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

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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 Revenge Movies

One of the most common motives for a character in a film is vengeance. It’s such a common motive that films centered around vengeance have basically become a genre all their own. This is a list dedicated to the films that made revenge into an art form. Its such a classic tale, to see a character wronged and then enjoy the subsequent actions that character takes in order to usually get well-deserved revenge. Here are my favorite films where the act of vengeance are key to drive the plot.

10. Gangs of New York

Martin Scorsese’s gritty look into the lives of gangster’s in 1800s New York was driven almost solely by the fact that the main character, Amsterdam (Leonardo DiCaprio), wanted nothing more in the world than to kill his father’s killer. The sadistic basterd, Bill “The Butcher” Cutting, was played to perfection by the great Daniel Day-Lewis because we wanted him dead almost as much as Amsterdam.

9. Oldboy

Oldboy was able to succeed in doing what no other film was able to do. It was able to take the act of vengeance to the next level. Oldboy tells the tale of a man imprisoned for 15 years and the days after his imprisonment, in which he attempts to figure out the why, the who, and how to best exact his revenge. Oldboy is not for the faint of heart, but if you know what you’re getting into you won’t be disappointed.

8. V for Vendetta

The graphic novel based science-fiction film about the not-so-distant future is nothing short of a masterful act of vengeance. V for Vendetta is such a monumentally enjoyable film that it astounds me. V for Vendetta is amazing in the way that the protagonist isn’t just driven by vengeance, but also justice. The people who wronged V didn’t just wrong him, they wronged a country and they deserve exactly what they get.

7. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Tim Burton has made some brilliant films, but none were nearly as good as his dark yet beautiful look into the physical and mental casualties of vengeance. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is unquestionably the most beautiful of all Tim Burton’s films. Johnny Depp gives the performance of his career as the vengeful barber from hell. This is my favorite musical and one of the greatest tales of revenge ever told.

6. Brick

Beneath the classic detective tale, the mystery and the pitch-perfect references to film-noir, Brick is the tale of a loner getting back at a world who took away the only thing he ever loved. Brick is a truly brilliant crime drama set in the confines of a high school and where that could easily become corny, Brick stays serious and manages to keep you involved until the beautiful ending that you crave for from the second you start putting the puzzle together.

5. Unforgiven

I would just like to make this clear, Unforgiven is the greatest western in existence and one of the greatest films ever made. It is undoubtedly my favorite of the movies listed here, it is however not my favorite tale of vengeance. There’s a lot more substance to Unforgiven thematically and even when it comes to the plot. It’s not a tale driven simply by vengeance, so I am certainly welling to put it at number 5, but the top four spots are more fitting for solely tales of revenge.

4. Once Upon a Time in the West

Sergio Leone’s masterful take on revenge is not only unmistakably brilliant, but also unique. Once Upon a Time in the West is unique in the way that it establishes a truly cold-blooded basterd of a villain in the character Frank (played spectacularly by Henry Fonda), but doesn’t establish that the movie is actually a simple tale of revenge until the final showdown. Frank is one of the most villainous characters ever put on screen throughout, but we don’t know the true extent of his wrath until the second before he’s shot in the chest.

3. Memento

It’s pretty self-explanatory why Memento is this high on the list if you’ve seen the movie and that right there is a statement all its own. Quite honestly, Memento is one of the most original and refreshing films ever concocted. It’s the innovative tale of a man bent on revenge for the murder of his wife, unfortunately that task is made rather difficult due to the fact that he has short-term memory loss. He constantly has to take notes and get tattoos in order to stay on track, but he never knows who he can trust whether that be his best friend or even himself.

2. Gladiator

Ridley Scott’s Gladiator is so utterly pure in its tale of good vs. evil. What you get in the film Gladiator is a hero of almost mythical status, a general who becomes a slave, a slave that becomes a gladiator and the gladiator that defied an empire. You also get one one of the most despicable movie villains in film. There are many villains I love in film, The Joker, Hannibal, Anton Chigurh, Hans Landa, etc. Commodus is not one of those villains. I hate him almost as much as I hate Nurse Ratched and that’s a lot of hate.

Long story short, you basically love Maximus and hate Commodus. You cannot wait until he is able to exact his well-deserved revenge and that’s exactly what you get. Gladiator is a beautifully epic, yet simple film and that quite honestly is what a true tale of vengeance should be. Gladiator is one of the greatest films in existence and is well deserving of a spot on a list of the greatest tales of revenge ever put on the silver screen.

1. Kill Bill

With his blood-soaked masterpiece, Kill Bill, Quentin Tarantino manages to perfectly epitomize the idea of a film centralized by the act of vengeance. There is truthfully no story of revenge that was as magnificent, beautiful and epic as Kill Bill is. Once again, its a generally simple tale, what  you see is what you get. A woman is betrayed, her family killed and due to a bullet to the head, put into a coma.

The people responsible are her former associates and the man she once loved, Bill. After four years in a comatose state, she wakes up and goes on a killing spree with a single agenda, see title. Kill Bill is both a tale of revenge and a journey and like any amazing journey, there are highs, lows, interesting characters and experiences that all lead to a single climax.

The climax in Kill Bill is one you’re forced to crave for four amazing hours and what you get is one of the most satisfying scenes in the history of film. Quentin Tarantino always seems to have a way of creating some of the most memorable moments in film and does nothing short of that when he created the greatest the tale of revenge of all time. Kill Bill is one of my favorite films in existence and can’t be described in a greater way than to say that it is without a shred of doubt the greatest tale of revenge ever told.

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Top Ten Comic Book/Graphic Novel Movies

Through the years movies have been made based on comic books, graphic novels or comic book characters. Some have been excellent movies worthy of the praise any other movie might get in a different less childish genre. Some have not been so good, anyone remember Daredevil or X-Men 3. Well, this list isn’t about the comic book movies that were terrible, it’s about the comic book movies that were good. When you here comic book, you might think of super powers, but that’s not always true. In fact, more than half the movies on the list don’t involve any powers. Well here’s a list of my top ten favorite movies based on comic books or comic book characters:

10. The Mask

The decently comically written movie was made hilarious by funny man Jim Carrey.

9. A History of Violence 

The grisly crime thriller, is well acted, violent and intelligently woven.

8. Batman

The original Tim Burton film was fun to watch because of the beautiful sets and the hysterical performance by Jack Nicholson.

7. The Incredible Hulk

The action sequences were intense and creative, while the acting was top-notch.

6. Spider-Man

The original Spider-Man was an excellent way to get the genre started back again.

5. Iron Man

This was an excellent film filled with entertaining scenes and acting. 

4. V for Vendetta

A dark and entertaining criticism on society.

3. Sin City

This Pulp Fiction hybrid is visually spectacular.

2. Batman Begins

A dark and moody film that started a series of perfection.

1. The Dark Knight

A flawless film about good vs. evil and the choices they are forced to make. The Dark Knight isn’t just the greatest comic book movie, but also one of the greatest movies of all time.