Although the fascination given off by negative figures within the entertainment world is undeniable, as evidenced by our specials dedicated to some of the most important villains in the history of cinema, it is equally obvious that these figures can be profoundly iconic only in the case of where there is a counterpart able to challenge them and, if necessary, also to defeat them.
This time we want to focus attention on a whole series of characters who have even been able to mark the history of the media to which they belong: the protagonists of the stories, the heroes.
Sometimes impeccable in their way of presenting themselves and doing, but more and more often also imperfect and full of fragility, also able for this reason to enter deeply into empathy with the public.
Protagonists, superheroes or simply heroes who, thanks to willpower, as well as their inclination to fight for their community without being afraid of sacrificing their lives to defend the innocent, have carved out a respectable place in the collective pop imagination.
In the special that follows we will try to list some of the protagonists, both cinematographic and videogame, recent and not, who somehow managed to enter everyone’s heart.
Errors, doubts and uncertainties
Obviously removed the greatest heroes of the classics of literature, it is impossible not to start with the three (still today) most famous superheroes in the world, namely Superman, Batman and Spider-Man, all characterized in a different way but united by difficult personal stories, linked primarily to their origins, at the base of which there is a great trauma.
Trauma, however, that allowed him to mature over time, to grow together with the readers who have always supported them and consequently to also land in the cinema, arriving if we want to their definitive consecration over the last forty years.
But what does a hero have to do to be truly hero? First of all, to vote one’s life for the common good, thus putting aside personal desires (which often these characters could aspire to because of their extraordinary abilities), in an attempt to improve the world they are part of.
From the enormous sense of revenge characteristic of various heroes to their natural inclination to defend the weakest and the innocent from threats that are often unmanageable or insurmountable to ordinary people, the protagonists of many success stories become a real guide for the community in which they live.
Still, there was no shortage of the most different behavioral archetypes related to modeling the heroes themselves, just think of the comparison between a protagonist with an epic and solemn setting such as Superman, opposed instead to a hero at times less virtuous like Jeeg Robot’s Enzo, in need in all respects of a real external push to start its own path.
Not only then catalytic heroes like Superman, able to remain more or less the same over time, but also reluctant like Simba, the protagonist of the Disney Classic The Lion King who, again following a trauma, loses his way home without knowing what to do with his life, only to grow temperamentally, change and mature to regain his rightful place.
Sometimes even unsuspected heroes, like Frodo Baggins, capable of acting in the service of the community by embarking on an apparently impossible mission, which he himself will not know on some occasions whether to really carry out, in an attempt to put an end to the domination of the dark tyrant Sauron but who thanks to his friends and allies will finally succeed in accomplishing.
Doubt and uncertainty thus become one of the introspective and thematic peculiarities of some of our much loved protagonists, even if any hero can find his own way at some point, placing himself and approaching the world around him in a different way, always looking to the good.
Just think for example of solar heroes like Goku or Luffy, but also a Tidus, the protagonist of the famous Final Fantasy X, the latter able to cope with adversity by demonstrating an enviable depth of character even though often maintaining a very lighthearted tone, able to offer support to all his companions in moments of greatest difficulty.
Between strength and determination
What makes the figure of the hero so multifaceted in general terms is also the way in which it can be presented to the public because, although there is often the propensity in the protagonists to fight without killing their opponents, in a sort of respect and of a sense of honor capable of elevating some characters to examples to follow, other times there is also space for a more borderline nature of the same.
Just think of Il Punitore, one of the most famous Marvel anti-heroes who in both films dedicated to him showed the spectators his at times furious nature – towards the wicked – also tending to self-destruction, always trying to maintain a semblance of humanity in the face of the innocent.
Mad Max, protagonist of the eponymous saga, forced by circumstances to survive in a ruthless and brutal world, can be without problems flanked by the figure of the anti-hero, even if often any behavioral archetype is actually the result of various different or sometimes superimposable elements, so as to give the same characters different degrees of character depth.
Batman, one of the most famous superheroes in the world, in certain stories and contexts he approached the figure of the anti-hero, as seen in the reinterpretation of the character carried out by Frank Miller in the famous comic book saga The Dark Knight Returns or in the particular vision given by Zack Snyder in Batman v Superman, in which we see a Bruce Wayne perhaps never so dark and desperate (at least on a cinematic level).
The figure of Venom has been prominent in recent years, a character initially created as a real villain who has turned into an anti-hero, as also seen in the recent film dedicated to him starring Tom Hardy.
Figures endowed with their own character and style at times unique, sometimes able to appear taciturn or even unpleasant, insensitive or detached, just think of the Cloud of Final Fantasy VII or charismatic lonely heroes like John Wayne’s Wild Trails, the Big Boss of the Metal Gear saga or even the famous Conan the barbarian, also arrived in the cinema on several occasions, created by Robert E. Howard.
In short, the hero is not just the simple “good character” who must face a challenge, often is one of the driving forces of the entire narrative plot able, both for his intrinsic abilities as well as for his profound attitude in creating empathy with the public, to excite us and transport us with all of himself within the story of which he is part and, consequently, in the boundless world of fantasy .