My teenage son and I have been discussing pop culture lately. Mainly, we’ve been chatting up how real life spices up entertainment and how different forms of entertainment feed off each other. (Books becoming movies is an example of this.)
These discussion always end up focusing on characters, and we get into lively discussions about real and fictitious people, and how they would interact with each other, or how they would react in a different setting.
My argument is usually that a hero would be heroic, no matter what setting they are put in. It is not the circumstances that make the hero, it is the inner strength they have that drives them to do the right thing.
Did Catniss need to be in the Hunger Games to be selfless? No. She was already this way. How do you think she got into those gosh-awful games to begin with?
So lets talk for a bit about my personal favourite heroes from pop culture. I’m going to list them off the top of my head, because if I have to think about it too much, then the character were probably not strong enough to stay with me for one reason or another.
So, here is my top ten list of heroes or heroines from books or movies:
Oskar Schindler from Schindler’s List: Schindler is a sentimental favorite because he really existed. Management training everywhere talks about serving your employees rather than having your employees serve them. Wow, did this guy take this to heart. Imagine really putting your life on the line in the shadow of a horrid, unfeeling totalitarian government in order to save as many lives as you can. Bravo Oskar!
#10 Grue from Despicable Me: Everyone has a soft and mushy side, right? Grue is a “despicable” man, who is softened into hero status by a few orphan girls. Talk about turning a character around!
#9 Batman: I know there is a long list of comic-book characters that I could add to this list… but they all have super powers. Batman does not have super powers. He invents things, and builds his strength for the sole purpose of fighting evil. Yes, it is all in the name of vengeance, which could be seen as a bad thing, but no one makes Batman risk his life every night. You could also say he does so out of love for his parents, who were murdered right in front of him. Such a tragic character.
#8 Harry from True Lies: All right, I will admit I am an Arnold fan. He is a great action hero. Harry was my favorite of Arnold S’s characters. Here is a guy who is a mild-mannered husband by day, and a super-spy at night. I just loved his strength, and how he worked with his reluctant wife to save the day and beat the bad guys.
#7 Ripley from the movie Alien: Being a big sci-fi person, I can’t help but add Ripley. Talk about being on the wrong space ship at the wrong time. But boy did she fight for her right to live!
#6 Harry Potter: Harry Potter is the classic rags to riches story. For as long as he remembers, he has been pushed down and treated like pond-scum by the family that raised him… only to lift himself up and save the world. I like Harry Potter because he didn’t just up and save the world one day… it took a lot of books to get him there. He became a real hero over time, and we learned to love him through his challenges.
#5 Catniss from Hunger Games: How brave is it to volunteer to most-likely be murdered just to save your little sister? Holy cow! I’m not sure I could do it, and I love my sister very much. Talk about selfless!
#4 Bryan Mills from Taken: “I can tell you I don’t have money… but what I do have are a very particular set of skills.” It is really amusing, but my 15 year old son quoted this line the other day, but he has never seen the movie. I just love Bryan Mills. Could you imagine this being your Dad? He will do absolutely anything to save his daughter. You don’t want to get on this guy’s bad side!
#3 Helen from True Lies: “I married Rambo!” I just love Jamie Lee Curtis’s portrayal of Helen. She starts out being this meek woman, and ends up a super-spy. My favorite scene is when she drops the machine gun down the stairs and screams while the weapon takes out all the bad guys. Talk about a great reluctant heroine!? And when she ends up in the limousine at the end, and gives “that look” to the villain that she is driving with… boy was I ready for Helen to take that b*tch out! This is my favourite movie of all time by the way. If you haven’t seen True Lies, and you like action, adventure, romance, chase scenes, and comedy this is the movie for you!
#2 Mr. Incredible: Super heroes by definition are heroic. But Mr. Incredible, from The Incredibles truly shows heart. Even when forced into a day-job, he still tries to help to poor old lady even though he knows he might lose his job. And the way he slumps over, defeated, when he thinks his family is dead… HEART WRENCHING! My favorite line to his wife (paraphrased): “You keep trying to start a fight with me, but I’m just happy you’re still alive.”
#1 Charly Baltimore from A long Kiss Goodnight: “Life is pain. Get used to it!” When I thought of heroes, Charly was the first person who came to mind, although I must admit that I needed to look up the name of the movie and the name of her character since this movie is pretty old. (1996 – Wow, am I dating myself? Ha!) Here is a quiet, unassuming woman who suffers from amnesia and as her memories slowly return, we find out she was a super-assassin in her past life. Although she may have been bad at one time, Charly ends up good. And I just love that closing scene, where you see her settle back into the life she is most comfortable with. Woe to any flies in that house!
So looking over this list, I suppose what I really look for in a hero is selflessness… being willing to risk your own life to save someone else, and stepping up to the plate when others cower in fear. A hero is someone believable, with faults, but who can overcome them in order to save the day.
While running through this exercise, I realized that there is probably a little bit of all these characters in my Fire in the Woods series. Jess and David are both pretty into themselves when they first meet, but they discover that they can use each other’s strengths to do great things. And in the end, they are both willing to sacrifice everything for what they believe in.
What do you look for in a great hero?
Three winners: each to get an e-Book of ASHES IN THE SKY Just tell us what you look for in a great hero! (Open Internationally).
About Jennifer M. Eaton
Jennifer M. Eaton hails from the eastern shore of the North American Continent on planet Earth. Yes, regrettably, she is human, but please don’t hold that against her. While not traipsing through the galaxy looking for specimens for her space moth collection, she lives with her wonderfully supportive husband and three energetic offspring. (And a poodle who runs the spaceport when she’s not around.)
During infrequent excursions to her home planet of Earth, Jennifer enjoys long hikes in the woods, bicycling, swimming, snorkeling, and snuggling up by the fire with a great book; but great adventures are always a short shuttle ride away.
Who knows where we’ll end up next?
About ASHES IN THE SKY
After inadvertently saving the world, eighteen-year-old Jessica Martinez is ready to put adventure behind her and settle back into the familiar routine of high school.
Though when she’s offered an opportunity to photograph the inside of an alien space ship, Jess jumps at the chance. After all, she’d be crazy to turn something like that down, right?
Spending time with David on the ship has definite advantages and the two seem to pick up right where they left off. But when Jess discovers a plot to sabotage David’s efforts to establish a new home for his people on another planet, neither David’s advanced tech nor Jess’s smarts will be able to save them.
ASHES IN THE SKY is an action-packed, romantic Sci Fi adventure that will leave readers screaming for more.