Top Ten Movie Heroes

A very long time ago I posted my list of Top Ten Movie Villains. I love a good villain and a great villain almost always makes for a great movie. Just recently, I posted my Top Ten Movie Antiheroes and I’ll certainly I’ll edit those lists as I see fit, but before that I decided this was a list I had to make. Heroes are the kind of characters you love to see prevail because they do the right things when the right things need to be done.

Like many lists, this was a difficult one to come to a conclusion to. First off, I didn’t exactly know how to go about this list. Should I judge the heroes based on how much I personally enjoy the character or should I judge the heroes based on their intentions as a hero. I ultimately chose to make a list with both of those ideas in the back of my mind and this is the result.

10. Driver

Nicolas Winding Refn’s masterpiece is an allegory of the events and relationships that can drive a person to do the things they do. The nameless hero at the films core is a true hero and one for the ages. He’s mysterious, charming and most of the time he needs no words. He simply puts himself in danger for the people he cares about. Ryan Gosling plays the character masterfully.

9. Rooster Cogburn

One of my favorite genres in film is the western. In terms of the western genre most of the time the protagonists of the story can be considered antiheroes especially in my favorite Clint Eastwood westerns. You’ll find one of my favorite western heroes in the Coen Bros. masterpiece, True Grit. Jeff Bridges just may have given the greatest performance of his career as the alcohol chugging, foul-mouthed, trigger happy U.S. Marshall Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn.

8. Catwoman

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The Dark Knight Rises tells the perfect story it does because it’s made up of so many rich and meaningful characters. I love the part that Catwoman plays in the war that transpires between Batman and Bane. You never know what to expect from her. By the end she’s right where she belongs in this epic. Catwoman fits right in the middle between Batman and Bane in this story of hope. It’s a little reminiscent of the part Harvey Dent played in The Dark Knight only this time with more inspiring results. By the end, Catwoman can’t run away and fight what she truly is, a hero.

7. Sanjuro

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Sanjuro simply epitomizes the idea of a lone warrior and wandering samurai. Sanjuro is an enigma, but it’s hard not immediately side with him as he causes chaos in a village ruled by rival gangs. The clever ronin pits the two gangs against each other and the result is intense and completely enjoyable. Sanjuro is a cool, level-headed and wise samurai. He can’t be rattled and if he draws his sword with intent to kill then death is inevitable. He’s one of if not the most iconic samurai in film and he’s one of the greatest heroes to boot.

6. Gandalf

The Lord of the Rings tells one of the greatest stories in all of film and in said story there are many characters you can’t help but despise and many characters you can’t help but love. My favorite character in all of Middle-Earth is the great wizard, Gandalf. Where as some may argue that the shoes of the hero are filled more by Aragorn, Frodo or Sam I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with you. However, the wise and powerful Gandalf is a hero on all accounts and he’s my favorite character in the tale so making this list with out him would be a sin. If you want a true showcasing of heroism just watch Gandalf battle the Balrog in the Mines of Moria.

5. R. P. McMurphy

At the heart of the masterpiece, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, is a beautifully woven relationship between a hero and a villain. The power-hungry establishment is personified in my most hated villain (in a good way) ever put on screen, Nurse Ratched. The rebellion to think and act freely is led by one of the greatest heroes put on screen. Jack Nicholson gives his career-best performance as Randall Patrick McMurphy. The character is unbelievably likable regardless of his crazy antics. No matter the case, he has respect for the people that deserve it and though it may mean he stays in the looney bin forever, he’ll take a stand and do the right thing when no one else will. R. P. McMurphy is a truly magnificent character and one the greatest heroes in film.

4. James Bond

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James Bond is one of, if not the most, iconic character in existence. He is the definitive secret agent and he is an awesome movie character. My favorite incarnation is Daniel Craig. He takes the realistic world he’s been presented and dances circles around it. He’s a dutiful hero and a reactionary. His charm and charisma are second to none. Never was James Bond more masterfully explored than in Sam Mendes’ Skyfall. Not only are Bond’s roots examined, in the same film he meets his match. James Bond always has his fun with women and his drinks that are shaken rather than stirred, but at the end of the day he does his duty as secret agent, 007.

3. Kikuchiyo

Kikuchiyo

If you’re looking for heroism in film, look no further than 1954 and you’ll find a gorgeous masterpiece entitled Seven Samurai. Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai tells the tale of seven brave warriors who join forces to protect a village of farmers from bandits. My favorite samurai I’ve had the pleasure to meet through film is the seventh samurai, the clown, the triangle, Kikuchiyo. Toshirô Mufine is the only actor that makes the list twice and how could he not? The man is a delight to watch every single second he embodied Kikuchiyo. He was a confident master of the sword and seemingly he’s also a bit of a buffoon, why not have fun? He was an odd one as the other six samurai point out, but aren’t we all.

2. Django

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He’s a freed slave, he’s a bounty hunter, he’s a vengeful gunslinger, but most of all Django is a hero. He’s a courageous and benevolent force driven by love. His journey is an epic one, the story is gorgeous and Django is a character you feel the need to root for. He’s the fastest gun in the south and nothing will stand in the way of him and the woman he loves. Django is the epitome of a badass and his heroism is the stuff of legend. The character is defined and portrayed flawlessly. Django Unchained is a wild and eloquent excursion into southern slavery in the form of a spaghetti western fantasy and at its heart is Django, without a doubt one of the greatest heroes in film.

1. Batman

My favorite movie, without question, is The Dark Knight. My favorite villain in all of cinema is Heath Ledger’s Joker. It goes without saying, but choosing the number 1 slot for this list was no difficult task. What Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale first crafted in one of my favorite movies ever made, Batman Begins, was nothing short of the greatest hero’s journey ever put on screen.

They also succeeded in crafting the greatest hero in existence. Obviously, Batman was first created in 1939, but never was the character more realized than with what Christopher Nolan has been creating in his Dark Knight Legend. Both Nolan and Bale just show a complete understanding of their character at hand. What Bruce Wayne is, is a man with no responsibility or agenda. He could’ve done anything he wanted to, whether that be a powerful villain or a lazy, rich playboy that he seemingly is. Instead, he became Batman.

The symbol for hope and good in Gotham is Batman, a character like no other who literally is good for the sake of being good. The character may best be defined by the final line of Batman Begins. Lt. Jim Gordon attempts to show his gratitude, “I never said thank you,” he says to which Batman immediately replies “And you’ll never have to.” Bruce Wayne isn’t Batman for the thank you’s or the praise. He does the right thing because it’s the right thing.

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Top Ten Movie Antiheroes

This will honestly end up being one of the most fun lists I’ll ever get to make. Antiheroes make for some of the best movie characters ever, plain and simple. It was some what of a blast to look back over all the movies I love and realize just how interesting some of the characters are. It was intriguing to look through movies and actually decide for myself whether a character is an antihero. This is a list my favorite protagonists in film that don’t fit the definition of you’re average hero.

I want to be clear though and say that not all of the characters on this list can be considered “bad”. An antihero doesn’t have to be evil, the character just can’t fit the bill of hero. While this was one of the most gratifying lists I’ve ever made, it was also one of the more difficult ones. There were, in fact, a few that just didn’t make the cut and I’d like to mention them. I almost had Antonio Saleri on the list, but he didn’t end up making it. Also, I juggled the idea of putting the scheming Jack Sparrow and the careless Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski, but I unfortunately had no room for them. If I were to have an eleventh I would have to say Mark Zuckerberg because I just loved what Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher did with that character. I had to mention those honorably, but now let’s get into the actual list.

10. Charles Bronson (Bronson)

I am actually some what depressed that I was only able to give Michael “Charlie Bronson” Peterson the tenth slot in my list, but I unfortunately didn’t have the heart to make anyone lower. Tom Hardy gives a performance that other actors can only dream of giving as main character, Bronson. The character is dark, brutal, deranged and morbid, but not with out a sense of comedy from time to time.

9. Alex DeLarge (A Clockwork Orange)

Many might be surprised to find Alex DeLarge this low on a list of antiheroes. Where as, yes, Alex DeLarge can easily be considered the most evil of the characters on this list, I would not consider him my favorite antihero. This list, however, would not feel complete with out him. This is a character that could’ve easily been the antagonist of a movie. Instead, A Clockwork Orange examines a character filled with apathy and malevolence.

8. Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver)

This is another selection I’m sure most would be disappointed in, not because its on the list, but because it wouldn’t be surprising to see Travis Bickle in the #1 slot. I love Taxi Driver and Travis Bickle is an amazing character, but I had to decide on an order. Robert De Niro puts his all into his work and when he’s given a character as enthralling as Bickle, it’s hard to imagine that anything would go wrong and nothing did. Travis Bickle is an awesome antihero.

7. Mark Renton (Trainspotting)

Trainspotting is a grim, yet beautiful mosaic of life itself pieced together through the adventures of misfits. There are highs, there are lows and at the heart of the masterpiece is the development and study of protagonist, Mark Renton. Like most of his mates, Mark Renton is a junky. He is defined, at first, by his opening monologue, “I chose not to choose life. I chose something else and the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroine?” He may be getting off the stuff, he may be relapsing and he may be shooting a dog so it’ll attack its owner, but he’s always an awesome antihero.

6. Michael Corleone (The Godfather Part I+II)

Whether I’m discussing his dark character arc in The Godfather or Al Pacino’s masterful performance in The Godfather Part II, I’m still discussing one of the of the greatest characters in cinema and one hell of an antihero. Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone was a performance that could make one speechless, but for me it’s a performance that doesn’t even compare to what Pacino did with by far the best character in the story. It takes two movies, but Michael Corleone’s transformation from the most decent Corleone into the most despicable is nothing short of extraordinary.

5. Lisbeth Salander (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

Yes, I was just introduced to this character for the first time last year, but I couldn’t help but fall in love with every aspect that makes up Lisbeth Salander and there was never any hesitation as to whether I’d put her on this list. The titular girl with the dragon tattoo is relentlessly mesmerizing. She’s dark, she’s layered, she’s damaged, she’s desensitized, she can be brutal, she can be lovable, she can be kind, she can be insane and she is, as described in her first scene, “different”. Some may argue that Lisbeth isn’t an antihero, but I don’t think its in the repertoire of your average hero to set your father on fire or shove a metal rod into a man’s ass. She’s an antihero and one of the best.

4. Jules Winnfield (Pulp Fiction)

He is one of a handful of main characters in one of the greatest pieces of cinema ever created. He also happens to be the most compelling character of the film and the greatest antihero in a film full of great antiheroes. The well-spoken hit man, Jules Winnfield, is my favorite aspect of one of my favorite films and to keep him off this list would be a sin. The character of Jules is as enthralling as he is enjoyable. It’s a blast watching the way he works to interrogate his victims before blasting away and then later, it’s inspirational to watch his character arc come to fruition in one of my favorite scenes in film. Winnfield is unarguably one of the greatest antiheroes in film.

3. William Munny (Unforgiven)

“I’ve killed women and children. I’ve killed just about everything that walks or crawls at sometime or another.” Through honesty, this is a quote that serves as a reminder of who we’ve been watching throughout the film, Unforgiven. This is the same character who never previously failed to attempt to convince himself and the people around him that he “ain’t like that no more”. William is the most honest, monogamous, and decent character in the film, yet by the end it’s realized he can also be considered the most cruel and despicable.

Unforgiven is the greatest western in existence and it has a lot to offer story-wise and thematically. It manages this through the study of a man thrust into a world of lust, violence and lawlessness. William Munny describes his character and the themes of the film with a single, simplistic line, “We all have it comin’, kid.” Unforgiven will always and forever be one of my favorite movies and it would be nothing with out its profound protagonist.

2. Daniel Plainview (There Will Be Blood)

It was unbearably difficult to make this list and one the most difficult aspects of its creation came from having to place Daniel Plainview in this slot when he could’ve easily been considered my favorite antihero in existence, but after much consideration I placed him here. There Will Be Blood offers up the greatest character study in film. It’s not only the greatest because it’s a flawlessly made film and the study of Plainview never fails to keep your interest, but also because, through beautiful writing and one of the greatest performances in all of film, in Daniel Plainview you find one of the most fascinating characters ever.

No other film, not Refn’s Bronson, not Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, not even Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, examines a character so mind-numbngly deranged and despicable and does so with so much flair. Paul Thomas Anderson is a master director, but it took a mix of him and the greatest actor of all time to create the monster that is Daniel Plainview. What can be said? The greed and hatred of Daniel Plainview is something you have to experience for yourself because like most masterpieces it’ll mean something different than what it meant for me.

1. Tyler Durden (Fight Club)

Fight Club is simply one of my favorite films. That’s all there is to it and that’ll never change. Every ounce of me is madly in love with every minute detail that makes up the masterpiece that is Fight Club. What comes with a love for the film, Fight Club, is an unconditional love for the character, Tyler Durden. Tyler Durden is one of my favorite cinematic characters in existence and he’s my favorite antihero in film.

Fight Club offers up a portrait of a generation that has “no great war or great depression”. This is a generation with nothing to be remembered for and once this realization comes to fruition the angst, anger and anarchy is driven by one man. He’s the epitome of cool, he knows what to say and when to say it and you listen because you know he’s right (“in Tyler we trusted”), he lets that which does not matter truly slide and he’s everything you wish you could be.

“It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything.” It’s constant words of wisdom like this that make Tyler Durden the leader that is understandably followed and one of the most spectacular characters in film. There’s a lot to the idea of Tyler Durden and he’s something of a wonder that would take a while to establish, but what puts him at the top of my list is the epiphany by the end that there’s a Tyler Durden in all of us and that’s a fact that can’t be ignored. This very idea encapsulates why antiheroes are so fascinating. They aren’t usually black and white, antiheroes are the greys in between and Tyler Durden is the greatest in film.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Review

I’m trying to figure out how best to establish my views regarding the Pirates of the Caribbean series, while establishing my opinion on this single film, the fourth in the series. I think the best place to start is by saying that my favorite film in the series probably have to be the third, At World’s End. From a filmmaking stand point, yes The Curse of the Black Pearl is unquestionably the best of the series. I just have such a blast watching At World’s End that I can’t help it.

Is the film that great when looking at it with a tasteful or artistic eye, no, not really at all. The film however is fun as hell and a huge guilty pleasure of mine. I honestly believe this can be said about all the films, on a quality level, the Pirates of the Caribbean series is not great, but I love the characters, I love the wit, I love where they start, where they’re going and especially how they get there. Above all I just love watching them and I think you know where I’m going with this. The same can be said when it comes to this new feature in the series, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

In this fourth installment, you’ll find exactly the right ingredients: a fun adventure story, a good villain (a constant in this series), the best Barboosa subplot in the entire series and of course Jack Sparrow being Jack Sparrow. This film is right on par with the other Pirates of the Caribbean films and as a result, a fun time at the theater. My complaints on the film would come in the form of some screwball comedy and a dull love plot between a bible friendly crew member of Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge and a mermaid, but this is all made up for in the idea that all these characters are respected. This is made apparent in the greatest aspect of the film, a revenge plot revolving around my favorite character in this film, Hector Barbossa and Blackbeard.

All and all, if you got any enjoyment out of the three first films, it would make no sense at all to not find enjoyment out of this film. And if I didn’t state it clearly enough already, then here’s the statement again; Pirates of the Caribbean is in no way cinematic brilliance. It is however, undoubtedly one fun trip to the movies and you can’t ask for much else.

Grade: B

#17 “Captain” Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean Series)

The fast-talking, quick-thinking and cooky pirate we all know and love.

 

  •  Actor: Johnny Depp
  • Quote: “Drink up me harties yo- ho”
  • Action: Fights Davy Jones on the mast of a boat while holding his heart in one hand.
  • Clip(s):