- By Elizabeth F. RalphElizabeth Ralph is a researcher at Foreign Policy.
Earlier today, police in the British city of Bradford reported that a man dressed as Batman had walked into a local police station and delivered a wanted man. Ever since, the media has been buzzing with questions: Who is this caped crusader? How did he come across the suspect? And why did the man shun the Dark Knight suit and opt instead for the 1960s-era gray one? (The Telegraph is currently reporting that the mysterious crimefighter is actually a Chinese takeout delivery man who dropped off the suspect, a friend, at the police station after attending a soccer match in his superhero outfit.) It’s undoubtedly a fascinating story. But it’s also worth noting that the Bradford Batman is not the only superhero living among us.
In December 2011, for instance, Superman made an appearance in Melbourne, Australia when he interrupted his own bachelor party to help a pedestrian who had been hit by a car. Though this Superman was in fact a trained doctor, his attempts to help were initially rebuffed. (Guess these days the suit doesn’t actually inspire confidence.) While passersby dismissed the incident as a viral video stunt, the good doctor helped stem the victim’s bleeding and kept him stable until the ambulance arrived — all in time to get married the next day.
Late last year, meanwhile, Spiderman was spotted gallivanting around Warsaw, spraying his web, hanging from ceilings, chilling on the subway — and proving that even Spiderman needs a day off every now and then.
In 2009, France’s own Spiderman scaled a skyscraper in Paris. No ropes, as one would expect:
Not all superhero crusades turn out so well, however. A few years ago, amateur fighter Ben Fodor dressed up as a superhero he named "Phoenix Jones" and assaulted a group of people with pepper spray. Though Fodor/Jones claimed he was breaking up a fight, the only obvious fight in the video he released of the incident was the one that broke out after he doused a bunch of people with pepper spray, and women started throwing their shoes at him.