Superheroes shoot through the air and swing across skyscrapers on the big screen like they were born to be bat-men and human spiders, but do characters who make it their life’s mission to slip in and out of the shadows to save lives go beyond fiction?
The caped (and masked, and hooded) crusaders of The Real Life Superhero Project are a super-powered, spandex-optional subculture changing the world with a streak of theatricality. Real Life Superheroes anonymously set out on altruistic missions to dispel the forces of darkness in the world. Chances are they’re doing amazing things in your own backyard. While no one in this real-life Justice League may have been born with levitation abilities or had their DNA altered by a lab accident, they come to the rescue of society’s most vulnerable citizens: the homeless, the helpless, the victimized, the chronically ill and anyone who may need a cosmic ray of light.
“I wanted to do something positive, heroic and also as a way of protest against indifference in society,” said former bullied kid turned citizen crime fighter Mr. Xtreme. “People are being victimized, and I feel that someone has to take a stand. Someone has to stand up and put a stop to it.”
Stealth operations include everything from handing out water to the homeless on hundred-degree days to just talking with those who find themselves entangled in what seem like impossible situations. Self-described “green space cowboy” Geist materializes and vanishes as quickly as his ghostly name suggests, leaving behind glimmers of hope for the downtrodden. Nyx patrols the city in search of those on the streets who could use a hand. Ragensi is a phantom who brings peace to those plagued by the occult. Vigilante Spider will blaze a flashlight beam in the faces of bullies about to harass their next victim. Master Legend (top photo) is legendary for psychic interventions, superhuman trials and founding nonprofit Justice Inc.
Most of the Superheroes are trained in first aid and martial arts, because the probability of attack or injury in cities with high crime rates is far beyond fictional. That proverbial armor is mandatory when you’re patrolling the crime-choked streets of New York and L.A. and Orlando after dark. Self-defense is sometimes a last resort. However, they distance themselves from the violence often splashed across the pages of comics, with the belief that intervening as a positive force is far more effective than clashing swords and throwing punches. Their power lies in a shared dream for a world that will someday not need them—but while evil still lurks, so do they.
“You have to have a vision,” said Master Legend, “and you have to hold on to that vision. And if you do, if you wish it and will it with everything you got, one day, eventually, you’ll reach it.”