Posted in News on Tuesday, July 19th, 2011 at 12:00 pm 28 Comments

What makes a hero super? First-time filmmaker Michael Barnett found out for himself when he set out to research, conceptualize and ultimately shoot the documentary feature, “Superheroes,” made its world premiere on opening night at Utah’s 2011 Slamdance Film Festival and premiers on HBO August 8th.

After reading about the Real Life Superhero movement online in articles that featured such prominent community members as San Diego, California’s Mr. Extreme and Orlando, Florida’s Master Legend, Barnett’s interest was piqued. Having built a career around commercials and music videos, he felt that the Superheroes might have made for a good first feature with a cool pop-cultural edge. “I had no idea this ‘movement’ even existed,” he says, “but after doing some research, I went to my producer, (Theodore James), and said ‘This could be it.’ So we went down to San Diego and met Extreme.” And that’s where Barnett’s journey makes its critical turn.

“When we started I thought ‘Hey there were people running around in costumes fighting crime how great is that?’ But what I found was something much more than a great piece of pop culture, something so much more human—a deeply human story about people who often have very limited resources, but are real and ready to do anything they can to make the world a better place. It’s the direct the opposite of apathy, in fact. I mean, why do these people do this, even if it means becoming victims of ridicule? It’s just so noble.”

“You know, it’s kind of hard to look back now at what my original intentions were,” he continues. “What I learned was that the world of Real Life Superheroes isn’t a ‘community’ in any kind of unified sense. They are very much individuals. What I discovered was that every one is motivated by something else—for some it’s therapy, for some a deep need to connect to the world around them, for people to care for one another… but the thing I like is that whatever their reasons may be, here is this mass of people with different approaches, all doing one thing: Working to change the world around them, and hoping to inspire others to do the same.”

But perhaps the biggest revelation for Barnett was more personal than professional. “Making this film has had a deeply profound effect on my life,” he says. “I spent the last year wandering skid rows in the darkest places in America, in every major city, walking through tunnels of homeless people… I get emotional thinking about how it’s affected me. Look, we all know the homeless exist, but you have no idea until you really see it—it’s sickening—and it’s the most important thing these guys do. Crime fighting is good, but I was most affected being in New York City, seeing Superheroes like Life, talking, touching, listening to these men and women—taking the time with someone who’s been stripped of everything, just to bring them some genuine human contact. I realize I still need some time, to get some perspective on how this will manifest in my life, but I am very aware of just how profound this experience, this year in my life has been.”

And how does he expect his own personal revelation to affect those seeing this film, these Real Life Superheroes, in action, up close and personal? “I hope that people take from this film that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re at—do something, anything, help anybody in any way you can, and it will make you feel better. It’s like Thanatos says, if everybody in their community did one thing to help another person, it’s like ripples on a pond. It will change the world. These heroes can capture the imagination of the American people and make us more inspired, less apathetic about our lives. Their adopted personae make people listen and suddenly care. I hope that message gets put to good use.

“Just stop, just care about each other.”

Learn more about Michael Barnett’s film “Superheroes” at:

“Superheroes” 1-sheet:


28 Comments to ““Superheroes””

  1. Lost Prophet says:

    Very well done, sir!
    Where can I get a copy?

  2. Good Samaritan says:

    Aaaaaaand I’m officially geeking out now!

  3. Red Voltage says:

    Amazing, this will be the true film that will tell exactly what it is were doing, and I am so proud of everyone out there in the world doing something to help, you can to! all you have to do is stop and care about each other like Michael said!

    thank you guys for shooting such a wonderful inspiring peice

    -Red Voltage
    “Electrifying for Good”
    The Black Monday Society

  4. Josh says:

    Must have a copy for my collection.

  5. MMX says:

    This is such an inspiration! Thank you ALL for what you do. I can’t wait to see this film!

  6. The Eye says:

    I think many of us, principally those of us in the film, will definitely be securing a copy.

  7. [...] an interview with the website Real Life Superheroes, Barnett explains how after meeting the various vigilantes, what started out as “a good first [...]

  8. Mr. Ious says:

    I must say, at the other end of the Atlantic, Europe isn’t as safe as some might say…
    Europeans say that Americans make the silliest things, but the superhero franchise isn’t in fact some stupid kid’s thing! I am pleased that there are people that actually DO something instead of waiting for a crime to be over!
    Good luck with you, and god bless.


  9. Devin says:

    how can i be a part of the real life superhero. please someone tell me!

  10. Great blog post.Thanks Again. Want more.

  11. caleb121 says:

    come to plaesent hill to meet the x and tell the gang your the right ones.

  12. caleb121 says:

    come to to meet the x and tell the gang your the right ones.

  13. THE SHADOW says:


  14. Redviper says:

    Do you know what countries it is going to? I live in New Zealand and would love to see it.

  15. [...] “Superheroes” | The Real Life Super Hero Project. Read more from How to be a Hero, Ordinary People, Extraordinary Acts, Personal Values, [...]

  16. baronterror says:

    what’s funny to me, and i’m not trying to be rude, is all the questions I see around here about “how do I get started?” or “How do I get into this?” when that’s really kinda the point. Stephen King has mentioned that it always is kinda strange to him when people say to him that they “always wanted to be a writer” or “how do I become a writer?”. His response is always “then write”. Same thing here.

    You do it because you are compelled. You do it because you feel you must. You do it because you choose to do it. If you need an invitation, then perhaps it’s not really in you to do so.

    But by all means reach out a hand and help someone. With a costume, or without. It’s as easy as that.

  17. BatFake says:

    Just finished watching this on HBO. A brilliant film, no doubt, but perhaps not painting those involved in the best light. While my opinions are unchanged (in that I am fully supportive of RLSH initiatives), my family members also remained unchanged (in that they do NOT support RLSH initiatives).
    It’s always great to see both the positives and negatives, but on a topic that is already under high criticism, it would have been more beneficial to this community to focus on the positives.
    Just my thoughts.

    Keep doing amazing work,

    - BatFake

  18. EvidencE says:

    Watched the movie last night, best movie I have seen all summer your Super Heroes are the best.
    Keep up the great work and inspiration.
    Toronto Canada

  19. Ritchie says:

    me apunto pronto aparecera das……….

  20. the iron mask says:

    truly inspirational nobody else could do better when i comes to us you are truly an artist

  21. Comic Privy says:

    I watched the movie as well and I thought it was great, it did paint Master Lengend as a bit of an AA candidate. However, I take it is him in his natural state. I respect Mr. Extreme for being the one to start his XJL and creating a great relationship with authorities in his area. Life, Dark Gaurdian, Urban Avenger, Thantos, Superhero, DC’s Guardian, Razor Hawk, and Vigilante Spider are great role models because they teach that anyone can do this.

  22. [...] “Mr. Xtreme“, “Nyx“, “Civitron” and many more … >via (hihi) Share [...]

  23. Destroyer says:

    “Every man is guilty of the good he did not do.”

  24. Ebony Fox says:

    Truly inspirational…
    I’ve just started out in this movement (heck, I’m still making my costume), and I may not have some deep backstory, but stuff like this has motivated me to become a RLSH

  25. another super says:

    what you guys are doing is great

  26. another super says:

    what you guys are doing is great thank you

  27. Night flight says:

    I have actually been doing this sort of thing never actually imagining that there were others like me. I find it cool that I am not alone.

  28. Iron Angel says:

    Ready to go!

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