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Nadia Fezzani Reveals the Truth Behind Real Life Super Heroes

It’s no secret that our culture is fascinated with superheroes.

From Spider-man to Wonderwoman, you can find superhero comic books, movies, and TV shows everywhere. “Heroes with extraordinary powers have fascinated people throughout history,” says investigative journalist Nadia Fezzani.

“People see injustice and pain in the world and long for the idea of someone being able to banish evil.

Additionally, many of the ideals people held in the past are not shared by modern society (religion, etc.). As a result, some people are eager for something to believe in.”

I’ve often wondered why people are so enthralled with superheroes. My son Elijah (17), for instance, is a big fan of superheroes. His favorite hero is Ghost Rider.

“I like him [Ghost Rider] because he’s mysterious and because he takes vengeance on other demons,” Elijah told me. “I also think that he looks really cool and just the concept of him being this demon, yet he’s fighting for good, is interesting to me.”


Ghost Rider
Cover to Ghost Rider #1, September, 1973. Art by Gil Kane. © Marvel Comics.


Yes, Real Life Super Heroes Are Real.

A few weeks ago, Elijah and I were discussing the concept of someone being a superhero in real life. He told me he thought it would be cool to help save people and make a difference. At the time, I thought it would be interesting, but I honestly thought there was no such thing as a real-life superhero.

Turns out I was wrong.

Superheroes are real. There are people who actually dress up in costume and go out in their city or town to help people. Fezzani researched and wrote a book about these”real-life superheroes”. The project took her two and a half years to complete.

In her book, Real Life Super Heroes, Fezzani follows and interviews the men and women who put on a superhero costume at night to help fight crime and save people.

Good Life Detroit had the opportunity to interview Fezzanit about her new book. She answers questions such as:

Why real-life superheroes wear masks?

What does law enforcement think of the superheroes?


Are there any real-life superheroes in Detroit?


Real Life Super Heroes
Real Life Super Heroes by Nadia Fezzani | An in-depth look at the men and women who call themselves “real-life super heroes.”Not all heroes wear capes, but some actually do.


“Another reason people are fascinated by superheroes is that perhaps many fantasize about having meaning and power in their lives. Superheroes are just plain fun and attract many for that reason alone.” —Nadia Fezzani, author of Real Life Super Heroes


Q&A with Nadia Fezzani, Author of Real Life Super Heroes

What kind of relationships do Real Life Super Heroes (RLSH) have with law enforcement?

Usually, serious Real Life Super Heroes will be accepted by local authorities. However, not all police take them seriously for various reasons, but some more notable Real Life Super Heroes are in some way approved by local police departments.


If they are doing good, why do they have to wear masks?

Just like in the comic books or movies, having their identities revealed could be viewed unfavorably by some in society. Many Real Life Super Heroes are concerned about how they would be perceived in their personal professional lives. Some Real Life Super Heroes also fear for the safety of their family if they were to face reprisals from criminals.


Are there Real Life Super Heroes in Detroit?

There were groups in the greater Michigan area, but I don’t know if they are still active. One controversial Real Life Super Hero who comes to mind is Bee Sting. A few years ago, he was charged with felonious assault and possession of body armor as a result of a confrontation regarding a supposed noise ordinance violation. He then retired as an RLSH after pleading guilty. There are others in his group who were listed in Michigan, but not specifically in Detroit.


Nadia Fezzani, author of Real Life Super Heroes| Photo courtesy Nadia Fezzani

Are RLSH people vigilantes like the Punisher?

The Real Life Superhero community emphasizes the need to operate within the limits of the law. A few Real Life Super Heroes, however, have admitted to have pushed the limits with aggression when they first started out. That is where the Real life Super Villains come in.


Are any of them trained in hand to hand or weapons combat?

Many of the Real Life Super Heroes study martial arts to build confidence and to help provide self-defense if faced with aggression. Others do not want to fight and will specialize in another field, such as first aid.


Have any Real Life Super Heroes been convicted of a crime while in costume?

A few heroes have been in the news for being arrested. A Real Life Super Hero in Detroit confronted a man with a shotgun and was arrested. Another Real Life Super Hero was arrested for getting involved in a street fight.


What is a Real Life Super Villain?

A Real Life Super Villain, unlike fictional Villains, are not specifically criminals. Some just want to have fun teasing and joking with Real Life Super Heroes, and some very much have hatred for RLSHs. Usually, they match their counterpart’s flair and have outlandish and scary costumes. They make posts, comment, criticize, some entertain with media like podcasts and videos. However, some Real Life Super Villains are downright spiteful or simply internet bullies.

Because Real Life Super Villains tease and criticize the Real Life Super Heroes, this keeps the RLSHs on their toes. In a way, the Real Life Super Villains have become a form of Internal Affairs for the Real Life Super Hero community.


Would comic book characters like Batman, Spider-man, and Wonder Woman be considered a Real Life Super Hero or Super Villain?

If heroes like Spiderman or Wonder Woman were real, they definitely would be welcomed in the Real Life Super Hero community. Batman would not be considered a Villain by any means, but his method of taking justice into his own hands with vigilanteism would not be well received by the Real Life Super Heroes who work hard to abide by local laws.

Photo credit: Eneas via / CC BY

Do Real Life Super Heroes work together as a group or individually?

Many superheroes work by themselves, but many also understand that there is strength in numbers. They often work in teams or with a partner. A few RLSHs have a significant other with whom they patrol.


Are there any women who are Real Life Super Heroes?

There are many women RLSHs. Many of them patrol with a team and are often chosen as the person to approach distressed women. However, a few patrol on their own. They might or might not fight crime directly, but will assist victims, call 9-1-1 and help in any way they can.


What made you want to write about it?

I had spent the last few years interviewing serial killers and experts in that field and studying the phenomenon. It was very dark, heavy and difficult. So, after my book on 7 Serial Killers that explains the psychology behind these killers, I needed a lighter topic. That said, superheroes might be a little lighter than Serial Killers, but there is a lot of darkness in that phenomenon as well.


ABOUT NADIA FEZZANI: Nadia Fezzani has been an investigative journalist for over fifteen years and has interviewed athletes, musicians, secret agents, bounty hunters, and serial killers during her research. She is a sought-after speaker on psychology and criminology.


You can purchase Fezzani’s book at Target here.


Feature Image: Sean Davis via / CC BY-NC




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