Top positive review
Documentary fleshes out "superhero" subculture
on March 2, 2014
Until recently, I was peripherally aware of people who, for whatever reason, had assumed costumed alter-ego identities to engage in actions ranging from questionable (and life-threatening) vigilantism, to community service for the less fortunate folks in various communities who had fallen through the cracks, but other than fictional depictions of do-it-yourself heroes in popular culture, or the odd reference to the much-hyped "Phoenix Jones" of the Seattle area (who, interestingly, wasn't even mentioned in passing here), I was unaware of just how widespread such folks were, remaining ignorant of the lives and professions they practiced while not behind a mask, or their motives, such as personal trauma, religious beliefs, or concern about public apathy. So this film went a long way towards enlightening me about such individuals.
I was going to nitpick about more such individuals not being covered beyond New York, Vancouver, or Utah, seeing as how a U.S. map pinpointed a large number of the communities where such "superhero" activity was documented, but then, this film probably had a small budget, which would've made such thorough coverage prohibitive. So I'm letting it slide.
Interestingly, I learned about this documentary from, surprisingly enough, the DVD audio commentary for the 2013 superhero action film, Kick-Ass #2 (sequel to the 2010 cult hit about fictional do-it-yourself superheroes), whose director, Jeff Wadlow, mentions that the documentary Superheroes was used as a reference source when designing the fictional superheroes of this action-adventure film. He cites in particular, Zimmer (whom he mistakenly identifies as Z, alas), the gay hero of the New York Initiative who goes unmasked (saying that it's not unlike being closeted), as the inspiration for the fictional Insect Man, whose motives are very similar to Zimmer's. He also claims that Superheroes helped in designing and grounding two other heroes, a Mom-and-Pop super team, whose costumes are made more down to Earth, unlike the way the same characters appeared in the comic of the same name. So using a reality-based film to influence a big-screen hit was a very nice touch.