Following in the footsteps of Teresa Morgan, who followed in the footsteps of Sally Quilford, a post about a few of my favourite fictional heroes. Not all by any means and in no particular order, and in many cases it’s a pair or a team, as I can’t imagine one without the other or others.
The all time coolest hero – Han Solo
I was 10 when Star Wars came out – which may be the perfect age to first see it. I was never happy with the remastered versions of the first trilogy and The Phantom Menace ended things entirely for me and Star Wars. But this man remains one of the coolest fictional characters ever, possibly only rivalled by Virgil Hilts in The Great Escape.
The both in and out of his element hero – Richard Sharpe
A warrior right to his bones, who you can’t keep down no matter how much you try. A man with all the common sense of a concussed sheep in matters of the heart. A guttersnipe made up to an officer, so now he doesn’t quite fit anywhere – except on the battlefield.
Hero and sidekick – Holmes and Watson
I’ve always loved Sherlock Holmes, the stories, the novels, the movies, the TV adaptations. I’ve used the picture of the new BBC show Sherlock, which has a modern version of Holmes and which works beautifully, showing that a good character will work wherever you put him. Also, Benedict Cumberbatch is cute.
Knightly heroes – The A-Team
The show was pretty redonkulous at times. But Stephen J Cannell and the actors created characters who had something more to them than a quick glance at the show would lead people to expect. I call them knights, because they embodied many of the knightly virtues and in particular stood up for the weak and defenceless. Like with Sherlock there’s a new version set right up to date and it still works!
The reluctant hero – R.J. MacReady in The Thing
MacReady doesn’t want to be a hero. He’s gone to one of the most isolated places in the world to get away from, well, the world. But when an alien shapeshifter drops in, somebody’s gotta fire up the flamethrower. One of my favourite movies.
The realist hero – Stu Redman in The Stand
Sometimes when disaster strikes people deny it’s happening. It can’t be happening. It can’t be as bad as it seems. Someone will save us! The people who make it out of the other side are people like Stu who quickly decide, yes, this is happening, now let’s deal with it. I know there’s a miniseries of The Stand, which I own, but I’m not keen on the casting of Stu in that one. To me he looks more like a cowboy…
Both heroes – Kirk and Spock
Either is a hero in his own right. Together they make an unbeatable team. Like many long-time Trek fans I was dubious about the 2009 reboot movie. But I loved it. It was a new way to tell stories about characters I loved. Characters that still worked, even played by different actors. Like Holmes and Watson Kirk and Spock will work wherever you put them, because the characters are just that good.
Unappreciated heroes – Alexander Scott and Kelly Robinson of I Spy
Have I mentioned before that I love The Man from U.N.C.L.E.? It’s a well remembered show. I Spy was better and it deserves more attention. It was a more realistic look at the life of a secret agent than the campy fun of U.N.C.L.E. Glamour was in short supply, nasty consequences were not.
The woobie hero – Archie Kennedy
Also ensemble darkhorse and various other tropes, but goodness me, a woobie first and foremost. Valiant yet vulnerable and about 95% not canon for the Hornblower books where he has little more than a walk on part. He stole the show and paid the price. Crumpeteers still mourn.
The teabag hero – Shaun Riley of Shaun of the Dead
Just so you know this isn’t all eye candy – Shaun, from the eponymous Shaun of the Dead, an ordinary guy facing a zombie apocalypse. Why “teabag”? Because you don’t know how strong the character is until you get him in hot water. I love teabag characters.
Another time, there will be heroines!