Monday, March 16, 2015

Heroes - To Flaw or Not To Flaw

Pepper here and today I'm talking about one of my favorite topics.

Of course you know, not all heroes are created equal, though there is a brand of hero-stereotype out there.

You know the ones-

The Superman hero: Kind, generous, honest, gentle, strong, handsome, smart, noble…. The list goes on.

Who can argue with the dashing, determined, and darling hero whose kind heart propels him forward into good works to save the damsel, kill the dragon, defeat the bad-guy. It’s the noble guy. The Captain America or Luke Skywalker. Yes…that’s ONE type of hero – but I want to start a discussion today about the OTHER kind of hero. The one who USUALLY takes the lead role in a movie and sets our Mr. Good-Guy to a complimentary supporting character place.

In a massive cast like Lord of the Rings, there are bound to be a whole group of heroes.

Wholesome, good, and FANTASTIC archer, Legolas, stands out in this group – or Gandalf the white.

Let’s look at a few of the BEST movie heroes of all time and see how they rank with the above definition.

Here’s what I found:

  • James Bond
  • Indiana Jones 
  • Captain Jack Sparrow 
  • Rhett Butler
  • Han Solo
Hmmm….as Jack would say, “Interesting”

Can this motley crew be a group of heroes too? Of course they can. Some of the BEST heroes are the most flawed ones – and I think that’s what makes them the most interesting. I guess that's why Wolverine has his own movie and Cyclops doesn't.

It’s why James Bond is an icon and Han Solo gets a higher ranking than Luke Skywalker.

Superman vs Batman? The difference is visibly obvious. But they’re BOTH heroes. Flaws. Flaws (and I daresay, humor too :) We want to see a flawed guy reach beyond his flaws and become something greater for the woman he loves.

 Let’s pit Mr. Bingley against Mr. Darcy (no offense Jane Austen) What makes us fall in love with Darcy? (besides wet shirts and ‘almost kisses’….uh hem) Complexity of character. A flawed hero. An opportunity for love to change a man to be better.

 And I’m a BIG Captain American Fan- especially played by Chris Evans – but I like Chris playing the Human Torch in The Fantastic Four better because he was so daggone flawed, it was relatable. He needed rescuing. He needed to push beyond his flaws to become something greater. It’s how Jack Sparrow became the icon of Pirates of the Caribbean. A good-hearted pirate? (mind you, I’ve never gotten past the eyeliner)

And let’s not even mention Edward Rochester. Flawed? Let me count the ways.

My oldest son added the teen criminal mastermind, Artemis Fowl – who becomes the HERO! Some more? Flynn Rider? Sherlock Holmes (the newest BBC edition is FAB)

So – what say you? Flaws or no flaws? What do you write? If you could claim any hero as your creation, who would you have picked and why? Inquiring minds want to know!


kaybee said...

Good post Pepper.
I don't see how they can help but be flawed, especially if they come to know the Lord DURING the book. Michael Moriarty, the hero in the Oregon Trail book I'm shopping around, uses his good looks and gift of gab to get through life and doesn't really worry about the consequences. But he's haunted by an incident back in Ireland, when he was accused of murdering the landlord's son, and it's why he keeps running and can't commit -- until Caroline comes back into his life. Pace Williams, the hero in the sequel, is even more deeply scarred, having been abused and neglected as a child and witnessing a brutal murder. This shapes his life and makes it difficult for him to trust people.
It's interesting! I watch TV, maybe too much, and I'm fascinated by Dr. Henry Morgan on "Forever," who is flawed and has backstory up the wazoo (he would have to have backstory since he NEVER DIES). In contrast, my husband and I have been watching old tapes of "MacGyver," the action series of the 80s. Richard Dean Anderson has great hair, but his character is almost as much of a machine as the machines he rigs in his various adventures. There's practically no backstory, except for a storied childhood in Minnesota, and no flaws. I mean, even the A-Team had Vietnam to deal with! This is probably what we don't want in a hero, unless we're writing for television in the 80s.
Kathy Bailey

Sarah Bennett said...

This post is epic not only for its versatile use of comic book heroes and Jane Austen, but you point out why so many readers of the Bible identify with Paul: "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Romans 7:15

We inherently view the flaws in ourselves and a hero with a flaw draws the reader into an understanding of that characteristic. Yes, there are a few heroes that seemingly have no flaws (Esther is one that comes to mind), but I love an internal war that manifests itself on page.

If I could claim a hero? Jack Skellington. He just wanted to do something new under the guise of helping and made a perpetual snowball of errors, no matter how hard he tried. A close second place is Anne Shirley.

Pepper Basham said...

Love your 80s example! :-) So true!! I'm not a big fan of cardboard heroes, but give me some three dimensional, with a sprinkle (or douse) of redeemable flaws and you win me over EVERY time :-)

Pepper Basham said...

TWO fabulous additions to the flawed cast of heroes.
Anne Shirley is a classic because of her magnanimous heart, limitless imagination, and redeemable flaws. Oh my goodness!

(and I have eclectic interest, obviously :-)