The superhero genre has always played with the concept of vigilantism, albeit usually very lightly. Superman, Spider-Man and Batman were always thought (by some element of their own society, at least), to be renegade crazies, taking the law into their own hands. Of course, Batman actually did work with the cops consistently, and all the big ones usually fought crime with the express intent of sending wrong-doers to the police, to await a fair trial.
In this beautiful, unsettling short film, “The Flying Man,” a powerful Übermensch actually takes it upon himself to be judge, jury, and executioner. Unlike the usual underdog superheroes of comics, where the audience is meant to casually rationalize their operation outside the rule of law, we are left completely chilled as he drops people from dizzying heights to their terrifying deaths with a sadistic resolve. He is in no way the protagonist, or even an anti-hero: he’s a terrorist.
Authorities are unsure of his motives or origins, or even what metric the flying vigilante uses to judge the guilty. The people are terrified, and the “distant” cinematography lends a realistic disassociation to his terror. There are no close-ups of gore—but you don’t need them to be utterly horrified.
I love a good popcorn superhero flick, but I would love to see this completely unprecedented concept for a psychological thriller adapted to a feature-length.