Bruce Wayne ain’t got nothing on him: it’s Flat Man.
When the strong become weak and dreams become nightmares, superheroes rise up. It happened in Gotham, it happened in Metropolis, and it’s happening in the earthquake-ravaged city of Christchurch.
By day, Flat Man is your average student going about his daily business. By night, the anonymous superhero dons his black and red cape, climbs into his thundering souped-up V8, and rides into the darkness with Quake Kid, Flat Man’s trusty sidekick, by his side. Together they prowl the sleeping streets delivering aid packages to Canterbury’s distraught. It’s thrilling, heart warming, and nostalgic.
Flat Man first came on the scene a few months after the February earthquakes hit Christchurch.
“It purely started as an idea to help students who were staying on in the city,” Flat Man told us through an anonymous email, “and so with this in mind I went out and delivered the two very first food packages and left a note attached saying, ‘from Flat Man.’
“With a lot of people leaving Christchurch and hating on the fact that it was a broken city with nothing to do, I wanted to be a positive focus and help those that were staying.”
The concept, the persona, and the entire plan was created in less than a day. Flat Man saw a need, knew it was time to help, and wasted no time in jumping on his trusty “Flatcomputer” to search the internet for the perfect costume.
It’s true that anyone could have done that, and Flat Man knows that. In fact, that’s why he has chosen to remain anonymous.
“Being anonymous was always important to me as it meant anyone could be Flat Man. Anyone could be a masked superhero willing to step up and help others for no other reason than to help.”
Anyone can be a masked superhero, but not everyone has the persistence and benevolence that Flat Man has.
[Tweet “Flat Man: “For the first 6 months, I was paying for all the food myself.””]
“For the first 6 months, I was paying for all the food myself and doing all the deliveries in the early hours of the morning and late at night,” Flat Man told us. “It wasn’t until Campbell Live did a story [on me] that sponsors wanted to get involved.”
Up until then, Flat Man had not even contemplated the idea of getting a company’s help to further his idea, but he admits that he’s glad sponsors approached him because, with help from the likes of Stadium Cars, Pak n Save, and Countdown, he’s able to help many more people.
Sponsors make the financials easier, but it’s certainly not effortless for the superhero. Flat Man says that he occasionally questions why he does what he does as he wraps his body in insulating Lycra on the odd 30 degree day, but it’s the positive feedback he has received over the past 3 years that keeps him going.
“Hearing how you have affected a person or a family and what it means to them is really important to me. With anything, you have your days where you say to yourself, ‘Why am I doing this?’
“But once you visit the person or family or school you’re helping, it all gets put into perspective. You realise no matter how hard you think you’ve got it, someone else out there has it harder, and as people, we should be doing more for each other to make this journey in life filled with as much happiness and joy as possible.
“I once got told by a mum that her 4 yr old daughter sleeps better at night knowing there’s a superhero out there. I mean, what more motivation do I need than that?!”
[Tweet ““I once got told by a mum that her 4 yr old daughter sleeps better at night knowing there’s a superhero out there.””]
Still some, like E.V.I.L. (the Evil Villainous Iniquitous League) find fault with Flat Man. The “villainous” faction operates CHASM (Christchurch Anti Superhero Movement), which according to Accalon Rose, founder of the group, is essentially “a real-life forum for those who are tired of hearing about the endless bragging and fame-seeking of Flat Man and other future potential superheroes.” The group certainly has a light-hearted side, leaving cartoon vegetables around the city to warn superheroes of their presence. It turns out all superheroes need a nemesis!
[Tweet “Flat Man’s nemesis: the Evil Villainous Iniquitous League – people who hate Flat Man’s fame.”]
Try as they might, all the anti-superhero forces will not sway Flat Man. Retirement has come up a few times, but not any time soon, the superhero says, although he adds that there will be a day when he can no longer be Flat Man, mainly because the Lycra will be too tight.
In all seriousness, he’d like to take a background figure approach to it, and perhaps be the Flat Man godfather that quietly organises everything behind the scenes while someone else takes over the role of the masked superhero.
“I’ve also thought about the idea of having other superheroes in cities like Dunedin, Wellington, and Auckland which I could team up with from time to time,” Flat Man said.
“The day will also come when I have kids, and whether it’s a boy or girl, I think they’ll be destined on their 18th birthday to take over the role of Flat Man or Flat Girl.”
[Tweet “Flat Man about his future kids: on their 18th birthday, they’ll take over the role of Flat Man or Flat Girl.”]
“The future looks bright for Christchurch’s only superhero with a million and one ideas to help brighten up our city and fill it with as much joy as possible.”
Want to help? Be a bruv and share the luv.
Additional editing by Dominique Reed.