We’ve been fascinated with comic books lately–with nine superhero films this summer, it’s tough to avoid. The new HBO On-Demand documentary Superheroes, however, takes a different approach. It profiles a number of “real-life superheroes”–self-styled vigilantes who take to the streets, protecting the innocent and dispensing their own form of justice.
This real-world phenomenon has been on the rise in recent years, especially in bigger cities like New York and L.A., where “heroes” can operate unchecked by police. It’s a strange situation with undercurrents of danger and stupidity–especially when you watch these people with masks and crossbows in action. “Criminals have guns,” cringes the website io9 in its review. “They will shoot you in the face.”
Not everyone in the film is a violent crusader. Some are merely do-gooders with curious wardrobes–most notably, a superhero who calls himself “Life.” His real first name, he says, is Chaim. His mission? He distributes clothes and kind words to homeless people while wearing a mask, a fedora, and tzitzit protruding from his dapper outfit.