Blog Party III: Top Five Heroes
Welcome to MCF Mansion. The banquet hall is divided up in to five sections: Television, Film, Marvel, D.C., and Animation. Bring no malice or wrongdoing in to this house, for each of the five doors will hold a different brand of justice. It's time to serve up a heaping helping of heroics!
They say police are the real heroes, ordinary men and women who risk their lives every day to protect the innocent and apprehend the guilty. I still remember when one young officer was undercover and things went horribly wrong. Shot in the face by a femme fatale, only a metal plate in his skull, an old war injury, saved him from certain death. The world believed Michael Long to be dead, but under the care of a gifted plastic surgeon funded by a dying philanthropist, he was given a new face and a second chance. The man who saved him, Wilton Knight, was convinced that “one man can make a difference”, and Michael would soon obey his dying wish. Michael Long was dead but, armed with a very special car created by his benefactor's foundation, Michael Knight would become the Knight Rider.
I loved this show when I was a kid. I used to run around the playground in elementary school, calling in to my wristwatch “I need help buddy!” whenever bullies got too aggressive. Unfortunately, not once did a black Trans Am with a cool red light ever turbo boost in to the playground. It's not K.I.T.T. that gets Knight on this list, though, not alone.
Michael Knight, as played by David Hasselhoff, was quick with his fists and suave with the ladies. I dreamed of being tall and driving a sportscar when I grew up, and of having crowds of women sigh when I drove by. Michael was as skilled a detective as he was a driver, and an intelligent car with special weapons only enhanced his natural abilities. Looking back on the DVDs I see how tongue-in-cheek and corny he was as a hero and appreciate it on a different level, but back in the ‘80s he was a role model.
Runnersup in this category include Steve Austin, Hannibal Smith(the other person I pretended to be on the playground), Jack Bauer, and Fox Mulder.
Sometimes the most extraordinary quality in a hero is that which is most ordinary. We can identify with a normal person, maybe even a kid, with no special powers or training, thrown in to a situation far outside the realm of what he or she thought possible. When we see someone like that, and see them prevail against such odds, THAT'S entertainment. Marty McFly from the Back to the Future trilogy fits the bill.
Michael J. Fox's Marty wasn't exactly a geek. He was actually pretty cool. He playing in a rock band, had a beautiful girlfriend, and was an ace skateboarder. Yet he faced many of the same problems as any teenager, from an unfulfilling home life to friction with the school principal to clashes with the school bully. One of his closest friends happened to be a bit of a mad scientist, and that's where the fun began. Stranded in the past after taking a ride in a very special DeLorean, Marty faced the shocking truth that his parents were once teenagers themselves, and had to ensure his very existence when his presence radically altered the original course of events. He managed to set things right, albeit with some differences, and with a younger version of the doctor who invented the time machine, took a dangerous chance to get home. For all he knew, the bolt of lightning he and the doc planned to harness could have fried him or blown up the car. Despite his doubts and cracking voice, Marty braved the odds and made it back to the present. He wouldn't be there long before taking a second journey in to his own future, a visit to an apocalyptic present, and finally to rescue the Doc when he was trapped in the old West.
Marty McFly was an ordinary kid who faced some extraordinary challenges, and prevailed with little more than determination and a skateboard.
Runnersup in this category include Indiana Jones, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and RoboCop.
It seems that, in a fictional hero, I look for qualities I can identify with, emulate, or both. I was a huge nerd growing up, an outcast among outcasts. I was laughed at by girls, beat up by bullies, and mocked by “friends” who put me down to elevate their own nerdly social status. This could definitely account for why I liked Spider-man in high school, college, and even now. I once scarred myself for life imitating the hero, at a time when I'd only known him from coloring books and The Electric Company.
It was when I saw Peter Parker with his Amazing Friends on Saturday morning that I really got in to the character. I dreamed of going to college and living with some cool friends with awesome powers, not to mention having an apartment furnished with secret computers and hidden exits by Tony Stark. In high school, I had a long ride home on the train, and once a week I'd go to a comic book store. The conductors took to calling me “Spider-man” because I was always reading comics on the train. In those days, Peter was married to a supermodel, living in a pretty spacious loft, going back to college for his degree, and continuing to battle crime while taking photographs of his own efforts to pay the rent. I was fortunate enough in those days to start collecting regularly just as his enemy Venom emerged from the shadows, growing that creepy mouth for the first time. These days I enjoy Spidey on the big screen, and so far they've captured the essence of the character perfectly. In Peter Parker I see traits to identify with and emulate. I might not be able to stick to walls or possess the proportionate speed, strength, and agility of a spider, but his sense of responsibility transcends his abilities. Even without his powers, he always tries to do the right thing. We may not always succeed, but we should always try.
I've also always enjoyed the jokes, the way he quips and tosses out one-liners to keep more powerful enemies off balance and cover his own fear.
Runnersup in this category include Beast, Hulk, Iron Man, and Quasar
My all-time favorite D.C. character is Batman, and it's a no-brainer. I thrilled to the exploits of the Caped Crusader as portrayed by Adam West. In third grade I went to school dressed as Robin for Halloween, only because I thought I was too young to go as Batman.
Of course, that campy portrayal was not the true Dark Knight, as I would soon discover as a collector. Tim Burton introduced the general public to the “true” Batman in 1989, and the hero remained camp-free until He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named got his hands on him. All the best elements of Bob Kane's creation came together in Batman: The Animated Series, which remains to this day one of the most flawless portrayals of the character EVER, and even paid homage to West.
It's strange that most of my examples for the character come from media outside comics, but that's a testimony to how solid he is. Why does Batman work? Bruce Wayne has no powers. He can't fly, he isn't bulletproof, and he doesn't stick to walls. He was orphaned at a young age and became driven. There was no special serum or magic word. He TRAINED and he STUDIED and he made himself a peak human being in mind and body, on willpower alone. He stands tall beside Kryptonians and Amazons and Martians. He is vengeance. He is the night. He is BATMAN.
Runnersup in this category include Nightwing, Superman, The Flash, and The Metal Men.
It's been several years now, so I have no problem getting the spoiler out of the way up front: my favorite animated hero is dead. People who know me may assume that can mean only one thing, but I'm not talking about someone who came back. I'm talking about someone who made the ultimate, permanent, sacrifice for the greater good, who wasn't all that heroic to start with. I'm talking about Dinobot from Beast Wars.
Dinobot began the Beast Wars on the wrong side, as one of the villainous Predacons who'd fled their home planet of Cybertron with a stolen golden disk, pursued by the heroic Maximals. While his fellow Predacons fought for personal conquest and glory, he fought for honor, unhappy with the tenuous peace between the two sides and craving battle. Upon crashing on a mysterious planet that he thought was not their intended destination, he criticized his leader and was ousted from the group. With no where to turn he challenged the Maximal leader Optimus Primal to a duel in a attempt to take over their faction and lead them against his former allies. He lost that battle, Primal saving his life in the process, and he agreed to serve under him. The other Maximals were skeptical and distrusting, but he was bound by honor.
Over the course of the series there were many clashes between the peaceful Maximals and this ferocious warrior. His loyalty was constantly questioned by the Maximal Rattrap, and the pair were always at odds. On one occasion Dinobot did betray the Maximals and returned the golden disk to the Predacon leader Megatron after stealing it and keeping it hidden from both sides. The Maximals took him back, but he was greatly shaken by his actions. He began to question what his honor really meant, and if he could go on fighting after such an error in judgment.
In the immortal episode Code of Hero, Dinobot finally learns what's on the disk as well as the location of the planet on which they have been marooned. The factions had traveled through time as well as space, and were on prehistoric Earth at a time when their ancestors lay dormant in a volcano after a similar crash. Worse, the disk held vital information about the Earth's development, including the location of a valley from which the human race was destined to emerge. As Megatron called upon his forces to slay the prehistoric humans and wipe them from existence, Dinobot called in the crisis to his Maximal friends. Realizing they would not get there in time, he drew his sword and charged in to battle, a lone warrior facing certain death. He managed to defeat every Predacon except for Megatron, and stood badly damaged from battle as his former commander held a primitive human in jeopardy. Megatron mocked him, asking what he could possibly do, and through gritted teeth Dinobot hissed “Immproviiisse!” as he grabbed a stick, slammed it on to a rock making a makeshift hammer, and smashed Megatron aside. Grabbing the golden disk, he summoned the last of his dwindling energy for one final optic blast, shattering it as he fell to the ground.
At this point, the Maximal reinforcements arrived and chased off Megatron, gathering at the side of their dying teammate. Even Rattrap was moved by the sacrifice, and told Dinobot that he always knew where he stood with them. Dinobot's dying words were not those of a glory-seeking warrior, or someone who had glossed over the sins of his past. “Tell my tale to those who ask. Tell it truly—the ill deeds along with the good—and let me be judged accordingly. The rest...is silence.” As his spark, the machine equivalent of a soul, left his body and floated upward, Rattrap let his limp hand fall, stood, and saluted. Optimus Primal's words sum up why he's on this list: “He lived a warrior, and died a hero.”
Runnersup in this category include Optimus Prime, He-Man, Lion-O, Bumblebee
Well, now that crime has effectively been wiped out, what is there for a hero to do? I'm sure a few will fight with each other over some contrived misunderstanding, and sooner or later there will be a spinoff blog party in which a new threat arises. After all, we haven't seen any villainesses around these parts, now have we? Hope you enjoyed yourselves; I'm off to your places to see what forces of good have assembled...
Labels: Blog Party