6
Mar

The Greatest Film Heroes

In the last blog we looked at the best film villains, but in this one, we’re going to look at some film heroes and why they are heroic.

Aragorn – The Lord of The Rings

The archetype of the hero, he is kind, brave puts everyone else before himself and doesn’t want power. Pretty much ticks every box. He’s also a badass with a sword.

Madmartigan – Willow

While not as popular as George Lucas’ other creations, Willow is charming in its own way. A fantasy film set in some kind of medieval universe it charts Willow’s quest. On the way, he meets Madmartigan, played by Val Kilmer. An ace swordsman, he takes on an entire army himself and shows his softer side by looking after kids too. He plays the George Lucas signature role of cocky scoundrel brilliantly.

Spartacus – Spartacus

Set in the era of the Roman Republic, Spartacus charts the tale of a Thracian slave who was sold into a life of being a Gladiator. After a riot, the gladiator slaves escape to their freedom and elect Spartacus as their leader. Conflict with the Romans occurs as they are hunted down. By fighting he convinces the slaves to show they are human. Such is the loyalty of his men they try to protect him by all exclaiming “I am Spartacus.” Parallels with the civil rights movement in the USA are drawn, making Spartacus a film icon for heroism and freedom.

Luke Skywalker – The Last Jedi

Luke Skywalker is a character much misunderstood by the Star Wars fan base – especially if you have spent any time watching middle-aged men babies cry about “what Rian Johnson did to Star Wars” on YouTube. I am saying he is a hero in the Last Jedi and the Last Jedi only because in the original trilogy he was nothing but a whiny, stupid, arrogant young man who believes in himself too much. Ok, now I’ve lit the touch paper I will explain. In Star Wars he might have fired the proton torpedoes that took down the Death Star, but he wouldn’t have been able to take the shot unless Han Solo disabled Darth Vader’s TIE fighter. In the Empire Strikes Back Vader toys with him before he is rescued by Leia. In Return of the Jedi, he is little more than a sacrificial lamb for the Sith Lords. I still don’t know what Palpatine’s plan was for him, but I assume it was to take over from Vader. The true hero in Return of the Jedi is Darth Vader himself, who rejects the dark side of the force. To be fair he only comes around to this when he sees Luke being tortured by Vader, so Luke has his place in the story.

Now, why is he a hero in the Last Jedi? Well, he rejects the Jedi order and their teachings. He is aware of his failures and finally learns the lessons Yoda has been trying to teach him since The Empire Strikes Back., The Jedi were dogmatic fools and if they existed the Sith had to exist as well. He was acutely aware of this. When he thinks about murdering Ben Solo he is falling into exactly the same trap he falls into in The Empire Strikes Back, where he is blinded by his visions of the future. As Yoda points out “always looking to the future this one is. Never his mind on where he is, what he is doing.” – This is precisely why he was a failure until The Last Jedi. This is the film where he learns the lesson that Qui-Gon Jinn teaches in The Phantom Menace – “be mindful of the living force.” It is precisely because Luke lets go of the past and lives in the present that he becomes more powerful than Kylo Ren can possibly imagine. For me, this heroic act is the making of him as a hero. Sure, he rescues Leia a couple of times and blows up the Death Star, but in terms of his personal hero’s journey, this is where Luke Skywalker matures into a hero and sacrifices himself for the good of the Resistance/rebellion/whatever they are called now in the same way Obi-Wan Kenobi did in A New Hope.  Sorry YouTube men babies, but this is the truth – from a certain point of view.