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March 26, 2006 2:01 AM   Subscribe

Real-life superheroes?

I was wondering -- are there any accounts of people attempting to be superheroes, or otherwise masked vigilantes? It doesn't matter whether they succeded or whether they were caught and branded as lunatics, as long as their identities were concealed, and they attempted to do good at the expense of physical (or non-physical) force..
posted by suedehead to Society & Culture (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I was going to mention SuperBarrio in Mexico city but this Wikipedia article on Real-life superheroes pretty much covers it.
posted by vacapinta at 2:25 AM on March 26, 2006

There is a guy that attempts to be Spiderman, but not for any altruistic reason - he just wants to climb buildings. He was refused from climbing the Petronas Twin Towers (back when they were the tallest building existing) but generally he's tolerated, if looked at strangely.
posted by divabat at 3:24 AM on March 26, 2006

Ah here he is. (thanks, vacapinta.)
posted by divabat at 3:26 AM on March 26, 2006

There's angle-grinder man though I seem to remember he was a hoax cooked-up by one of the b3ta members. Bless 'em.
posted by blag at 4:16 AM on March 26, 2006

We had a thread in the Blue on Captain Jackson, who fought crime in Jackson, Michigan, until he got snagged on a DWI.
posted by Gator at 4:19 AM on March 26, 2006

Angle-grinder Man - a self-proclaimed superhero - patrols London by night looking for unhappy drivers who have been clamped and then sets their cars free.
posted by zaelic at 4:35 AM on March 26, 2006

posted by teg at 8:34 AM on March 26, 2006

There was an interesting episode of This American Life recently (2/23/01, if you want to listen to it online) about superpowers, and one of the stories was of a woman who attempted to become a superhero of sorts, by mastering as many extreme-type skills, like wilderness survival, explosives, etc., as she could.
posted by ITheCosmos at 2:31 PM on March 26, 2006

My post on the blue about Captain Jackson had a few links to real-life superheroes.
posted by luftmensch at 6:22 PM on March 26, 2006

The Klu Klux Klan started life as masked vigilantes, although not of the positive sort. In the popular imagination, they were defending Southerners from illegal and immoral encroachments from the North and from freed slaves. See "Gone with the Wind" for the ... ahem ... whitewashed version. The old-school Klan was a Masonic-like "secret society," complete with heroic names like "Grand Wizards" and so forth.

You could also argue that the various Old West posses, "regulators" and good old-fashioned lynch mobs thought they were doing super-heroic work -- dispensing justice where the law couldn't or wouldn't -- although they didn't use that term.

Moreover, modern notions about superheroes and supervillains owe some debt to the Old West as seen in popular culture. In this light, Wild Bill Hickock, Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson were all "superheroes." Billy the Kid, Butch & Sundance and Jesse James were the supervillains of their day.

On a different note, the Guardian Angels organization were akin to vigilantes, and although they were uniformed, they were not masked.
posted by frogan at 6:54 PM on March 26, 2006

Super Barrio's amazing. He's a person who has spent countless selfless hours volunteering, giving a voice to people who are disenfranchised. If you're at all interested in this, spending a little more time on Google can't hurt - there's a lot more to him than just that Wikipedia article.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:57 PM on March 26, 2006

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