In Dirty Harry, Harold Francis Callahan (Clint Eastwood) is a police detective working the case for a psychopathic serial killer calling himself Scorpio. Dirty Harry doesn’t hesitate to cross professional and ethical boundaries, dispensing his own brand of justice with his trademark .44 Magnum.
In Hancock, John Hancock (Will Smith) has superpowers like superhuman strength and the ability to fly. Working as a vigilante, his reckless actions routinely cause damage, in turn damaging Hancock’s public image. It’s no wonder he turns to the bottle.
In the Marvel comics and Netflix television series, Daredevil is the alter ego of Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox). He fights crime as a lawyer by day, and as a vigilante by night. As if that weren’t enough, The Man Without Fear — as he’s called — does this all while blind, relying on his other heightened senses.
In Defendor, Arthur Poppington (Woody Harrelson) is a mentally ill man who adopts the persona of Defendor to fight Captain Industry, who he believes to be responsible for his mother’s death, and generally to make the world a better place.
In Martin Scorsese’s movie Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is a US Marine who gets a job as a New York City cab driver. He spirals into depression due to the street crime he witnesses every night and his lack of a love life. He’s starting to get fed up, and about to take things into his own hands.
In V for Vendetta, an activist going by the name V starts a violent campaign to bring down a totalitarian government and free the people to rule for themselves. The mask he wears of the real-life Guy Fawkes has been adopted, in turn, by the real-life Anonymous and the Occupy movements.
In Unbreakable, David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is a security guard who realizes that he has super powers after he’s the only one to survive a train wreck. And like in most M. Night Shyamalan movies, his kryptonite is the most common of substances: water. His poncho reads “FSU” (for Franklin State University) in yellow letters on the front, and “Security” on the back.
After barely escaping an ambush, mafioso Sal Bertolinni (Jim Carrey) decides to leave behind his life of crime. He becomes a born-again Christian and the masked vigilante known as Colonel Stars and Stripes.
In The Boondock Saints, twins Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy McManus (Norman Reedus) become vigilantes whose mission is to rid Boston of crime. Connor has a Veritas tattoo on his left hand, while Murphy has an Aequitas one on his right. You got that straight, right?
In Watchmen, Walter Joseph Kovacs assumes the identity of Rorschach, wearing a mask with constantly morphing ink blots. He’s a ruthless vigilante that sees the world as good and evil with no shades of gray, and will punish the evil at all costs.