Friday, March 25, 2011

What Makes a Hero?

I spend a lot of time with heroes (and I don't mean just the fictional ones), so I've often asked myself what it is that sets a hero apart from other men. Looks?

Well, a broad set of shoulders, a nice smile, long legs, muscles…those are all nice, but those aren't the real draw when push comes to shove (after I finish looking).

Neither is perfection. Perfection is boring, so a hero may come across as overbearing or even a bit unprincipled at first. As long as he eventually changes his colors and does the right thing, I'm good with that. In fact, the journey from problem guy to good guy makes him more interesting and intriguing.

So, what characteristics must a guy have for me to consider him a hero? The list changes now and then. It's always evolving, but here are some of the attributes I've come up with that shout "hero" to me:

A sense of humor, first and foremost. If he can't laugh and make me laugh, there's  a problem.

Staying reasonably cool during times of stress. I'm not sure if that's just no-nonsense me or if it's more universal than that, but I need a hero who doesn't fuss or lose his head. At least not too often. He can get angry or upset. He just can't run screaming into the night.

My idea of a hero is also someone who is unswayed by peer pressure (or any other kind of pressure) but who is willing to listen to reason and will change his mind if he decides that he was wrong.

He'll always look out for those weaker than himself.

He'll try to do the right thing rather than the expedient thing.

Intelligence is key.

In the end, what I'm looking for is a man I can't ignore, one who commands respect and admiration. He's larger than life. He's strong with strong opinions, but the heroine makes him weak. However, in the end, she also makes him stronger, a better man than he was in the first place. How can you not love a guy like that?

Here are a few of my favorite heroes from fiction or movies (some of these are old).

Christian from Laura Kinsale's Flowers from the Storm
Reginald from Mary Jo Putney's The Rake and the Reformer
WALL-E (come on, he was a true hero and very romantic)
Rhett Butler
Shrek (not physically attractive, but Fiona brings out the best in him and he goes
    to his fate willingly, even eagerly. He makes sacrifices for love).
Sebastian in Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels
James Garner's character in The Notebook (sorry, I didn't read the book)
Peeta from The Hunger Games
Dan Calebo from Susan Elizabeth Phillips' It Had to Be You (or pretty much any
  of her heroes)
Shane from Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer's Agnes and the Hitman

I could go on, but I don't want to bore you to tears (Run! Save yourselves)! Instead, I'll just ask, what traits have I missed or what do you want to see in a hero that differs from my list?

And here's the fun part (I think). Name some of your favorite heroes. I'm always looking for new books and movies.

Best Wishes and Happy Reading! 


Colleen said...

Oh I like everything that you listed! You put down everything that I could think... I have the Hunger Games trilogy, but have not read them yet... as for fav heroes... so many that my taste changes as I go along... :)

Myrna Mackenzie said...

Colleen, I don't know if you'll like The Hunger Games (we all like different things, don't we?), but I ate that trilogy up! Very different from what I usually read, but absolutely riveting. I couldn't put the books down and had to read them one right after the other.

The comment you made about tastes changing as you go along...I was just thinking that this morning. I have a post set up (for Sunday, I think) on all the movie versions of Jane Eyre and I posted some YouTube clips. It was really interesting to see how Mr. Rochester changed with each version (one of the early ones made me say eww at his behavior. Not sure I would have liked that one, but maybe he got better as the movie went on).

Mary Preston said...

Colonel Brandon in 'Sense and Sensibility' is a favorite hero of mine & too often overlooked.

Myrna Mackenzie said...

Marybelle, I had forgotten him (see, he was overlooked again), but he's a true hero.

Virginia C said...

A man who takes care of his family with his wealth is a provider. A hero is a man who takes care of his family in all circumstances, especially when wealth is unavailable or unattainable. A man with a compassionate heart, strong principles, honor and humor will always be heroic to those who love him. Money cannot buy those qualities. What makes a man most attractive is a quiet confidence, a definite masculinity, that shows itself in thought and action. Handsome men are sometimes merely "pretty", nice to look at, but not always substantial in personality. When you find a man who is strong, smart and sensitive, sweet and sensual, you don't want to look at anyone else.

Myrna Mackenzie said...

Virginia, now that's a real hero!