They have mostly lived in our imaginations, manifested only in comic books, TV shows, and movies as mutants given extra-human abilities, or aliens exiled to Earth, or skilled warriors aided by advanced gadgetry. Lately they have sprung to life in the real world—as captured in the documentary Superheroes—but these people are essentially knockoffs of the ones we wished for, wannabe vigilantes in ramshackle costumes with bizarre DIY weapons.
It begs the question—are there any real ones? How do we identify them? A cape? A signal in the sky? So we had an idea; let’s find everyday superheroes. We uncovered three people who stand out in a way that’s reminiscent of the traditional version—the distinctive skill set, the persona, the costume, the back story, the eccentricities even—but none fit any established pop culture mold.
We addressed the notion: what makes someone a superhero? They each replied gamely despite the obvious absurdity of the question. And we found something interesting—they have a cause. Not necessarily the same one, but they all strive for something important to them.
There are no clashes of good and evil or battles for the fate of our city. Their daily interactions may even be mundane by the standard to which we’ve compared them, but their missions are larger than themselves, like superheroes.
None of them will replace the Supermans, Batmans, and Mystiques of our daydreams. But each of them sees how humankind could be improved and devotes energy to bringing that better world into being. Best of all—they’re real, and they’re here among us.