himself Rex Velvet, “the people’s villain,” who has publicly asked Jones to hang up his mask.
Also featured in HBO’s Superheroes, this 40-something fella is another combo of do good and do... huh?! He calls his truck “Battle Truck,” and he literally yells things like: “Time to head into the shadows!” before going on his neighborhood patrols. When profiled in Rolling Stone in 2008, he blamed a series of failed relationships and his inability to hold down a regular job on his status an a RLSH, saying that his duties as a superhero always seem to take priority over most aspects of his life. Like many self-proclaimed superheroes, Master Legend has also done some good. The RS article noted that he had received a “certificate of commendation from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department” for helping hurricane victims.
Proving RLSH’s aren’t just limited to the United States, The Statesman has been called the Phoenix Jones of England. He wears a British flag long-sleeved tee and a Zorro mask, picks a spot on the map he wants to make sure is safe, and tells his girlfriend he’s going to a poker game before patrolling the city. His civic superhero duties range from giving the homeless food and blankets to helping people too intoxicated to walk cross the street. He has yet to be arrested, but his penchant for breaking up fights could lead to trouble eventually.
What do you think? Are these RLSH’s relatively harmless people with good intentions, or are they over-the-top, perhaps putting themselves and others at unnecessary risk?