Inside the world of real life superheroes

Originally posted:
LYNDHURST, N.J. – November 22, 2010 (WPVI) — Superheroes have been a part of our popular culture for generations. But you may be surprised to know that an actual real-life superhero community exists.
At first you might be quick to judge them. But once you hear their tragic backgrounds that mirror many of the fantasy figures we’ve come to love and their powerful missions you might think twice.
One says: “My name is Phantom Zero; I chose it because I have a love of cinema.”
Another says: “The name Nyx came from the Greek goddess of the night, which was the only time I could go out which was at night.”
We don’t know their real names, and we’re not allowed to show you their true identity. That’s because Nyx and Phantom Zero are living double lives.
“I read my first comic when I was 13 and I just kept thinking there has to be people that are doing this, obviously they don’t have super powers, but there still has to be people who want to do something good for the world,” explained Nyx.
Nyx discovered the Real Life Superheroes online community 5 years ago. It’s a community that stretches all over the world bringing strangers together with one common goal.
The secret society hopes to open the doors of their world to the public by allowing one man to tell their stories.
“I did quite a bit of research and discovered that the vast majority of media coverage was more exploitation only, they were looking for the humor in this story,” filmmaker Peter Tangen said.
Tangen is part of a team putting together a documentary about real life superheroes. He said he quickly learned that what these men and women are about is no laughing matter.
“I hope that as people learn about these individuals that they can look at their own lives and make a positive difference in the world around them,” Peter said.
Nyx says some of the heroes, including her, got into this to help fill a void.
“When I was 13 my mom died and that motivated me to want to do more with my life because she had never really gotten to live,” Nyx said.
Nyx also revealed she grew up in a strange religious sect forcing her to fight crime in the streets of Kansas City strictly at night.
“I couldn’t let them know that I was going out being a superhero and trying to help people.”
Nyx soon found her escape through Phantom Zero and moved to New Jersey. Like her, he too dealt with a tragic loss.
“One of the major motivations of me doing this was the death of my father,” said Phantom Zero.
Together they don’t fight crime but they do offer help to the homeless in New York and New Jersey.
But how are they received?
“Usually the people you’re helping don’t really care about the attire; they’re more than willing to accept help,” said Phantom Zero.
Nyx and Phantom Zero understand they will still have critics. But their hope is this:
“It’s very hard to convince the common man to pay attention to things, certain plights certain problems, in doing this we kind of standout and direct attention to those things,” Phantom Zero said.
For more information:
The Real Life Superhero Project
Real Life Superheroes
Superheroes Anonymous
Peter Tangen, Photographer
A site that challenges individuals to become heroes by undertaking various pro-social projects…
Superhero forums: