A few hours before the premiere of the newest Batman movie Thursday night, netizens saw the rise the of a new hero—the one the Internet needs. Or the one it deserves. (Or maybe both. We’re not exactly sure how that phrase is supposed to work.)

Either way, the Internet Defense League shone its “cat signal”—yes, like the Bat-Signal—for the first but probably not the last time onto a building in New York City, near Chinatown. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the digital advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation shone their own cat signal. Surprisingly, Ulan Bator, Mongolia, was scheduled to shine one in solidarity, IDL official organizer Holmes Wilson told the Daily Dot.

“One of our first Internet Defense League members and donors is in Mongolia,” explained IDL spokesperson Tiffiniy Cheng via email. That one, at the Lotus Children's Center, was “way more low tech, as you can imagine,” she said.

The IDL was born of a simple idea: In January, when some of the most popular sites on the Web all went on strike the same day to protest the detested Stop Online Piracy and Protect IP Acts (SOPA and PIPA), it worked. Congress permanently shelved those bills.

The next time there’s a major call for action to defend the Internet, the League will shine that cat signal as something of a mascot, as all the league’s sites—which include Reddit, Wordpress, the Cheezburger Network, and Fark, plus anyone else who wants to join—will go on a similar strike, together.

“I love the metaphor that we all have to be Batman and Batwoman for our respective Gothams,” Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, a founding member of the IDL, announced in an opening speech.

“I hope that we never have to use it. I’m not that naive to think we won’t, but that’s the goal,” he said.

Photo by Kevin Collier