A hero can either be a character who carries out good deeds, like Jack in Speed, rescuing people who are trapped on a bus with a bomb, or Billy Costigan in The Departed, working as an undercover police officer trying to bring down a crime organisation. Or they can be an underdog like Forest Gump who has gone through a tumultuous life yet still manages to come out on top. Whichever way they gain their heroic status, heroes are an important part of any film.
Here are my top 5 heroes in film:
William Munny – Unforgiven
We expect heroes to have some sort of likeable quality, something that will make audiences empathise with them. One exception to this would be Clint Eastwood’s character William Munny in the 1992 western Unforgiven. Munny is an outlaw and former mercenary who does one last ‘job’ after being in retirement for a number of years. However no matter how many people he has killed in his past and how bad tempered he is, there is no comparing him to the corrupt and merciless Sheriff Bill Doggett (Gene Hackman), who, after killing Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman), gives us all the reason we need to cheer on the ageing anti-hero and hope that he is able to avenge the death of his friend.
Rocky Balboa – Rocky
Sylvester Stallone first played Rocky in 1976, and for four more sequels he portrayed the highs and lows of the boxer’s career, showing how one man who was initially the underdog and had a small chance of being successful was able to turn his fortune around. Rocky’s heroism comes in the form of being triumphant over life’s obstacles, whether it be the death of his beloved trainer Mickey, or fighting a big Russian killing machine in the form of Ivan Drago.
Ellen Ripley – Alien
One of the best heroes or heroines in this case has to be Ellen Ripley from the Alien franchise. What ultimately makes her a great hero is not only the fact that she is a woman, but also her ability to take on the aliens on numerous occasions and still survive. Although she does kill herself in the third film knowing she has an alien inside her, she comes back again in the fourth instalment as the clone version of herself and is still able to revert back to her tough alien killing ways.
Spartacus – Spartacus
Stanley Kubrick’s epic tells the story of one of the most tragic heroes ever captured on film. Kirk Douglas stars as the eponymous character who is a slave turned gladiator, who starts a rebellion and fights for the freedom of the slaves. Unlike a lot of films this hero does not ride off into the sunset and have a typical ‘happily ever after’. Spartacus dies, but his death is not in vain, as his wife and son are no longer enslaved and are set free.
Superman – Superman
One of the most iconic and recognisable characters in cinematic history is undoubtedly Superman. Played by Christopher Reeve in 1978, Superman epitomises everything it means to be a hero. As the only survivor of the planet Krypton, Clark Kent is a clumsy unassuming journalist, but it is when he turns into the superhero we are all familiar with that we are able to really see his heroic acts.