Confessions of a Superhero gives us a fascinating look at the lives of four people. These people dress up everyday as comic book characters and stand on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles posing for photos with tourists. We see their daily frustrations as some tourists decline to tip them; they aren’t allowed under the law to formally charge a fee for a photo of themselves with the tourists and that can be tough. They also have to contend with law enforcement officers making sure that they aren’t harassing people and that they’re staying on the “public area” of the sidewalk. On the other hand, one young woman who dresses up as Wonder Woman says that on a good day she can make hundreds of dollars in tips–and that’s great!
The documentary flows along nicely and it chooses to focus on the four people who dress up as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and The Hulk although there is some brief footage of a woman who dresses up every day as Marilyn Monroe and another who wears a Sesame Street Elmo costume. We get to know them as they tell their stories to the camera and we learn even more about them as we watch them interact with people on Hollywood Boulevard. These people would love to be full fledged actors making huge amounts of money in movies; but the reality is that the competition for juicy, lucrative roles is so tight that they have to stay with the work they currently do dressing up as comic book characters for photos if they want to make money doing something that makes them happy.
The person who touched me the most with their story would be Joseph McQueen who dresses up as The Hulk everyday. He’s had it rough–four years of homelessness on the streets of Los Angeles with apparently no family to send him money for even just basic shelter with a roommate. The temperature inside his costume is almost unbearable during the long hot days of summer; in one scene he tells the people playing Superman and Wonder Woman that he “blacked out” at a nearby restaurant. The heat does get to the others, too. Will he make it into a movie? Watch and find out! Another interesting story would be that of the gentleman who plays Superman. He says he’s the son of actress Sandy Dennis even though Sandy’s own brother never heard of her having any children at all! Christopher Dennis has decorated (and dedicated) his cramped apartment completely to Superman and very similar action figures prominently displays on the walls. He certainly gets emotional about playing Superman and we see how he’s tearful when Christopher Reeve passes away. We also meet his girlfriend Bonnie and watch as he enters a look-alike contest in Metropolis, Illinois–will he win? What’s in store for him and Bonnie–and his job as a character actor posing for tips on Hollywood Boulevard?
Two other people we learn so much about would be Jennifer Wenger who dresses up as Wonder Woman; her hasty marriage to a young man might not always bring them happiness. How will this work out? We see that she’s got herself a Hollywood agent and she’s trying out for commercials–will she get a break? In addition, Maxwell Allen dresses up as Batman; but when he looks for more serious work as an actor he must contend with the fact that he looks too much like George Clooney to get acting jobs. He also has an anger management problem and on one occasion he fights with other people so badly that things don’t exactly go smoothly for him.
The DVD comes with numerous extras. I particularly liked “When Bonnie Met Superman;” “Superman Loves Bo Duke” and the audio commentary with Christopher “Superman” Dennis and his wife Bonnie. Confessions of a Superhero explores the topic of what it would be like to actually grow up to be the superhero you always dreamed of when you were a kid. Are you really that type of person–or are you not? Of course, it is also about actors struggling to get themselves recognized in a market that is remarkably highly competitive.