What makes a Hero?
A hero is someone that inspires hope. A hero stands in contrast to a villain, who inspires hopelessness. Villains are explored in a previous post.
Based on this simple definition, the hero type can be broken down into several categories. This post contains short videos that I believe demonstrate the aspects of heroism that I look for in my characters.
There are many real-life examples of heroes. This post is limited to fictional heroes and heroic qualities that I find inspiring.
These everyday heroes may not change the world, but they can change your world.
Consider Kermit the Frog in The Muppet Movie (1978). All he wants is to follow his dream to sing and dance and make people happy. Through his simple actions, he inspires all of the muppets to follow their dreams, stand up to bad guys, and be the muppets they were born to be.
These heroes inspire me every time that I watch The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In the final battle, Peter is knocked down into the path of the advancing enemy. Knowing their lives are the cost of loyalty, this courageous rhinoceros and centaur charge past King Peter (much to his dismay) and attack the White Witch’s army. Watch the 30-second video and see if you don’t feel a twinge of self-sacrificing bravery yourself.
The Little Guy
Rocky Balboa went the distance, even when he was the only one that believed in him. In this scene, at the end of Rocky 1, the match is nearly over. Apollo Creed knocks Rocky down with a huge uppercut. Rocky goes to the mat. As the referee is counting, Rocky’s manager even tells him to stay down, but Rocky fights his way to his feet.
Ultimately, Rocky loses the match in a split decision, but for him it was not about winning, it was about going the distance. It was about proving that he was someone who could stand with giants.
Rocky is consistently ranked as one of the most inspirational movies of all time.
Try as he might, the bumbler just can’t do things right. Nevertheless, their efforts inspire others to hope and to do better, even in spite of the difficulties.
Anne Shirley, in the story (books and movies), “Anne of Green Gables”, displays many strong-willed tendencies. She is a dreamer, and she is a firebrand. She is one of the brightest stars in the small school. However, her uncommon tenacity and her quick tongue get her in regular trouble, and she flubs nearly everything she does – at the start. As she goes on, she accomplishes her goals and inspires those around her.
Red Skelton made a lifetime of being America’s favorite clown. He is one of my favorite actors. In all of his movies he plays the good-hearted bumbler. “The Fuller Brush Man” (clip below) is one of my favorite movies.
Red entertained for the love of entertaining. He was a clown who loved his role. In all that he did, he kept his routine family friendly. His movies are always safe for children. I believe that his best roles were the down-on-his-luck bumbler with a heart of gold.
The Super Hero
This hero is practically perfect in every way, and gives others hope by simply doing what they do. In the course of a story, the super hero doesn’t change, but those around them do.
How to make a hero
You don’t actually believe that you can have a hero without a sandwich? All heroes need sandwiches, because all heroes inspire hope in others, and inspiring hope works up an appetite.
Fill your life with heroic thoughts and examples. You can find these on television, movies, books, and more (even real life!). As you give heroes place in your mind, they will guide you through the day. If there is a problem to solve, they know how to solve it. Listen.
Movies that I like to help me recharge my own internal hero:
- The Incredibles
- The Fuller Brush Man
- Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
- Unsinkable Molly Brown
- The Muppet Movie
- The Court Jester
- Meet the Robinsons
What aspects of a hero speak to you? Leave comments and thoughts below.
As always, heroes live in the Hidden History of Oz series. Follow their adventures and let them inspire your imagination to heroic deeds.