They patrol the dark and dangerous streets, seeking out criminals and villains, veiled in secret identities. They call themselves real-life superheroes (RLSH), and they are out to save humanity. From New York to San Diego, the exclusive HBO documentary Superheros profiles real-life caped crusaders who don masks, homemade costumes and elaborate utility belts to battle evildoers everywhere when it debuts Monday, August 8 (9:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.
There are currently more than 300 registered superheroes in the United States. Through candid interviews, patrol footage, archival material and motion graphics, SUPERHEROES explores this cultural phenomenon, revealing what inspires these everyday citizens to take the law into their own hands as they try to make the world a better place.
The film spotlights several of the country’s most famous masked heroes, including San Diego’s Mr. Xtreme and the members of Brooklyn’s New York Initiative (N.Y.I.) as they guard city streets with the goal of deterring violent crimes. Superheros also features interviews with: Stan Lee, legendary comic-book writer and former Marvel Comics chairman, who co-created Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, Hulk and Iron Man; Lt. Andrea Brown, a 24-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department; and Robin Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist and expert on the psychology of superheroes, both real-life and fictional.
Whether they actually protect the public from crime or are just oddball vigilantes, the vast majority of these men and women are motivated by a heartfelt desire to fight apathy and the so-called “bystander effect.” Some of the superheroes profiled in the film were inspired by the widely reported 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese, in which neighbors heard the victim’s screams without coming to her aid. Others decided to turn their lives around after struggling with violence, depression or addiction. Many RLSH channel their energies into doing a variety of good deeds, from giving out food and water to the homeless, to organizing toy drives for children in shelters. Check out the trailer below and don’t forget to set your DVRs!