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Friday, 3 August 2018

Review: Superheroes (2011)


Synopsis: A journey inside the world of real-life caped crusaders. From all over America, these self-proclaimed crime fighters don masks, homemade costumes and elaborate utility belts in an attempt to bring justice to evildoers everywhere 

'Truth, Justice, & The Superhero Way'

Up until 2011's release of the documentary Superheroes, a good number of superhero based flicks were released theatrically and in cinemas, worldwide: Watchmen, the Batman movies, Blade, X-Men movies, Spider-Man,  Kick-Ass, whilst others were either mediocre or poor. The release of Superheroes also came about before Marvel ventured into the movie world and launched and created Marvel Studios, which became the birthplace for its theatrical releases & Warner Bros' DC Comics movies.

HBO's Superheroes is not about the fandom of DC and Marvel superheroes; rather it is about the superhero itself, the concept of a superhero and what s/he really stands for and the qualities that they evoke. I am not kidding when I say before I got stuck into this film, I was not aware that there were actual people who don costumes and fight crime and save the world. What I was and am aware of is there are so many unsung heroes who make the headlines in the press for doing heroic deeds, without the need for a costume. 

The film follows a group of people trying to prevent crime from occurring in their local areas. The superheroes in Superheroes are just your normal and average everyday people and through these colourful and varied characters, it becomes the documentary's main draw, as well as strength, as the stories and tales they tell and present to us demonstrate how committed they are to the cause of making the world and society a safer and better place for everyone. From Mr Xtreme and his eye rakes, eldest superhero Master Legend drinking beer out of a back of a van and is later donating toys to kids.

We don't get to see them beat up the criminals and police officers feel that not only are they not in a position to take the law into their own hands, they are concerned that they might end up getting seriously injured or hurt, because of it. But even within the community and the town's superheroes themselves, each one of them has their own set of rules and interpretation of right and wrong and the boundaries in which they ought to not cross. They believe it is their duty to be an example to all and to be good people and in taking down the bad guys and criminals. Understandably as well, most of the superheroes wear masks to conceal their identity and want to remain anonymous and they feel proud of what they do. There is a police officer who thinks it is a bad idea for them to take the law into their own hands, whilst one psychologist manages to offer an insight and analysis on why superheroes go about their business the way they do.

Superheroes approach is very easy-going, at times playful, but also insightful without encouraging vigilante and violent behaviour and it never insults or mocks the people involved. I think the director wanted to get the message across of how people who dress up as superheroes conduct themselves and act, especially in a civilised manner and that though they may have their reasons for doing what they enjoy doing, particularly in light of their own personal tales that have played a part in them going down this path, it all seems to be amiable and conclusive on the surface. & I personally admire them for that and for being so passionate in their endeavours and whilst the people have or had troubled lives, they see being a superhero as a way of not really taking out their feelings on others, but to turn it into a positive thing.

Watching Superheroes, I now understand that these people are genuine in their motivations and why they choose to do what many wished they could, like me, and yet these people have the guts, as well as skills and the genuine belief to go out there and make their actions heard. The vignettes from the likes of Master Legend were welcoming, without coming across as cocky or boastful and bragging about how good they are at beating people's ass, which would have been really offputting. It's a documentary version of Kick-Ass, minus the choreographed and staged fights and action scenes and in place of that, we get colourful characters, interesting human interest stories and an eagerness to showcase exemplary behaviour and being a role model almost, not for others to look up to, but for people to say 's/he is a good and brave person'.

One day, I'd love to see these would-be superheroes working alongside law enforcement agents and the police in real-life. 

Final Verdict:

They may not be held in greater esteem as Superman, Batman, Captain America and others alike and nor spring into action in a flashy and dramatic way as their comic book and movie counterparts, but their enthusiasm and sheer devotion, as well as wanting to be good people and wanting to do right, is all right and good by me. & that their honourable efforts ought to be acknowledged and appreciated more often.

Superheroes is a refreshing look at what a superhero might entail and in presenting the viewer an understanding of this particular brand of justice and whilst it may lack a certain bite, it humanises its subjects as we get an insight into this bizarre, yet fascinating topic.

After it ended, I definitely now have a lot more respect from them, and kudos to them and this documentary, courtesy of Michael Barnett, for that.


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