4:00 PM EST, February 16, 2011
They are part of a bizarre new nationwide phenomenon. Self-proclaimed "real-life superheroes" are patrolling the streets and making their neighborhoods safer.
There is a spate of real-life superheroes cropping up across the nation, including the Dark Guardian in New York City, Phoenix Jones in Seattle, and Knight Vigil in Tampa.
A young woman named Nyx patrols in northern New Jersey, Boston has a guy called Civitron, and someone calling himself DC's Guardian protects Washington, D.C., and there are plenty of others.
"If you have to be a little eccentric, you have to be a little eccentric," says Phoenix Jones.
Phoenix tells INSIDE EDITION his rubber costume is stab-proof and he has a bulletproof vest underneath. The outfit has other practical functions.
"I need a symbol that's readily identifiable to police that says, 'Hey, I'm not a bad guy,' and I also need to cover my identity," he explains.
Like every good superhero, Jones has a sidekick for backup. She calls herself Blue Sparrow.
The Dark Guardian is actually 26-year-old martial arts instructor Christopher Pollak. He says his costume is an attention-grabber on the streets of New York City.
"I could do everything I do in regular clothes, but I do it with my superhero persona. It helps me to reach out to people more and get out that positive message that there's a hero in everybody," explains Pollak.
But is this whole real-life superhero bit a big joke?
"It is absolutely not a prank. It's all for real, and we're going out there trying to do good," says Pollak.
The website reallifesuperheroes.com insists, "These are not 'kooks in costumes,' as they may seem at first glance." It points out that they also do things like helping the homeless.
Things can get dangerous for the amateur crime fighters. In a scene from a new documentary movie called Superheroes (superheroesthemovie.com), the Dark Guardian confronts a man he believes is a drug dealer, a guy who towers over him.
"You a cop? You better...you better have a badge, man. If you don't have a badge, don't come over here [expletive] with me, man. All right? Mind your [expletive] business, all right?" the alleged drug dealer said.
"This is my business," replied the Dark Guardian.
Despite his tough talk, the suspect left the scene.
Phoenix Jones recently had his nose broken, and was also threatened with a gun. That time he called 911.
Phoenix Jones: "Hey, I'm reporting an assault in the street. The guy tried to...said he was going to shoot me."
911 Operator: "What color clothing are you wearing?"
Phoenix Jones: "I'm wearing a gold and black rubber suit."
911 Operator: "OK, are you guys part of the Superheroes?"
Phoenix Jones: "Yes."
Seattle police aren't exactly thrilled about the whole superhero idea, and say they should leave the crime fighting to the authorities.
But Pollak shrugs off the critics. "Some people may think it's crazy but anybody I help is usually grateful. They don't care what I'm wearing," he says.
Pollak says he knows life is not a comic book and he always calls 911 when things get out of hand.
The website reallifesuperheroes.com has 53 different caped crusaders listed.