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A 2013 short film by director and visual effects artist Marcus Alqueres, The Flying Man ruthlessly examines and deconstructs both the Vigilante Man trope and the character of the Superman-like Übermensch.

News reports start coming in of an unidentified humanoid figure flying through the skies of an unnamed city. At first, officials and citizens are just trying to get a good look at the guy, but fascination quickly turns to horror when the figure starts attacking and brutally murdering people on the streets with terrifying displays of Super Strength. When the victims are all identified as having extensive criminal records, though, people start asking: is this justice? And do we even have a say in the matter?

You can watch The Flying Man for free on Vimeo here and on YouTube here.


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Tropes:

  • Beware the Superman: The Flying Man murders at his discretion, apparently (though never confirmed to be) as a means of 'punishing' criminals, ignores the law and the fears of the people, evidently feels no need to explain himself to a terrified world, and is by all appearances unstoppable.
  • Black and White Insanity: At best, the Flying Man is operating on this. At worst, it's Blue-and-Orange Morality.
  • Cape Punk: The film deconstructs multiple elements of superhero fiction, showing just how horrifying a Superman-esque Vigilante Man would be, particularly if he had no aversion to killing and no respect for the law. The result is an inscrutable Humanoid Abomination whose brutal executions of criminals terrify the public, who are helpless to do anything about it.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Despite his Super Strength, the Flying Man's favored tactic is grabbing criminals, flying up high, and then dropping them. At one point he drops somebody in front of an oncoming train.
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  • Dirty Cop: Rob, the gun dealer.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Or is it? Played horribly, horribly straight.
  • The Dreaded: Among those who have enough brains to fear him.
  • Even Evil Can Be Loved: Discussed at the end; the speaker in the final voice-over notes that even though the people who were killed were criminals, they nevertheless had family members who loved them.
  • The Faceless: The Flying Man is only ever shown from a distance, too far away to make out any features.
  • Flying Brick: The Flying Man demonstrates both Flight and Super Strength.
  • Genre Deconstruction: Of the Flying Brick Ubermensch-type superhero, basically looking at what would happen if Superman decided that the ends justified the means from the word go.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The results of the Flying Man dropping a criminal beneath a train are censored with Pixellation.
  • Humanoid Abomination:
    • The Flying Man is implied to be one of these. At one point it's mentioned that nobody's sure if he's wearing a grey suit or if that's his skin.
    • The few times he's very briefly seen up close, there seem to be intricate designs to his uniform/body and a texture perhaps not unlike muscle... and he doesn't seem to have a face.
  • Implacable Man: The horror of the Flying Man. He methodically hunts down and kills thirty-five criminals over the course of a week.
  • Mook Horror Show: The Flying Man is a superpowered human-shaped thing that seemingly exists solely to kill criminals. It doesn't interact with the press or anyone else on-screen, so we see it through the eyes of a hapless criminal that attracts its attention. The video has been called "Lovecraft with superheroes."
  • Only Sane Man: Mike had every reason to worry about The Flying Man. Rob, unfortunately, didn't take heed to the worries.
  • Pet the Dog: It's implied that the Flying Man let Mike live because he saw Mike's tattoo of his young son.
  • Practical Voice-Over: The Flying Man's appearance and Mike's fate are narrated via newscaster.
  • Properly Paranoid: Rob keeps telling Mike not to worry about the Flying Man. Guess who shows up and attacks them?
  • Reality Ensues: This is probably the one film that truly showcases how horrifying a Superman like being would be in real life, especially one that doesn't adhere to the strict "no killing" rule that Superman did.
  • Smash to Black: Quite literally; the scene blacks out after the protagonist's car crashes headlong into the Flying Man.
  • Superhero Horror: The Flying Man takes a near-Lovecraftian approach to superhero fiction, by showing the titular Flying Man as an entity that just showed up one day and started enforcing its own justice without anyone being able to do anything about it.
  • Superman Substitute: The Flying Man is a version Played for Horror.
  • Thou Shall Not Kill: Terrifyingly averted; unlike your average Cape or even Cowl, The Flying Man is not simply willing to murder criminals, but does so as a rule, racking up a 35 man body-count in a week.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Rob, the Dirty Cop who's dealing weapons. Sure, the Flying Man's been ruthlessly tracking down and murdering criminals for a week, but there's no way it'd happen to him, right?
  • Übermensch: The Flying Man. Whatever his motives, it's pretty clear that nobody has what it takes to stop him.
  • Vigilante Execution: The Flying Man's MO.
  • Vigilante Man: Deconstructed, where a ruthless vigilante has somehow gotten Flying Brick superpowers similar to Superman. The result is a horrifying Humanoid Abomination that brutally murders over thirty criminals in about a week, sometimes right in front of innocent civilians, simply because no one in the city has the power to stop him. Intriguingly, the ending suggests he may have a more human side to him, as he spares a small-time crook upon seeing that the man has a young child.
  • The Voiceless: The Flying Man has no lines. The only people he might speak to at all are killed soon after.
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