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  • TBC
  • Documentary
  • 2011




A group of real people throughout America don superhero costumes in the hope of fighting crime and doing good. This HBO documentary from director Mike Barnett aims to tell their story.


Superheroes are real. Sort of. In the shadows and after dark, regular American citizens are standing up to fight crime and defend the innocent. And they do so in full superhero regalia; masks, costumes, custom-made insignia, utility belts and wacky homemade inventions. Mike Barnetts documentary is a colourful portrait of this group of well-intentioned people whose vaguely fetishistic outfits belie brave  if bizarre  intentions.

Focusing on a select group of individuals (with allusions to an underbelly of similarly-minded folk) the film sways from impartial documentary to loving tribute, with several comic-strip animated sequences and epic orchestration to boot.

Mr Xtreme, of San Diego, helps the citys homeless throngs while hunting a serial sexual predator. He stands in stark contrast to the eccentric Master Legend, notable for his alcoholism and lecherous escapades. Most engaging are Zimmer (an openly gay vigilante) and The New York Initiative who patrol the Big Apple looking to protect civilians but also to (controversially) bait criminals into committing crimes.

The heroes are given ample opportunity to offer their own thoughts but, to keep a fair balance, interviews are included with a psychiatrist and police chief who offer insight into their antics. What the psychiatrist views as a quirky and productive expression of social unrest, the police chief see as a potential violation of civil rights and affront to legal bureaucracy. Both viewpoints are presented as valid, although it should be noted that the film is slightly more sympathetic towards its subjects than it is probing of the potential pitfalls.

In a nutshell

Biased but fun, Mike Barnett's sympathy towards his subjects lends itself to a goofy, funny and terribly uplifting call to arms.

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