‘Being Batman’ Doc Delves into the Psyche of a Superhero

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Short of the Day

A look at the life and times of a real-life caped crusader.

On the surface, real-life superheroes might seem like just aggressive cosplayers.

A moment here to note that, no, I’m not messing with you, there are actually people – dozens to hundreds in fact – scattered across the US who consider themselves real-life superheroes and as such dress up in elaborate yet practical costumes to patrol their neighborhoods and keep the peace. I lived in Portland, OR for the last decade and we had our own little team of them. Very DIY.

So though they might seem silly to most people, to the heroes themselves their mission is a very serious matter that can involve bodily injury and even death. It’s also a legal tightrope walk, as the line between good citizenry and vigilantism is super-fine at best and nonexistent at worst. What then compels people to put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of their neighbors? And why do they have to do it in costume instead of, say, just as a regular person patrolling as a part of a community watch? Or, if they’re so into protecting citizens, why not join a police force instead of dealing with the constant threat of arrest?

These are complicated questions that connote a complicated psychology, and all of them and more are explored in the short documentary Being Batman from director Ryan Freeman in which we meet Stephen Lawrence, a self-deemed superhero who dresses up like Batman and wanders the streets of Brampton, a suburb in the greater-Toronto area. Before you start thinking spandex tights, though, Lawrence’s outfit gives Christian Bale’s a run for its money, and I guarantee you the Brampton Batman’s gadgets are more effective in real-life than any movie version’s.

There’s a lightness, almost a frivolity to talking about all this, but Freeman’s film is not comedic in the least, it is instead a powerful and insightful psychological study of social responsibility, personal accountability, and the extremes to which both can spread. This is grade-A, fascinating stuff here, and it’s guaranteed to surprise you with its depth and intelligence. Plus, Lawrence has a really, really awesome batsuit that you have to see to believe. Get your eyes all over this one toot suite.

Source: Short of the Week

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist