If you haven’t seen the 2007 film Super Amigos let me strongly recommend checking it out. It is a must see for anyone interested in the real life superhero movement. Not only is it incredibly though-provoking but it has also provided me with a critical piece of information for my Dragon*Con presentation. That being said, I most admit that from an artist stand point I have some issues with the documentary.
As you can see, the film follows five masked activists, each championing a different social cause in Mexico City. Ecologista Universal hands out citations and stages one-man protests for environmental causes. Super Animal’s primary concern is the end of the barbaric bullfights that take place regularly in Mexico. He gathers signatures for petitions, dumps slaughtered bits of bull carcasses on the steps of city hall, and challenges the cowardly bullfighters to face him in the area. Super Barrio is a particularly interesting RLSH who seeks to protect the victims of gentrification. The ordained priest Fray Tormenta funds an orphanage with money he makes from wrestling. Finally there is Super Gay. He organizes gay friendly activities and pride parades as a form of social activism. He also provides counseling to victims of gay-bashing and their families. There is a particularity gut-wrenching scene where Super Gay counsels a woman whose son has been brutally beaten to death and sexually assaulted because of his homosexuality.
It is moments like this when the film truly shines. Despite the spandex, masks, and capes there are some truly sincere and heartbreaking moments in this film. My only real problem with it is that Super Amigos switches between these kind of very real, very human story and cheesy animated origin stories. This animation ranges from mildly corny to down right inappropriate. The animated segment of Super Gay’s origins is especially disrespectful. On the way home from a club a gay couple is attacked, beaten, and left in the streets. One man dies. The other dedicates his life to fight for equality as Super Gay. This is not a story appropriate for the cartoon-like animation they have chosen. It presents a brutal murder in a flippant way.
I don’t want to give the impression that I dislike this film. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I just wished that certain parts would have been handled more respectfully. When presenting grown men running around in tights there is no need to try to force absurdity.
As for my research, I said that I would further discuss the social wrestler movement. After careful consideration I have decided not to pursue that area of research much further than I already have. Social wrestlers use the same methods and fight for the same ends as RLSHs. I cannot in good conscience declare that they are outside of the movement simply because their inspiration comes from lucha libre rather than superhero comics. Additionally it should be noted that lucha libre has been a part of many forms of pop culture including comics.
Super Amigos is currently streaming on Hulu for free. Go check it out and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear another perspective on it.