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Good hearted real story of vigilantism
Danny Blankenship15 August 2011
Just recently watched this HBO documentary titled properly "Superheroes" and oh boy it's neat and interesting to see just how far our love of comic books and superheroes has come. You guessed it real life ordinary people have resorted to dressing up as actual crime fighters and help the less blessed often giving food and shelters to the homeless at night. Really great access to this uncommon and feel good underworld as director Michael Barnett takes his projector all across America from coast to coast New York to California for a look at a group of unsung heroes who fight crime their own way it's really a good hearted style of vigilantism! True these fighters are not actual super people with powers like those in the comics, still they have enough determination and will to be a service to society. And true they are not law enforcement certified, yet they do a lot of good deeds and services that law enforcement does not as the film points in Orlando, Florida the police are wrongfully throwing the homeless in jail and always looking for petty little things to arrest people, yet these people of masks and caped crusaders and homemade costumes help those in need as many American cities are tired with police corruption. So we all need a new line of "Superheroes"! Overall nice little showcase by Michael Barnett I know it's unrealistic and far out still a select group of dreamers and hopeful people of good hearts rule the night in a city near you. Vigilantism needs to rock on!
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At turns disturbing, hilarious, and heartwarming
kosk1134821 August 2011
This fascinating HBO documentary follows several real life people as they dress up in superhero costumes and patrol their neighborhoods. Despite sharing this peculiar hobby, all of the people featured seemed to have different reasons for doing it. Some are misfits while some are clearly attention seekers. Others are out for vigilante justice. Some want to raise crime-prevention awareness in their communities. And some are tough to categorize, like the lovable Master Legend, who at first glance appears to be a troubled alcoholic but eventually reveals himself to be a compassionate do-gooder who passes out food and water to the homeless. He also provides much of the unintentional comedy of the movie.

And this is a funny film. Some of the lines are so perfectly ridiculous or well-timed that it has led some viewers to suspect it's a scripted performance, but assuredly these are real people. And while they may dress oddly, the filmmakers never stoop to mockery for cheap laughs. The entertainment lies in just letting these superheroes be themselves. If you are a fan of the documentary "American Movie" then you are sure to enjoy the same type of genuine human comedy in this film.

The one thing that these superheroes do share in common, though, is that most of them are struggling to overcome hard circumstances. Many had heartbreaking stories of childhood abuse. Zany as their costumes may appear, ultimately these people are victims looking to make sense of a world that hurt them and trying to make it a better place.

This is an excellent and thought-provoking documentary. I highly recommend it.

Master Legend rocks!
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Okay, but nothing happens!
grimlock197719 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The subject matter of this documentary is certainly interesting. What makes this group of real life, costumed vigilantes tick. The film makers follow a group of people who patrol their streets at night, trying to prevent crime, and worryingly in one case, bait crime. The problem, however. is that where other great documentaries seem to capture that elusive shot scene (be it a rare animal hunting down another rare animal, or firefighters unexpectedly having to deal with the largest terrorist attack in history), nothing of note seems to happen to these weird folk. There's a man whose foot is run over by a car, a couple of charity drives, and...that' Then there's guest speaker Stan Lee predictably supporting these "Superheroes" noble intentions, whilst a police authority repeats non-stop how they are untrained professionals. Ultimately, an opportunity that falls flat, although it's still interesting to see.
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up up and away but first a beer
Raoul Duke21 August 2011
So I watched HBO's 2011 documentary called superheroes. So was it good, I say up up and away (is that what superman used to say?) or in other words good. This documentary exposed me to a phenomena that I did not know existed, where people take the liking of superheroes way to far. Well that's not entirely true I saw a Mexican documentary a few years back, about Mexican wrestlers who were just people with a cause and a mask to draw attention to themselves called "super amigos", that was also very interesting and good. Basically this documentary is about a bunch of vigilantes most of whom are either out of shape, old, or drunks. There was a team out of New York which was actually composed of some very organized highly trained bad asses. But for the most part these are people with a super hero fetish who are just trying to do some good. My favorite line from the doc was when a super hero was describing his day it went as follows. "he's a regular guy who gets up,.... says goodbye to his girlfriend....., and goes out on the streets in costume." Then the documentarian asks "So you have a girlfriend?", and the super hero replies, "No ... I was just speaking metaphorically." I think that one line says it all, these guys are pretty freaking out there. However, they do good, they seem to help homeless people and shine a light on a common problem in this world, which is that most people turn a blind eye to injustice in this world including cops. So is this movie for everyone, well maybe some comic book geeks may be offended, but it has a good mix of entertainment value and educational value as well (it is a documentary after all). So mostpeople should find something to like about this flick I know I did. if you like concise reviews of interesting films please read my other reviews at
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It's a bird; it's a plane, it's... A very interesting documentary
robinski3427 June 2014
Superheroes is a worthy addition to this well-establish genre, arguably re-popularised by Michael Moore in the 1990s. Filmmaker Mike Barnett's piece is a straightforward portrait of some of America's real-life superheroes. Other than the nicely done cartooning that marks the film's chapters, and some shaky 'ride along' footage, it is mostly talking heads, but no worse off for that. The tendency might be towards a first reaction of 'Really?' but, while there seem to be varying degrees of 'grip on reality' among the subjects, it's hard to argue that their intentions are anything other than good. There are a surprising number of participants, with a wide geographical spread, revealing the breadth of this activity, and almost all have a sense of their own limitations, operating within those bounds, and the law - setting their sights on realistic and attainable objectives. No-one here is going to affect the spin of the Earth or fly an atomic bomb through a portal in the space-time continuum (of course!), but it would be a cold person who was not affected by the good deeds that these citizens do. Their public spirit is admirable and it's to be hoped that there are many more people out there willing to step up in their own (quieter) way when evil rears its head in our communities. Barnett's film is well worth a watch.
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A character study of real-life superheroes
dissident3205 September 2017
It's funny, weird and at times kind of sad. A lot of these so-called real-life superheroes don't seem to have a firm grasp on reality. One claims to draw inspiration from Batman who didn't have actual powers. Never mind that Batman is not actually real.

I'm not entirely sure what I was supposed to take away from this documentary. Most of the people are well-meaning but many seem mentally ill and may be driven by delusion rather than the greater good. Worth checking out if you can manage to eye-roll your way through some of the interviews.
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they genuinely want to make their city better.
oscar-3515 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
*Spoiler/plot- Superheroes, 2011. Follows the public service exploits of several real-life people dressed as comic book superheros who wish to make the community better and safer.

*Special Stars- The superhero names are confidential to protect themselves, families, and their work.

*Theme- Community service is for everyone.

*Trivia/location/goofs- Documentary.

*Emotion- At first the people behind the costumes seemed very naive and obsessed with the more trivial superhero minutia like capes, costumes and cars. The more you watched you started to see that they genuinely want to make their city better by using their community awareness to help others.

*Based On- Comic Books heroes and Stan Lee of Marvel Comics.
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A bit more complex than I first thought....
MartinHafer17 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of the strangest documentaries I've ever seen--though I still wondered as I watched it if perhaps this ISN'T a real documentary but a giant put-on. I did a bit of internet research and, yes, it DOES appear that these are real people! The film is about some VERY strange people who have created their own costumes and patrol city streets in the US and Canada as self-styled superheroes. At first, I thought they were all crazy. But, as I watched, I realized some were indeed very crazy (including the psychologist who seemed to think these folks were normal!) but some actually had some depth to them and contribute a lot to their communities. You'll see this in the second half of the film as many of them do a lot just to look out for folks in the neighborhood--helping the homeless, giving out toys to the underprivileged at Christmas and other community service activities. However, actually fighting crime and putting themselves into harm's way--that made me worry a lot about some of these folks.

The film is, at times, inspiring and others very funny. One of the funniest moments was Vigilante Spider and his comment about girlfriend (29 minutes into film). Another was seeing Mr. Xtreme getting his butt kicked in a martial arts competition (as apparently he did NOT have superpowers when it came to fighting). And, I also had to laugh about Master Legend--apparently his superpowers needed to be recharged regularly with beer! Although these are very strange folks, provided they DON'T get themselves killed by taking the law into their own hands, they could be very much like the Guardian funny costumes. Well worth seeing...and weird.
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Mystery men...
poe42615 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
That's what some of the masked heroes were called way back in the Golden Age of comics: "mystery men." The distinction between mystery men and superheroes is an obvious one: mystery men wear masks and costumes and fight crime (usually armed with some kind of gadget), whereas superheroes have super powers that they use against evil doers. Not exactly six of one, half dozen of the other... One of my (many) complaints over the years has been the unfortunate tendency of filmmakers and television producers to turn live-action superheroes into social workers. On television, THE INCREDIBLE HULK (like David Jansen in THE FUGITIVE before him) wandered the land righting wrongs and uplifting the downtrodden. Sure, there was a brief encounter with "The Abomination," but not very much else in the way of super villains on that particular show. Even THE SWAMP THING came to the Small Screen more often than not simply solving social ills. But I digress. The masked men (and women) in SUPERHEROES follow in the footsteps of the aforementioned teleheroes. In my book, that makes them HEROES, with a capital H; not super-powered by any means, but Heroes, nonetheless.
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A Sad But Fascinatng Thing
gavin69424 June 2014
A journey inside the world of real life caped crusaders. From all over America, these self-proclaimed crime fighters, don masks, homemade costumes and elaborate utility belts in an attempt to bring justice to evildoers everywhere.

Many of these folks are interesting -- some being sad, some really making a difference. The group that actively films drug sellers in their neighborhood probably has the best chance of really changing the world.

The strangest is probably Master Legend, who tells us that "when a man works up a whopping thirst" it is Busch that quenches it, "not some Kool-Aid." He claims he was raised by the KKK and forced to fight and has some sort of psychic ability. He likes to tout his battle with a crack smoking child molester...

One police officer asks: Is "bait patrol" entrapment? An excellent question. A crime is a crime, but is it right to coax someone into a crime? Is it right to dress up and hope that someone attacks you for "looking gay" while at the same time acknowledging you look "ridiculous"?
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SUPERHEROES. Fighting for Truth, Justice… and their own Comicbook.
Joe Kucharski (joker-4)19 December 2013
Hollywood has perhaps reached its saturation point with comic book and superhero movies with every film now becoming more of an event: a-list stars, groundbreaking f/x, tie-ins, lead-ins and hints at a larger universe packed with even more superheroes. Maybe it's time to take a step back. Show a real hero, totally DIY. Mike Barnett has attempted this.

The WATCHMEN Blu-ray set contains a featurette interviewing "real life" superheroes. Mostly these were young men wearing bulky costumes of sewn together sports equipment and pronounced delusions of grandeur; although one interviewee was ex-military and simply patrolled as a concerned citizen in fatigues and a buzz cut. The HBO documentary SUPERHEROES amps this idea into a feature-length spectacle.

Mike Barnett presents a typical day-in-the-life perspective of the non- typical man-in-tights. Or clunky plastic armor. With names, among others, like Mr. Xtreme, Zimmer and, ahem, Master Legend. Although their hearts are in the right place, a food-and-clothing drive conducted and distributed to and for the homeless of San Diego being a very worthy effort, their heads most definitely are not. Barnett shows these heroes as misguided - Mr. Xtreme possess no guide in life other than comicbooks, which he reads obsessively in his van – publicity-seeking – an unintentionally-hilarious Master Legend drinks and cavorts with college girls in that crime-ridden gotham of Orlando – or thrill-seeking – the NYC-based Zimmer who patrols dark streets just looking for a head to bash in.

Unfortunately, Barnett's docu never presents a clear viewpoint. Are these losers real and sympathetic, slaves to a worthy ideal? Or are they to be mocked at? Severely. Throughout the film the viewer does both. But they shouldn't. At times, the film appears to be as just as a rambling mess as Mr. Xtreme on patrol: sometimes boring, at times embarrassingly cringe-worthy. Also unfortunately, the preventing of crimes, or exacting flying fists of justice as Zimmer so obviously wants, never occurs. Giant aliens don't attack. There are no criminal masterminds' plans to foil. Not even a simple grab-and-run from the local 7-Eleven. This exacerbates the question running through the whole film: so what?

Hey, if anything, the film invites you to grab a drink with Master Legend. He has a Facebook page.
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