Real Life Superheroes

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RLSH Logo, By Illya King

Real Life Superheroes (RLSH) is a person who dresses up in a superhero costume or mask in order to perform community service such as neighborhood watch, or in some cases vigilantism.

Early examples of this type of behaviour are reported from the 1990s, e.g. with Mexico City's "Superbarrio", who in 1997 donned red tights and a red and yellow wrestler's mask in order to organize labour rallies, protest, and file petitions to prevent families from being evicted.[1] A "real-life superhero community" in the sense of an online subculture began to develop in the mid-2000s.

Real-life superheroes wear masks or otherwise disguise themselves in order to perform deeds ranging from community services to deterring crime.


Police and RLSH

Police response to the actions of real life superheroes is typically negative. The police "fear for the safety of these 'superheroes' and argue that sometimes they can get in the way of police work and become a liability". Police have expressed concern that RLSH insert themselves into situations without knowing all the facts and indicate that this is "not a smart thing to do". Police have indicated that super heroes who physically involve themselves in preventing crimes are practicing "vigilantism".

Fictional depictions

While "superheroes" in the strict sense are characters with superhuman powers, superhero fiction depicting vigilantes with no such powers have long been part of the genre, notably with Satanman (1939). Such characters are known as "costumed crime fighters" or "masked vigilantes", but are often also classed with "superheroes". With the development of the "real-life superhero" community, there have also been more realistic depictions of "masked vigilantes" in fiction, as it were "fictional real-life superheroes", starting with Hero at Large.



Modified from Real Life Superhero, Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 18 May 2018,