Real Life Superheroes

February 4, 2011 : 12:49 am | by Kasey Clark

Donning capes and masks these grown adults appeared as if they were getting ready to go trick or treating. Calling themselves “real life superheroes”, they seemed a little dorky at first.  The individuals featured in this documentary (written and directed by Michael Barnett) believe it is their duty to patrol the streets, fighting crime and picking up the slack that the police and other government institutions leave behind. As we follow the lives of several “real life superheroes” however, it becomes apparent that the work they are doing is not only beneficial to society, but vital to their communities.

The tone at the begging of the film seems to mock these cape and spandex wearing crime fighters. In the first few minutes of the film we take a tour of one man’s extensive action figure collection and watch as he sings along to  the Power Ranger opening sequence on his small television. He is known on the streets as the helmet and amor wearing Mr. Xtreme,  and he is the founder and  sole member of Xtreme Justice League, a citizen’s crime fighting organization in San Diego. His apartment is shabby and his social life is inactive to put it nicely. With a pot belly and no girlfriend, Mr. Xtreme  spends the free time he has between multiple day  jobs patrolling the streets hoping to prevent violent crime. We join him on a nightly escapade to patrol a part of campus where a sexual assault had been reported earlier. Although Mr. Xtreme runs into more hostility than appreciation from the community, (a guy threatens to call the police on Mr.Xtreme if he doesn’t leave his lawn), he is confident his presence, costume and all, is a deterrent to prospective offenders.

Next we meet Master Legend. He’s a long haired, middle-aged vigilante  who likes his beer and makes his own weapons out of cardboard and other household items. After cracking open a cold one he opens up about how his father was a member of the Klu Klux Klan and used to beat him. It was his loving and supportive grandmother, he says, who taught him that he had the potential to be a great force of good.  Turning past traumatic experiences into positive outreach turns out to be a reoccurring theme in many of hero’s lives we meet along the way. The commitment these ordinary citizens have to altruistic service is inspiring.  Every night  you’ll find Master Legend like many superheroes around the world (yes, it’s a global online community) handing out food and blankets to his cities homeless. A hero husband and wife duo hands out care packages every week to those living on the streets-the cost of which all comes out of their own pocket. Many of these heros have limited means themselves and it is astonishing the sacrifices they make in order to do what they do in their communities. When finances get tight Mr. Xtreme moves into his van rather than cease operation of Xtreme Justice League. You’ll come to really admire these quirky yet concerned citizens, as even director Michael Barnett admits he did in the midst of shooting this movie. What begins as a mockumentary becomes something very heartfelt as one grows  immense respect for these selfless individuals. Overall, this movie kills apathy and kicks evil villain butt!

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