Monday, August 1, 2011

In Review: Superheroes (a HBO Documentary)

Superheroes is a term which people know and associate with Spiderman, Batman, and Superman. You don't associate it with real people dressing up in costumes and walking the streets at night looking to stop crime. The documentary Superheroes follows some real life people who don masks and capes and patrol the streets of their respective cities.

There is a man from San Diego that is the leader and sole member of the Xtreme Justice League (XJL), another group from Salt Lake City called the Black Monday Society, a former child member of the KKK living in Orlando named Master Legend, a group of 4 that baits criminals called the New York Initiative and even one 62 year old dude from Vancouver, BC named Thanatos.

I was super confused as to the angle that the filmmakers were trying go with. All the written material would make you think that they are out to make these real life superheroes look really good, but then you watch the film and think...these people are insane. They start the movie with the XJL guy in his house watching old episodes of Power Rangers as 'research' and then he gets dressed up in this absolutely ridiculous costume with a cape. The doc proceeds to show different people from all over the country that do this same sort of thing. They get dressed up in costumes and go and 'patrol' their neighbourhoods.

The one group from New York has one person act as bait and hang out alone in attempts to get mugged and then the other three come in and capture the criminal. None of this was ever actually documented, but this is supposedly what they do.

They interviewed a couple of non-super people for the doc and one of them was a woman who worked for a police department. Her view on the masked men was that they are not trained, they don't know protocol and they should leave the crime fighting to the police. Most of the heroes seemed to be a little unimpressed with the police operations in their city and that was part of the reason they became vigilantes.

The only thing that I thought was actually positive from each of their situations was the compassion that they seemed to have for the homeless people. One husband and wife duo made up kits of necessities and went and handed them out to homeless people on the street. I don't think that you need a mask and an outfit to do that, but props to them for trying.

People running around, not on Halloween, in superhero costumes is just as absurd as it sounds, but after watching the film I began to understand what the point was (or what I am hoping it was), people have become so apathetic that they just don't care about anyone anymore. I would recommend you watch it if you want a laugh and would also like to feel crappy about being so self involved...because I can't be alone in this arena.

Verdict: 3.0 Stars

Superheroes premieres on HBO Canada on August 8 at 9:00 ET/MT


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