WARNING. Only the fearless and pure of heart should read on. As we get ready for the opening of the action crime drama ‘Jack Reacher‘ on December 21, 2012, the team here at TomCruise.com started to think about vigilantes.
OK. So first off. Is Jack Reacher a vigilante? According to freedictionary.com, a vigilante is a person or group who takes or advocates the taking of law enforcement into one’s own hands. Yup, that’s Jack! As created by author Lee Child, Jack is a no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners ex-Army officer bad ass who takes crime solving into his own rough and dirty hands.
Now, before you run off and take the law into your own hands we gotta be straight up and tell you we think law enforcement do a damn fine job. But every now and then, in the real world that we all live in, not IN the movies though sometimes influenced BY the movies, somewhere, someone decides, well, they’ve had enough. Enough crime. Enough violence. Just…enough. And like a modern day Batman or Iron Man or Thor or Jack Reacher, they put on a costume to turn themselves into a crime fighting vigilante.
We swear, this is totally real!
One of the most well-known, modern day vigilantes is controversial Brooklyn-born figure, Curtis Sliwa. ’Sliwa’ founded in 1979 The Guardian Angels. Never heard of ‘em? Check out their website at this link.
Their mission is to provide peaceful solutions to safeguard neighborhoods, schools and cyberspace from bullying, gangs, and violence. To empower individuals, especially our youth, to lead safe, positive, and contributing lives.
But The Guardian Angels (famously wearing their red berets) make something very clear about their mission. Peter Steeves, the blogger from their LA Chapter, writes that The Guardian Angels do not invade cities. They do not set up shop in a vacuum and expect everyone to take them or leave them. The key to successfully solving community problems is to get as many members of that community involved and cooperating as possible. Extreme importance rests in the support your neighborhood can build from all sides:
- Local Government
- Local Law Enforcement
- Business Owners
- Civic Groups
Hey, you, with the vigilante look on your face…notice it says “local law enforcement.” Even Jack Reacher in his upcoming movie collaborates with law enforcement. You would too if it was in the form of the beautiful Rosamund Pike!
The Guardian Angels may have more than 130 chapters in 17 countries. But we found some people not affiliated with them who are roaming their own streets around the world ready to fight crime in their own way. Some might call them vigilantes. Some might call them Superheroes.
In 2011, HBO released a documentary called ‘Superheroes” directed by Michael Barnett. From the official press release HBO stated, “They patrol the dark and dangerous streets, seeking out criminals and villains, veiled in secret identities. They call themselves real-life superheroes, and they are out to save humanity.” Sounds an awful lot like a vigilante to us! Watch the official trailer below.
The second online resource is an organization called “The Real Life Super Hero Project.” What began as a photo gallery exhibit to shine some light on this new breed of activism and altruism, it has come to serve as the launching pad of something far greater, according to the website, “A living, breathing community that inspires people to become the positive forces for change we all can be. To become more active, more involved, more committed, and perhaps, a little super in the process.” Currently, their website features 29 fearless men and women who take to their streets in their hometowns. Some of them are featured in the HBO documentary. Some are not. We looked through these two sites and picked six superheroes/vigilantes we thought were deserving of your attention. They piqued our interest because they are making a difference in their communities. Here they are:
“Mr. Xtreme” (San Diego, CA)– An Asian-American in his mid-30s, dresses in a handmade costume, which takes inspiration from Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He’s part of a locally organized group of crime fighters called ‘The Xtreme Justice League.‘ Together they go on patrols, participate in outreach efforts to boost volunteerism in their neighborhood, and look to make their city a safer place all around. Mr. Xtreme has said, “I think the most misunderstood part of what I do with The Xtreme Justice League is saying that we’re vigilantes. We’re not that, we don’t violate people’s rights and we’re not here to look for fights. We’re here to prevent crime and empower people to prevent it themselves by being seen. We’re showing the community that they can take a stand, not be prisoners in their own communities,” he continues. “This is what you can legally do to prevent crime. Yeah, we draw on the influence from those fictional comic book vigilantes, but we know what’s real. What we can and can’t do.”
“Zimmer” Barnes (Brooklyn, NY)– Bounding across rooftops in Brooklyn, Zimmer was the only unmasked superhero featured in the documentary. A 20-something gay man, Zimmer felt that he needed to be as open about his identity as he was about his sexuality; his no-frills uniform consisted of black pants and a basic grey tee. Zimmer was part of the “New York Initiative.” This crew regularly launched “bait” missions, in which one acts like an “easy target” in hopes of intercepting a criminal act. He is also a licensed emergency medical technician (EMT) and has worked as a volunteer field medic. He now lives in Austin, Texas.
Allison “Apocalypse Meow” King (Portland, OR): Fearless and feisty, Allison “Ms. Meow” King states on her website that she attributes her tough-as-nails attitude to her mother and upbringing. It’s this attitude that propels Allison to fiercely protect those who can’t defend themselves. Allison feels blessed to have been able to overcome hardships in her life and to be in the position to help others do the same. Her husband, Illya, introduced Allison to the world of real-life superheroes. She initially accompanied him only on patrols and in street clothes, but in 2007 Allison joined the superhero team full time. She created ‘Apocalypse Meow’ and designed a costume inspired by heroic female figures.
“Soundwave” and “Jetstorm” (Virginia): This shy sister (“Soundwave” in red) and rowdy younger brother (“Jetstorm” in blue) duo could teach us all a lesson on community service. Members of the Skiffytown League of Heroes, like the charter of their League states, they have banded together to promote heroic values through costumed appearances of original and mainstream super hero characters. They are usually to be found at a variety of charitable events, from blood drives to Independence Day celebrations, from visiting at VA hospitals to hitting the streets for the Walk For Cystic Fibrosis. Wherever you find them, they are proof you are never too young to do some good. Though “Jetstorm” wisely acknowledges being a superhero might not be good for babies.
“Captain Ozone” (Dublin, Ireland): Sometimes, crime fighting is not a battle of Man vs. Man. In this case, it’s Man vs. Nature. ”Captain Ozone” is considered by many to be the most phenomenal environmental activist of all time (this is a direct quote from his myspace page!). “Ozone” made his debut in uniform on March 13th, 1989 which made him one of the founding fathers of the “real-life superhero” movement. “Ozone” is saving endangered species, promoting clean energy and ecological art, and also teaching school kids how to create clean energy.
“Thanatos” (Vancouver, British Columbia): If you think this superhero looks terrifyingly like death, you would be right. The name “Thanatos” is from ancient Greek mythology for Death itself. He explains on The Real Life Superheroes website, “I have taken on the persona of death because I was told by a police officer that all the people living on the street had nothing better to look forward to than death. So if that’s the case, maybe death ought to start taking care of these people—and it might send a message. They’re getting it, they’re getting the message.” Each night, this local hero puts on his persona and greets the addicts and dealers, prostitutes and pimps, runaways and the homeless at the notorious intersection of Hastings and Main streets. There, he provides plastic sheets to protect against the cold and rain, dry socks, jars of peanut butter and jam, perhaps a can of meat that can be opened by hand—the most basic of basic human necessities. We are particularly impressed with his efforts to fight a different kind of crime that most people overlook: urban blight.
Superhero or Vigilante. Anyway you look at it, these are men and woman in real life who believe there is something missing in their society and they have what is needed to fix it.
Even though ‘Jack Reacher’ is fictitious, he is still a shining example of this and we look forward to cheering him on this coming holiday season.
Search ‘Jack Reacher’ on TomCruise.com, or, in the comments section below, tell us who is your favorite real or fictitious superhero vigilante. Be sure to connect with the entire TomCruise.com community on Twitter, Facebook, WhoSay, Orkut, Gree, Sina Weibo, Google+, Tumblr, and Tencent Weibo. Plus, get all the latest news and insider information when you sign up for the TomCruise.com official newsletter today!
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