In Kick Ass the film, on our cinema screens at the moment, Dave is just a normal guy who asks a question. Why don’t more normal people try and become superheroes?
He then sets about becoming one himself, purchasing a lime green and yellow scuba suit (not the best for camouflage but eh..it’s a movie), and patrolling the streets with some batons, and some not so honed fighting skills.
I’d like to say this is the most interesting thing about the film, the lone man who breaks the mould. The mould being of course, that only people with superpowers (excepting Batman of course), can become superheroes, making a stand against crime.
But Kick Ass isn’t the only one. And I’m not talking about Big Daddy or Hit Girl who also appear in the film as (infinitely superior) dressed up dynamos. I’m talking about Real Life Superheroes, most of whom are recorded on The World Superhero Registry (WSR) (http://www.worldsuperheroregistry.com/world_superhero_registry_gallery.htm) These are the vigilante crime fighters who’ve taken to the streets in places like Arizona, Michigan, and NYC, Kick Ass’ home city.
In fact there seems no end to the number of individuals who’ve lived the Kick Ass dream, long before he hit our screens. The Black Monday Society patrol the streets of Salt Lake City, Utah, boasting members like the long haired Ghost, the mysterious Insignis and Oni, with a mask that puts me in mind of a more ominous V for Vendetta.
While in the film, Kick Ass, along with Big Daddy, and Hit Girl appear to operate on their own terms, those belonging to the WSR, must follow some basic and well advised guidelines.
- They must not carry guns or knives as they will be arrested as vigilantes. For this reason, Hit Girl if she was ever caught would be spending a lengthy period in the juvenile system. (Although it is still vaguely impressive that a 12 year old should know so much about weaponology)
- They must create their own costumes without infringing on Marvel or DC copyright.
- A good name is essential.
- They must adopt a philosophy which promises to do no harm, aims to exhibit sound judgement, and fairness in their dealing with criminals.
Essentially they are representatives, with a message, and a visibility on the streets. They don’t quite adopt the destructiveness of Hit Girl and Big Daddy, but instead like Kick Ass (after he realizes he can’t exactly go out beating up gangs without serious and foolish risks to himself) they offer a service and assistance, often through their websites. Citizen Prime (a father and businessman in real life), who patrols the streets of Phoenix, Arizona, says he even helped a motorist change a tyre once. In most cases, these masked crusaders, seem to be upstanding citizens, just trying to make a small change.
However some are quicker to dispatch with their own safety, like The Black Monday Society of Utah, who interrupt drug deals and take on armed thugs. And just like our regular guy Dave aka Kick Ass, who gets stabbed the first time he tries out heroism, some Real Life Superheroes have had hard times. Over a year ago in December 2008, a hero from L.A., called Mr Invisible, gave up his attempt at an alter ego after been punched by a girl who’s screaming boyfriend he was trying to calm down. The informatively named, Master Legend of Florida was attacked by a man with a hammer.
Perhaps even a greater risk, however, is the risk of being dubbed insane and sent to a psychiatric institution. Black Owl, another L.A. Defender ended up in such an institution, and had to rely on his teenage daughter to get him out.
Thus an active website and frequent presence in the media, is important for Real Life Heroes, to validate them, and their state of mind. Kick Ass benefits from having his vigilante actions recorded by bystanders and uploaded to youtube. Even though the classic comic superheroes were around long before the Internet, it seems today’s collective of caped citizens must embrace the power of the World Wide Web to help their crusade. We might laugh at Kick Ass answering request for help emails, and smirk at his blog updating, but this is how the world works. The Internet brings these real life heroes together, keeping the lines of communications open, and more importantly, keeping them up to date on what’s happening in the world. A real life Peter Parker might have reinvented his famous phrase, and commented that ‘With great knowledge comes great power’ . Whether one actually needs to dress up and change one’s name to gain power in society, is, of course, a different question, one Kick Ass might do well to ask sometime.