Real-life superheroes, those brave (and some would say foolhardy) folks who strap on costumes and battle evil wherever they can find it, are reaching media saturation. They've become a staple of nightly news stations, scored a lengthy shout-out in Rolling Stone, and one of them, a lone soul who goes by the Wall Creeper, was profiled in these very pages. Next up? Superheroes, a new documentary film by Michael Barnett, to premiere on HBO on August 8.
Barnett, part of the Denver- and San Francisco-based production company Rehab, spent a year traveling around the country filming masked vigilantes -- in particular Thanatos in Vancouver, Mr. Xtreme in San Diego, Dark Guardian and Life in New York, and Zetaman in Portland. The resulting film, which was a favorite at this year's Slamdance Film Festival in Park City Utah, goes above and beyond the typical tongue-in-cheek fluff pieces on the matter. As Barnett told the Seattle Weekly:
Our first approach was to try and make people realize that each person is sort of eccentric in their own way, and they have their own reasons for doing what they do. It's not a rational thing to do, to put on a costume and walk around a dangerous neighborhood...
The other thing is showing their situation in life. Quite a few of them don't have the resources to do what they do. But they want to help their community. Some of them were sad -- financially, personally, and just in general. But it's showing that out of that darkness they could rise above and try to do something good. It's not all cookies and rainbows, though, it's profoundly sad and tragic on a certain level.
Unfortunately, those hoping to catch a glimpse of Denver's own superhero, the Wall Creeper, are bound to be disappointed. Rumor has it that the Wall Creeper has been inactive for some time now. Still, maybe sooner or later the Wall Creeper or some other local legend will soon step out from the shadows, ready to confront evil and score some face time on premium cable.