About the Project

Posted in News on Sunday, May 23rd, 2010 at 3:33 am 41 Comments

Do you recognize a superhero when you look one in the face? Do you think such men and women truly exist? If not, then look. And think again.

Indeed, there is a real subculture of genuine heroes, that bridge the gap between the fantastic and the practical. Anonymous and selfless, they choose every day, to make a difference in the world around them. Whether it be feeding the hungry, comforting the sick, or cleaning up their neighborhoods, they save real lives in very real ways. These are not “kooks in costumes,” as they may seem at first glance. They are, simply put, a radical response… to a radical problem.

So who are these modern day heroes? They are our neighbors, our friends, our family members. They are artists, musicians, athletes, and yes, politicians. Their actions serve as reminders that as most giving today has become reactive—digital and removed, temporarily soothing our guilt and feelings of helplessness—we have blinded ourselves to simple principles and practice of compassion and goodwill.

Photographer Peter Tangen has earned the trust of this loose network, to visually document the genuine power of these individuals—and in the process, reveal the soul behind their endeavor.

At first, The Real Life Superhero Project was conceived as an avenue to shine some light on this new breed of activism and altruism, through a photographic installation to benefit the established organizations the superheroes believe in. But as more people were brought into the wholly volunteer project, largely through Tangen’s infectious enthusiasm, the scope and purpose expanded exponentially.

Now, what began as a gallery exhibit, has come to serve as the launching pad of something far greater—a living, breathing community that inspires people to become the positive forces for change we all can be. To become more active, more involved, more committed, and perhaps, a little super in the process.

The website you have arrived at is your starting point. Look around, learn, absorb and ultimately, act. Here you’ll find continually evolving content, offering fresh insights into the superheroes themselves and opportunities for you to become involved, as well as news about the project and its progress. And hopefully, you will come to realize that it doesn’t take a cape to go out and help someone, just the desire to become an active force in your own life, and see how that can affect others.

Through The Real Life Superhero Project, Tangen asks you, the viewer to embrace the intention of the heroes, to take a moment to discover the morality and conscience behind their actions, and ultimately, make the commitment to making a difference yourself.

Celebrate and honor them. And find the hero in all of us.

41 Comments to “About the Project”

  1. Sue says:

    I’m interested enough to read on – I’d like to know if this is a worldwide initiative…

  2. peter says:

    Hi Sue, There are heroes all over the world. These incredible people were mostly inspired by comic books and the tales of morality they told, comic books are an American invention so the majority of heroes are in the US but there are others in Canada, Italy, Japan, Mexico, England and elsewhere. Some, like Amazonia, have been around for many years, others have appeared in the last year or two. We’ll be releasing more profiles over the rest of the year and adding additional content so stay tuned!

  3. COOLEST THING EVER! SO Inspired to want to become a hero myself and support this as much as I can!

  4. DangerWoman says:

    I am very honored and proud to be a real life singing superheroine/disabilty rights activist in the RLSH Business. In the 18 years I have been doing this, I have nearly done it all, even though I have a disabilty called Aspberger’s, which I refuse to let it stop me from being a very successful superheroine and heroic spokesperson for those who cannot speak for themselves, namely the disabled prisoners of conscience, political prisoners with disabilties who have been wrongfully locked up and incarcerated in mental hospitals, institutions and nursing homes,without a fair trial or a hearing or even the right to go to school, just because their only “crime” is a “crime of genetic innocence”-Born With A Disabilty.
    I am more than willing to play my heroic part in this great project and I am more than willing to be interviewed for this.
    Thank you for reading this and I look forward to talking with you.
    Yours In The Fight For Justice,

  5. peter says:

    Hi Danger Woman, I am very familiar with you, a fan in fact, and I hope to have the honor of meeting you one day!

  6. SUTIL says:

    not to wreck the mood or anything, but i think being a superhero doesn’t need a costume. i find these people funny because they really dress up for the occasion, and at the same time i admire them for having the initiative and the courage to do such things a common person would pass by. all i want to say is, keep up the good job. and lose the costume if you could actually do. it makes the good deed more like a publicity stunt rather than the act itself. peace. :D

  7. Geist says:


    Hi, I’m Geist, (The Emerald Cowboy), the guy in the front and center of the multi-tiered group shot. Pleased to meet you.

    Today, I was out on a charitable mission during which I Made donations to my local animal shelter which is housing 101 cats. I then went to Ronald McDonald House, which hosts children with cancer to donate aluminum to raise money with their “Cans for Kids” drive. Then I patrolled town and gave hot meals to five different homeless people in various locations who were panhandling along busy highways and streets.

    Part of the reason for the costume certainly is to draw attention. -Not to me, but to the problems of society and what someone… anyone can do to step up and assist people. Believe me, everyone notices when I walk up to someone and give them a hot meal. And then if they want to talk, I’ll take the time to listen to their problems and suggest some possible solutions. So yeah, a lot of cars sre going by and people see, “There’s someone helping.” Hopefully, they wonder if they couldn’t also help.

    I also do crime patrols of my area, looking for trouble and actively pursue wanted criminals. I’m well known as Geist for obliterating gang graffiti with legal methods of using neutral gray paint. But that’s considered by gangs to be an insult worthy of lethal retaliation.

    So another reason for the mask and costume is that I don’t need these guys to know who I am. For the safety of my family, I don’t need a drive-by where I live.

    Another reason for the mask and costume is that you might wonder if behind it, I might be anyone. I could be your neighbor, your brother, your mailman or your father. I might be anyone and most importantly, anyone could be me.

    Finally, I don’t need or want the self-satisfying thank yous or credit. I don’t need people to think that (Insert my real name) is a wonderful person. That just takes away from the deed itself.

    Sutil, how’s that? Does that sort of give you an insight about the reason for the costumes?

    If not, I might just have to fall back on my friend, Superheroe’s answer and respond that “It just makes it a hell of a lot more fun!”

    All My Best,

  8. legend says:


  9. RazorHawk says:

    I will say something about the costumes as far as doing charity and if or not it is publicity. Yes, yes itcan be. But follow my reasoning on this. When I go to Feed My Starving Children and pack meals for kids in poor areas in my civi identity, it doesn’t bring any attention to FMSC, sure it gets the job done with one more set of hands, but it doesn’t tell others about the charity.

    When I was young, I saw how celebrities would endorse a certain charity, and gosh darn it if not everyone and his brother thought it was cool to help out. This left charities that celebrities weren’t helping pretty much get attention through word of mouth.

    When we are downtown helping homeless people, giving them something to eat or drink and we are in gimmick, I have noticed that people will walk up and offer assistance, sometimes slipping the person a buck or more. Out of gimmick, people just walk by and give you a weird look.

    So why the gimmick, is it publicity? Maybe, but it gets the message out there and thats the best we can do cause we can’t help everyone, but if we plant the seed in a persons mind that they can help too, maybe we have done some good.

    Plus, its hella’ fun!

  10. triumvirate says:

    On the matter of costumes:
    The occurrences that require my particular brand of intervention occur at random and unforeseen times. The last two of these occasions were life-threatening and involved saving children from harm, and one of them battling four-foot flames. Certain materials can hinder your response to some dangers (like wearing plastics and metals into fire).

    Does it make me any less of an RLSH because I do not wait to dress up before helping out?
    Can my “costume” not be everyday wear so as to blend in?
    As I stated in another post; in some cities/countries it can be tantamount to suicide to draw attention to yourself. It is safer/easier to go unnoticed in the shadows wearing jeans, and a tShirt (which is in fact my costume)


    Keep up your good work, you inspire many.
    I for one prefer to remain cloaked in anonymity.

  11. The Green Guardian says:

    I, like many out there across the world, strive to make a better exsistance for our children and our childrens’ children. I am a man who, for a long time, thought that I was different or strange for wanting to become a superhero. Many a night was spent in the dark recesses of my basement toiling away at an identity that I thought would never see the light of day. And then I found this group of individuals who shared the same passion that I have. I thank you, Zetaman, Giest, Nyx, Crimson Fist and Life and the rest of the RLSH for what you do. For having the strength to stand against what is considered “the norm” to do what you know in your hearts is right. You have not only inspired me to make myself known, but I am sure cou ntless others around the world who view the site each day.

    My only hope is to one day stand amongst the likes of such noble heroes…

  12. Heroic says:

    Thank you Green Guardian and welcom, you my call me Heroic. I have been reading all this about “costumes” and I will add that those like SUTIL, do not realize these costume are a part of us as well. Alowing the normal man or woman to step out from who they are so as to become something super. And though it is good Triumvirate help those in need the myth that costume are not right for fire and so is a laugh but wearing civis dose not make you any less a superhero. As for the fact my costume helps me blend in to the shadows and background alowing me to watch over the people of Branson MO without anyone knowing but it still looks like a superhero costume.

  13. The Eye says:

    Good work, Peter! Wish I could have joined you for your shoot.

    In Seeing Justice Done,
    ~The Eye~

  14. You are awesome and what great photography! Keep up the great work–the world needs you. I am very proud of all of you.

  15. peter says:

    Thank you sir, I do hope to meet you someday!

  16. Paw girl says:

    Amazing I’d never thought I’d see people like us online =D Hope we meet someday ^.^May I join the pack? :) will I be able to be one of you?
    a knight for justice & peace,
    paw girl

  17. The Animal says:

    Yesterday I Was In Costume Picking Up Trash On The Side Of The Road ( I Picked Up 3 Trash Bags Full) Anyway The Cops Stopped Me, It Was Kinda Scary, But I Told Them What I Was Doing And I Explained That I Come From A Community Of Superheroes, And They Seemed To Respect That.

  18. the dark valley says:

    when i was out looking after the town something sticky was on the ground. town ground HA I’m funny but anyways something sticky was on the ground if you know what it might be could you tell me its just i never stepped on the ground and felt a sticky substance on the ground the reason I’m wondering is because well their was nothing their that might cause the ground to go stick

    the Dark-valley

  19. Geist says:

    Thanks for the kind words, everyone. I’m just loving seeing the cool new images and profiles of my Friends being released!

    Dark Valley,

    Something sticky? Not sure, but if it was a large area and had any kind of petroleum sort of smell, it could be a sort of illegal and hazardous dumping that you might want to give the EPA a heads-up about. Their website is http://www.epa.gov/epahome/hotline.htm and you might look into Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse (PPIC)
    email: ppic@epa.gov

  20. Gaucho Negro says:

    the Brazilian and I wonder how I join you in this fight to a better world …. I’ve already chosen the name and the mission … patrol our main municipal park, who suffers from assaults by the light of day and the homeless. My name is Black Gaucho. I know how it will be clothes, but I have doubts about how I should deal with the police and to cooperate with their work. I hope some light to proceed. Thank you.

  21. Kalar says:

    Awesome! Will be sharing this page.

  22. Shivkar says:

    Wow… just… wow

    I grew with the ideal of the heroes. Not the comic ones, sadly I never had the time or resources, but what I saw the old heroes of history: Knights and Soldiers of heart, not of politics, the ones who, no matter what, would protect and defend, and also give a kind word or a hug if needed. The ones that weren’t afraid of going against orders if they were against their morals, or the wellbeing of innocents.

    As I grew and matured, I left most of my ideas as fantasy of books or ideals long lost, except in the minds and imagination of a few, that keep the flame living through the comic books. For some time, I wished to enter in our Army Forces, the only way I saw I could keep faithfull to this, but it was impossible for me.

    Seeing this, a group of people that still have the old ideals in their life, not concerned with race, color, age or gender has me feel a bit alive again. I may be on the other side of the world (Chile) but I thank you, you are inspiring and courageous as few, not only through your image but also through your actions and your words. Anyone can be an anonymous hero, and our recent earthquake and mine accident showed that, but it takes real bravery to accept yourself as one, and to allow yourself to be recognized as one.

    Again, thanks, thank you all for what you are doing, and for showing the world that this can be real.

    Shivkar Rüniel

    PS: Just a question. Do you have much problem with law enforcement? What do you do then?

  23. Alton J says:

    All ~ Excellent site and I fully support what you do. You are real American Heroes! Like it or not…American needs you. Thank you for the work all of you do and please be safe!

  24. Mega Ultra Lightening Babe says:

    Rock on with your good deeds, Seattle boys & girlz! Bring it to the “D”…the Motor City. I would be happy to work your back up team!!
    Keep it hard, keep it safe!

  25. CarlosGonzales says:

    Dear RealLifeSuperHeroes….
    u should organisate a possibility to spend some money for ur works…
    so u can help more…
    i think there would be many people who not could do that what u do…
    but they want to help too… why not spend for a HeroeGroup in our Town…
    wouldnt that be an upgrade… people could identify more with u… they wnat to help to…
    but maybe they are too afraid to run through the streets… u need very huge balls for that…

    In Germany we had an team whiteangels… for long years ago the did the same…
    protected people in the undergroundtrains and so on…

    If just 1% of ur young guys who went to irak have done what u do… the usa would have been super hereo country without crime…

    Ideas from Germany greez

  26. WannaBe says:

    I want to be a super hero!

  27. [...] 這是電影海報,但主角們並不是一群超能英雄,而身處在你我之間,真實世界的「英雄」;在還沒上映前,製作團隊就已經先架設好網站做宣傳了,這裡是他們整個計畫的構想說明,完全說出重點-真正的英雄並不是像漫畫中的角色,而是無私為人群付出的人們。 [...]

  28. Hucko says:

    Wow! This is amazing! Do you guys make your own costumes or do you buy them from a special shop?

  29. thunder hawk says:

    thanks to all the rlsh you have inspired me to be a superhero in my community
    -Thunder Hawk

  30. Green Galliant says:

    This is simply amazing. Thank you.

  31. Reason says:

    if some could get in contact with me, i’d sure like to roll with a pack. but im in england and quite young so.. yeah

  32. [...] have become a national phenomenon, with multiple online forums and a photographic gallery, The Real Life Super Hero Project. For those interested in participating in a caped crusade, a reference manual, created by [...]

  33. Ave the American says:

    As a comic book fan I think this is cool but as a father and soon to be soldier this just seems irresponsible, why not have become a police officer or firefighter?…its a little bit corny…

  34. nocturne says:

    you guys are my heroes, and i really want to start a group in my town, and hoplfuly we will make a difrence just like you

  35. Nameless french says:

    Hi super heros i see you project but i have a question

    It’s a hard work to lauch this project i think , but in the street you never fear to gun , weapon or other criminal ?

    And you think i can lauch a same project in france ? (we really need some super heros here)

  36. NumLock says:

    It seems like those who aren’t paramedics, beat cops, and military (for example) are achieving mature, civic and social responsibility using the RLSH / X-Alt ideas. The labor force is obviously not enough, so please do what you can to improve your community, even if it takes putting on a costume. Fiction is fun, but the real world needs us!

  37. Kid Titan says:

    How do you join

  38. Auri Ly Per says:

    Why doesn’t every city have a hero? Sure, we ought to keep to the law (sadly, no Batman crime stopping for us) but doing what is right (helping the homeless, inspiring children) that is what heroes are for. I’m so very glad to know that there are people out there doing what we need, and having fun while they’re doing it.

  39. aiden says:

    hi im intrested in joining ive planned out a suit and ive done tons of charite work I’m pretty young but not young enough to not stand up i ail not say my name but i live in great falls mt and they call me sting ray. i would get about 2 more years of training and i can join.

  40. Shannon says:

    I am an everyday superhero. I don’t have a cool name or persona, just my job title. I am a Social Worker.

© 2018 Peter Tangen/The Real Life Super Hero Project. All Rights Reserved. • Website Customized by James Kocsis