Who are some superheroes in real life?

Zora Colakovic, the subject of a "This American Life" story in 2001.

…at the age of 12, she sat down and composed a list of some 30 skills she needed to learn if she wanted to become as close to a superhero as any mortal could be. She even gave herself a deadline– to master these skills by the time she was 23… And the most incredible thing about all of this is that Zora accomplished nearly every item on the list

A transcript is at http://www.thisamericanlife.org/…

It's not completely clear what she's up to right now. Googling suggests she might be a private investigator in California.

3 Replies to “Who are some superheroes in real life?”

  1. It depends on how you define "superheroes." Some people are more strict and pedantic about it, insisting it means the existence of "super powers" or the character is not truly a "super" hero. So in the sense of a human in real life having abilities that literally transcend the limitations of possible/potential human capabilities, no that doesn't actually exist in real life.

    There are some cool close-to-it examples as Aditya Sanyal notes in his great answer, though!

    In the commonly understood sense, though, Batman is pretty broadly and generally recognized to be a superhero, as are other costumed heroic characters in comic books.

    So in that sense, actually yes there are people who now dress up in elaborate costumes and go out to try and fight crime. Their actual results are not, however, remotely similar to the "comic book sense" of the term superhero, since in the real world fighting crime as a superhero is pointless and senseless and ends up being pretty lame, as I explain in my answer to the question "Given our current technology and with the proper training, would it be possible for someone to become Batman?"

    Here is an actual online page for "real life superheroes" (as they call themselves) to register:

    The Real Life Super Hero Project

    In truth, most of them use their costumed identities to do social activism, help people in their communities who need assistance with non-crime-related problems, and to bring attention to social/community issues that they care about. But some also take it too seriously and walk around trying to be crime-fighters, living out a sort of fantasy frankly and not seeming to appreciate that if they did hypothetically end up coming across any really serious crime they could (and likely would) end up getting injured or killed, or could put other people at risk, as they attempt to act out their fantasy of living out some comic book story in real life.

    The ones using superhero ideas to draw attention to real social problems, to help the homeless and to participate in activism for their community, are doing good things and having fun in the process, so I give them total props and big thumbs-up. But the ones trying to be tough and thinking they'll be superhero crime-fighters and just living out some form of wish-fulfillment to make comic book stories come to life in their real lives need to stop and be more mature about it, and consider that there's honestly a lot more ways it could go wrong and get innocent people hurt instead of "going right" and turning them into cool crime-stopping comic book characters in the real world.

    Oh, except for THIS kid, who is awesome and totally saving San Francisco. He's a real superhero stopping evil-doers and deserves all our support and applause…

    San Francisco to Transform Into Gotham for Boy's Batman Make-a-Wish

    Now, all of that said, SOME DAY I think that actually YES, it will at least be possible for real life "superheroes" to exist in the world, as technology and health care etc advance to levels we can't even imagine right now. With exoskeletons that enhance strength, chemicals that enhance endurance, artificial limbs that turn humans into cyborgs with super-strength and speed, fake eyes or advanced contact lenses/glasses that provide enhanced reality and new types of vision, compounds for clothing that are bulletproof or turn invisible, flying suits, robotic body armor, etc, the day will eventually come when people are walking around with the capacity to do things pretty similar or even possibly exceeding things that some superheroes do in comics right now.

    It's likely police forces and military will reach that stage before the rest of us, of course, so in a way if your police force has all that kind of stuff, it'll be like having a paid team of superhumans policing your neighborhood, really.

  2. To answer the first part of the question, there are costumed superheroes in real life!

    For instance, Phoenix Jones (born Benjamin John Francis Fodor), is the leader of the  Rain City Superhero Movement, a Seattle, Washington based citizen patrol group that describes itself as a crime prevention brigade.

    Superbarrio Gómez is a Mexican "real-life superhero," celebrity, satirist, and organizer. Rather than fight crime and corruption with violence, he uses his image  to organize labor rallies and protests, and file petitions. His real  identity was unknown for a long time, but he has been revealed to be Marco Rascón Córdova.

    Master Legend is a "real-life superhero" and social activist from Winter Park, Florida in the United States, and even has a sidekick called Ace.

    In fact, here is a list of real life costumed superheroes which has more than 30 entries!

    Now coming to the second part of the question, which is fairly a single point answer, regarding the real life issues in "becoming a superhero".

    Police response to the actions of real life superheros 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 real life superheroes 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".

    It creates disorder in a functional social system and whether we like it or not, vigilantism is an anomaly in the social structure.

  3. He clearly earns the title of real life superhero for his super courage and judgement!!

    Vasilli Arkhipov – the Man Who Saved the World……

    October 27, 1962…………..50  years ago, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, second-in-command  Vasilli Arkhipov of the Soviet submarine B-59 refused to agree with his  Captain's order to launch nuclear torpedos against US warships and  setting off what might well have been a terminal superpower nuclear war. 

    The  US had been dropping depth charges near the submarine in an attempt to  force it to surface, unaware it was carrying nuclear arms. The Soviet  officers, who had lost radio contact with Moscow, concluded that World  War 3 had begun, and 2 of the officers agreed to 'blast the warships out  of the water'. Arkhipov refused to agree – unanimous consent of 3  officers was required – and thanks to him, we are here to talk about it.

    The BBC is airing a documentary on it. The world deserves to know his story.

    This is redirected from my answer to – What are some of the most interesting little-known things? For example: fast food restaurant ketchup cups are expandable.

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