The 5 Most Spectacularly Failed Attempts at Heroism

Some people want to be heroes a little too much.
The 5 Most Spectacularly Failed Attempts at Heroism

Deep down, we all want to be heroes. Not a single one of us hasn't imagined a scenario wherein some grave injustice is being committed and we burst through the door in a whirlwind of face-punching, baby-rescuing fury to set things right. However, some people want to be heroes a little too much and end up forcing their assistance into situations where it is neither wanted nor appreciated.

A Man Mistakes a Porno for Sexual Assault, Comes to the Rescue

The 5 Most Spectacularly Failed Attempts at Heroism

James Van Iveren was minding his own business in the apartment he shares with his mother when he heard the telltale sounds of a woman being attacked coming from the floor above him. Luckily, every action movie from the early '90s had taught him precisely what to do in this situation -- Van Iveren grabbed his cavalry sword (evidently he used to be a soldier in the 19th century) and went blazing upstairs to kick in the door of his neighbor's apartment and rescue the distressed woman. After all, justice won't wait, fortune favors the bold, and he couldn't call the police because he didn't own a functioning telephone.

The 5 Most Spectacularly Failed Attempts at Heroism
Wikimedia Commons

Rescuing damsels in distress is more of a Mountie thing anyway.

So, he exploded through the locked door of Bret Stieghorst's apartment, brandishing an antique but still very stab-worthy sword, to discover that there was nobody there but Stieghorst. The man had simply been watching some thunderously loud pornography, and Van Iveren had mistaken the cries of a furious prerecorded orgasm for the desperate pleas of a woman in danger. The only thing being assaulted in Stieghorst's apartment was his penis.

The 5 Most Spectacularly Failed Attempts at Heroism

How much volume do you really need for porn?

However, Van Iveren was brimming with too much avenging gallantry to immediately accept his mistake. He stood his ground and refused to leave until Stieghorst showed him every room in the apartment to prove that it was indeed empty and then played the clip from the porno DVD that had triggered Van Iveren's spider sense in the first place to prove that it was in fact a porno he had heard.

The 5 Most Spectacularly Failed Attempts at Heroism

"Now step out of the room for, like, 10 minutes or I'm calling the police."

In many ways, we appreciate Van Iveren's brash decision (because what if someone really had been in trouble?), but imagine sitting in your apartment trying to blast one out to Sex Yodelers 14 when some crazy-eyed moon beast suddenly dropkicks the lock off of your door and comes barreling in waving a Civil War relic like the time-traveling morality police. You would never masturbate again. And quite frankly, that is not a world any of us are prepared to live in.

A Superhero Maces a Bunch of Dancers

The 5 Most Spectacularly Failed Attempts at Heroism
Wikimedia Commons

In case you haven't already heard of him, meet Phoenix Jones, Guardian of Seattle, who invested heavily in the Batman Forever style of presculpted flex armor on his quest to rid northwestern America of villainy.

The 5 Most Spectacularly Failed Attempts at Heroism

Phoenix Jones is about as close to an actual superhero as we're ever going to get. He wears a costume, he fights crime, and he formed his own dime store Justice League called the Rain City Superhero Movement (also known as RCSM, which is only a few vowels away from "RACISM," which is Phoenix Jones' archnemesis). Basically, he runs around the streets of Seattle, doing his best to terrify the rape and mugging out of every outlaw he sees.

Phoenix was out on patrol one evening when he stumbled upon a group of people locked in a violent brawl. Summoning every ounce of his superhero training, Phoenix sprang into action, sprinting full-tilt toward the angry mob to unleash a stinging cloud of pepper spray like a cat dousing a new futon with a mist of spiteful urine. The unruly crowd was quickly pacified, nobody was seriously injured, and Phoenix had succeeded in protecting the citizens of Seattle from their worst enemy -- themselves.

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AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

He could probably take his mask off and just sing Kid 'n Play songs to defuse any confrontation.

... is what we would have said had that group of people actually been locked in a brutal gangland fistfight. What they were really doing was dancing. As in engaging in the rhythmic expression of emotion via bodily movement accompanied by music. And Phoenix Jones Maced the shit out of them.

See, it was a group of friends walking to their car on their way home from a nightclub, being loud and dancing around and causing a bit of a scene -- you know, things people do when they're enjoying each other's company. Phoenix saw the playful commotion and mistook it for a street gang powder keg on the verge of brass-knuckled, jawbone-powdering detonation, so he came speeding over on the falcon wings of justice to blind every single one of them before any serious harm was done.

The 5 Most Spectacularly Failed Attempts at Heroism

Stand back -- this could turn violent at any second.

Phoenix was arrested and unmasked on live television, which as we all know is a crippling blow for a superhero. In addition, he was fired from his day job as a life skills instructor for autistic children and received an official letter from the Department of Social Services banning him from ever working with children again. Yeah, that's ... a little different from how it plays out in the movies.

A Man Saves Some Kids from a Shark, Loses His Job

The 5 Most Spectacularly Failed Attempts at Heroism

According to this news report narrated by British Jessica Rabbit, a man named Paul Marshallsea was vacationing on a beach in Queensland, Australia, when a 6-foot shark came swimming drunkenly into the shallows like it had forgotten where its car was parked. Marshallsea decided that the beast was getting too close to a group of children playing in the water, and rather than do the sensible thing and get the kids out onto the beach, he strolled into the waves to drag the shark the fuck back out to sea.

Via Youtube

So, a 62-year-old man strode purposefully into the ocean to put himself between a bunch of kids and a man-sized murderfish, grundle-punched the shark back out into the East Australian Current, and got put all over the international news as a result. And his name is Paul freaking Marshallsea. It's like he was born to police the ocean. All in all, it seems like it was a thoroughly badass vacation.

The 5 Most Spectacularly Failed Attempts at Heroism

"Next year I'm thinking we go to Africa and assault every character from The Lion King."

Except Paul Marshallsea wasn't on vacation. He was on sick leave. And when the video of his daring shark battle went viral, footage of his globe-trotting exploits made it back to his employers, who could see that he was most certainly not sick, unless he had come down with a fierce case of sharkpunchitis. So they did what any self-respecting organization would do when catching one of their employees in a lie and fired the shit out of him. From Marshallsea's official termination letter:

"Whilst unfit to work you were well enough to travel to Australia and, according to recent news footage of yourself in Queensland, you allegedly grabbed a shark by the tail and narrowly missed being bitten by quickly jumping out of the way."

They claimed that his international shark wrangling was a serious breach in trust and dismissed him, offering him no congratulatory remarks for his heroics or any COBRA contact information to make sure the medical coverage on his giant iron balls didn't lapse. We're amazed they didn't end the paragraph with "Nice try, dickhead. Next time, let those kids get eaten."

The 5 Most Spectacularly Failed Attempts at Heroism

"Don't forget to put on your 'sunscreen' before you get in the water, kids!"

A Father Mistakes a Random Guy for a Bike Thief, Runs Him Over

The 5 Most Spectacularly Failed Attempts at Heroism
Wikimedia Commons

Timothy Hombs came home one day to learn that his son's bike had been stolen by one or many lawless brigands. So Hombs climbed into his minivan, the most masculine vehicle in the county, and set out to find any suspicious-looking persons riding a bicycle against its will (we assume that's what he was looking for, because otherwise there is literally no way to tell if a person is riding a stolen bicycle unless someone is chasing after them shouting "Help, they've stolen my bicycle"). Against all odds, Hombs spotted a man riding his son's missing bike, so he did what any father would do and rammed the guy with his Dodge fucking Caravan.

Except, as you may have guessed, it wasn't his son's bike. It was just some guy minding his own business, out enjoying a leisurely ride on a bicycle that looked like the one stolen from Hombs' son.


Those guys at Huffy sure do know how to make you feel like one in a million.

This realization hadn't made its way through the blinding justice tornado swirling in Hombs' brain, and he climbed out of the minivan to further assault the injured cyclist (who, as we mentioned, was guilty of absolutely nothing). The cyclist, assuming he had been marked for death by some master assassin on his way to pick a bunch of kids up from soccer practice, responded by punching Hombs directly in the face.

The 5 Most Spectacularly Failed Attempts at Heroism

"... and learn to share the road! Cyclists have a right to be here, too!"

Unsurprisingly, the police showed up and arrested the shit out of Hombs for second-degree assault, although luckily neither he nor the cyclist he bushwhacked were seriously injured. Meanwhile, Hombs' son can forever be secure in the knowledge that his dad can't win a fistfight against someone who was just run over by a two-ton hatchback.

People Are Dressing Up Like Batman, Getting Arrested

The 5 Most Spectacularly Failed Attempts at Heroism
DC Comics,

After being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army, Matthew Argintar found that the soul of a warrior yearning to serve his community was still burning inside him. So, he decided to spread hope the only way his advanced military training had taught him how -- by putting on a Batman costume and loitering in the parking lot of a Home Depot. And by "Batman costume," we mean "disenfranchised soldier with a bat painted on his face."

The 5 Most Spectacularly Failed Attempts at Heroism

Good Bat logo, but the elbow pads aren't exactly canon.

Argintar donned his crime-fighting garb and took to the mean streets of the Home Depot parking lot to ask shoppers whether or not they needed any superheroic assistance. It is unclear why he decided that Home Depot was the ideal spot to wage his one-man war against crime, or why he failed to realize that most people don't need Batman's help to buy a ceiling fan and trimmer line on a weekday afternoon. It also didn't help that he looked like he was dressed like Expatriated Batman less than two months after the Aurora massacre. This encouraged several people to call the police, who then showed up and arrested Argintar on charges of disorderly conduct and illegal possession of handcuffs.

Strangely, Argintar is not the only self-made Batman to run afoul of the law. According to the official Facebook page of Mark Williams, he dresses up like Batman on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and sets out from the Batcave within His-Mom's-House Manor to patrol the mean streets of Petoskey, Michigan. No part of that sentence was made up.

The 5 Most Spectacularly Failed Attempts at Heroism
Via CBS Detroit/Petoskey Department of Public Safety

To be fair, pit stains and a Count Chocula symbol do send a strong message to the community.

Williams has been arrested twice, and if his Facebook status is current, he is in jail as we speak. He initially got busted back in 2011 for crawling around the rooftop of a local business, carrying a can of Mace and a baton (or Bat-on, depending on which era Batman he is attempting to emulate). The following year, Williams decided to follow a couple of cops around while they investigated a hit and run to help them interview witnesses and gather evidence. The police eventually got sick of him (because nothing says "official police investigation" like a mildly overweight man-child lumbering through the darkness behind your squad car in a pair of hellaciously sweaty Batman pajamas), so they arrested him for obstruction and interfering with an investigation. Fortunately for Williams, his partner/girlfriend Batgirl can pick up the slack during his probation.

Related Reading: Real-life heroes tend to be crazy. It isn't their fault -- eccentric people take more risks. But volunteer heroes aren't always losers. Some regular people are more than capable of outdoing Batman. Just ask the hobo who delivered a baby, or the Japanese scuba diver who rescued tsunami victims. And before you get down on our everyday saviors, remember how much movie heroism is based purely on luck.

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