Los Angeles’ official nickname might be The City of Angels, but there’s no denying it’s also the city of dreams, both realized and broken. Hollywood is the place to be if you want to be famous and, more importantly, be remembered. Matt Ogden’s 2007 film Confessions of a Superhero follows four people who want to be remembered so badly they’re willing to live and work on the streets of Hollywood just to realize their dreams.
No, they’re not hookers, though they do pimp themselves on the street in a way. The subjects of this doc are the people who stand outside of Graumann’s Chinese Theater dressed as Batman, Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk and Superman to have their picture taken with tourists and garner a little bit of fame while dreaming of their big break.
The film follows Christopher Dennis, Maxwell Allen, Jennifer Gerht and Joe McQueen, four superheros by day, as they struggle to make it in a cut throat town. McQueen suffers inside his foam Hulk suit, Allen is a Batman with anger management problems, Gerht plays Wonder Woman while struggling with a failing relationship and body image issues, but Dennis is the star of the film, and the street. One of many Supermen on the strip, he is probably the most dedicated to the role, as we see when the film follows him to his home to look at his giant collection of Superman memorabilia that takes up over half his apartment. Unlike the other subjects, who are just playing the part of a superhero to get by, Dennis really identifies with his character and idolizes Christopher Reeve. Dennis claims to be the son of late actress Sandy Dennis, but her family denies any knowledge of his existence. If one were to argue he’s making up the connection just to further his career, the love of Reeve might point to the origin of the first half of his moniker.
Though, like the rest of the characters in the film, Dennis dreams of making it in Hollywood, he takes his superhero job quite seriously. There are many moments in the film of him marching up and down the strip explaining to a Ghost Rider on break that superheroes don’t smoke, and telling Marilyn Monroe that they can’t expect tips in this line of work.
Confessions of a Superhero is both hopeful and depressing. While Dennis seems to live a life full of delusions, other characters such as Gerht leave us with hope that she will at least be able to get by as a working actress and leave her alter ego behind. While documenting the lives behind the masks, Ogden’s opus uses a bizarre slice of life to show the different tolls the aim for fame can take.