Believe it or not this is a real thing. There are actually quite a few people – in many different countries – who dress up in costumes to fight crime. Enough of them in fact that a photojournalist has produced an album documenting them.
Earlier this year CNN reported on ‘the Rain City Superhero Movement’ which patrols the streets of Seattle.
They interviewed one of its members Phoenix Jones:
whose day job is teaching autistic children life skills, says he didn’t read many comic books when he was young, because he couldn’t identify with the heroes. “It never appealed to me,” he said. “For example Batman, he was this billionaire living in a mansion and I was just a broke kid.”
Then, at 14, he came across a little-known character called Nightwing who worked as a waiter during the day, and fought crime at night, and was hooked. “I fell in love with this idea, that you don’t need to have a lot of money to go out there and make a difference,” he said.
Jones doesn’t tackle criminals unprepared. He is a former mixed martial arts fighter, and wears a $10,000 bulletproof, Kevlar reinforced, fire-retardant jumpsuit, made with D3L smart fabric which hardens on impact.
His superhero activities landed him in trouble in 2011, when he was arrested for pepper spraying people outside a bar in Seattle. Jones said he was trying to break up a fight, and he was later released without charge.
Any scepticism you might have about this project may or may not be reduced by Jones assertion that:
only people of military, police or martial arts background should consider becoming superheroes because their training could help them deal with potentially dangerous situations.
‘The Rain City Superhero Movement’ is part of an international federation of such groups called ‘the Alliance’ that has chapters in the UK.
Whether this is proof that superheroes can encourage real people to nobility or a reminder that it glorifies vigilantism, is a matter I shall leave to your judgement.