So which fictional vigilante hero would be plausible?

If Batman was implausible to begin with and since has become ridiculously plot-armored to the point where he bitch-slaps superpowered alien invaders, then which fictional heroes represent something close(r) to reality?

Green Arrow? Almost, except they made him impossibly good with a bow.

The Punisher? Maybe, except I simply can’t see him surviving more than a couple of months tops.

So which hero is smart and tough, but not impossibly so?

With massive updating the Green Hornet might be acceptable.

He could be Britt Reid, wealthy young social media titan who by day bitch-slaps Congress for trying to control his site’s content, and by night infiltrates the underworld with the help of his wise-cracking Asian sidekick Kato.

He would tool around in a Tesla called Driverless Beauty.

Iron Man is really just extremely advanced technology. I doubt we could ever realistically make a suit as durable and compact, but we could possibly create a reasonable facsimile at some point in the future. The biggest obstacles would be power and some kind of (probably impossible) protection from extreme physical forces.

I think the closest we could get would probably not involve a human being on the inside but rather I’m imagining some kind of virtual reality remote control setup. That seems to be the way the military is thinking for the future anyways.

None? I mean…they’re super-heroes. They’re all unrealistic.

The Punisher is about as “realistic” as it gets, but, as you say, it’s fantastically unlikely he’d survive more than a couple of months. Batman’s got nothing on the Punisher’s plot armor. He’s also got an infallible ability to identify criminals - Ghost Rider’s got nothing on him there. He literally never kills the wrong person. Innocent people don’t even ever get caught up in the crossfire, or hit by a stray round, or a ricochet, or a round that over-penetrated, or…

There have been throwaway vigilante characters in various “deconstructed” super-hero stories who get themselves killed almost immediately. That’s probably about as “realistic” as you’re going to get.

In the real world, no amount of training and gear makes you invulnerable. You can make the optimal decision in every single situation, and still get killed by dumb luck.

And literally every “normal” vigilante has completely unrealistic skills and abilities, because they’re not real vigilantes, they’re action heroes. If you rule out Green Arrow for being unrealistically good with a bow, no one is realistic.

With all of that being said…

Maybe Oracle? Barbara Gordon, in the continuity where she was paralyzed from the waist down and retired her Batgirl identity, became a computer hacker who aided and guided other heroes remotely. Of course, computer hacking doesn’t actually work like it does in the comics, but the basic idea of a computer hacker who uncovers wrongdoing and anonymously guides others to take down the bad guys is at least vaguely plausible, and to some extent actually happens in the real world.

Remo Williams. CURE was always “under the radar” and the training Chiun gave him was “peak human,” not “superhuman.” Think Cap but with a much different moral code.

I’m not that familiar with him, but how about The Spirit? A police detective who was thought to have died and now operates underground with the tacit approval of the police commissioner.

Here’s an example of The Brief Career of a Would-Be Supervillain

Matt Wagner’s take on DOCTOR MID-NITE was pretty conflict-averse: he tips off the authorities whenever possible — sometimes about things he’s personally witnessed, sometimes after planting surveillance gear — just like he tips off the local street gang when a crime syndicate is bent on making its way in, and just like he mundanely solves some problems with medical know-how and some with, well, money. (Since it’s a comic book, said know-how and said money admittedly combine to help his interrogation skills along whenever he can pump the occasional crook full of drugs; and he’s got other ‘chemist’ tricks up his sleeve, from smoke bombs and blinding-flash stuff to high-powered explosives. But underneath all of that is a guy who isn’t really looking for a fight.)

Zorro? Aside from the huge plot holes in the original/standard versions of the story.

Mr. A is a vigilante sans any superpowers or hi-tech who uses Objectivist principles to justify his vigilantism.

https://web.archive.org/web/20090107114313/http://www.vicsage.com/misc/mistera.php

Surely, the Phantom is the most believable vigilante good guy.

Unlike many other superheroes, the Phantom has no superpowers; he totally relies on his strength, intelligence and the myth of his immortality to take action against the forces of evil. The 21st Phantom is married to Diana Palmer; they met while he studied in the United States and they have two children, Kit and Heloise. He has a trained wolf named Devil and a horse named Hero, and like the 20 previous Phantoms he lives in the ancient Skull Cave.

One thing that always bothers me about these “normal person by day, hero by night” types - at some point they actually need to sleep. Bruce Wayne gets away with it by being a rich playboy who is expected to sleep until noon, but the rest of them seem to forget about this.

Will Eisner’s version of the Spirit. He was basically just a guy in a mask. He did have an ability to get beat up and survive, but not to implausible levels, and most of his stories don’t involve fights. Given that his adventures were usually eight pages, there wasn’t a lot of room for fight scenes, especially since Eisner’s stories had a lot of depth to them.

The Spirit never used his secret identity and was the Spirit almost all the time.

Assuming the question isn’t restricted to comic book superheroes, how about the Scarlet Pimpernel? Basically just a super-smart master of disguise with an unassuming alter-ego who repeatedly outwits the French revolutionaries.

I guess it could be debated whether or not he is actually a “vigilante”.

Depends on who ask. Citizen Chauvelin would have a definite opinion on that.

Note that the Pimpernel definitely had a superpower – the ability to fall asleep anywhere at anytime. Indeed, Chauvelin nearly defeated him one by not allowing him to sleep. :slight_smile:

I don’t want to threadshit, but…

OP explicitly ruled out Batman, Green Arrow, and the Punisher as being unrealisticly competent and lucky. What we’ve gotten so far in this thread is almost entirely characters pitched at the same level, if not even less realistic. I could sit here all day listing costumed vigilantes that technically, within the rules of their fictional worlds, don’t have super-powers, but that doesn’t seem to be what OP was after.

Of all the fictional characters suggested so far, I think the Will Eisner’s The Spirit is probably the best one. He’s basically just a noir detective who happens to wear a mask. The basic idea of a former police detective who maintains contacts in the department and cracks cases that the police haven’t through sheer dogged determination is fairly realistic. It even happens in real life on occasion.

Of course, he still has formidable “plot armor”, and a superhuman ability to withstand repeated blows to the head without developing CTE. And he doesn’t just crack a couple of cases - he constantly solves crimes that the police seem unable to, but at least that’s not physically impossible.

The Spirit really took the silly notion that a domino mask could conceal your identity to the extreme.

Here’s a real stretch for you: Professor Abraham van Helsing.

Not being able to involve the police is practically the definition of vigilante (think Carl Kolchak) and the authorities are not going to stand by and watch AvH pound a stake into a person. He is totally knowledgeable of his nemesis but would probably have to advertise on the Dark Web to secure “bookings.” Plus – as Gyrate points out – he’d be able to sleep at night, needing daylight to search for and vanquish his quarry. And he could work on the barter system – “My fee for disposink of Count Cuspid is one (1) paprika chicken.”

Joe Mannix had that same power!

Hmmm…Joe mannix, Superhero. I like it. He already had a cool car.

Robin Hood? I mean in the modern world he’d be a hacker, but stealing from tax dodging multinational corporations and supplying the poor with charity donations through a Doctors Without Borders or some such seems plausible.

Notoriety would be wanting, of course, this plan only works if no one learns it’s happening and that was a big part of Mr. The Hood’s schtick.