10. Marge Gunderson
Everyone loves Fargo; I think it is the most widely-accepted film the Coen Brothers ever made (although not their best). I think Marge is a big part of this. Yes, she has that stereotypical Minnesota ‘nice’ thing going on; a sort of ‘aw shucks’ approach to the case. But do not let that fool you, she is as craft as a craftsman and as shrewd as a shrew. I think she was the only person who knew what was going, and in turn had complete control over the situation. All being 7 months pregnant. No wonder Joel…or was it Ethan…married her.
I love this little guy. He had a rough upbringing; being ripped away from his mom at the age of 0, spending his formative years being bullied and heckled by other farm animals, and only had that annoying duck as a friend. Babe had many reasons to be bitter at the world. But you know what? He was not embittered! He was not a separatist. Oh no my friend. He became a uniter, a great uniter of sheep and dog. And he didn’t coarse this unity with force, unlike other historic conquerors like William of Orange and Qin Shi Huang. He did it with kindness and understanding. This is a lesson we all can learn from. That’ll do pig. That’ll do.
Sometimes kindness works. But sometimes you need to kick ass with a big gun. This was the M.O. of RoboCop. On the tough streets of Detroit, you can’t come soft. You have to bring it. That is what RoboCop does; he brings it. With a machine-gun gun, fully decked out in armor, and a can-do spirit that will never crumble, RoboCop is always welcome to police my streets. Actual fact; some citizens of Detroit wanted to erect a statue of RoboCop in their main square, ala Philly and Rocky. But alas, the city government denied this movement. I think Detroit politicians were too scared of the awesomeness such a statue would radiate to the masses.
7. Dirty Harry Callahan
If you want justice, you can turn to RoboCop. If you want vigilante justice, turn to Dirty Harry. This guy thinks he should be the judge, jury, and executioner of San Francisco. And you know what? He should be!! Dirty Harry maybe is a renegade cop who plays by his own rules (I mean there is a reason why he is not ‘Clean Harry’), but those rules he plays by are pretty wicked awesome! Why bother with an arrest, a trial, and all of that bureaucratic red tape when you have a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off? If he didn’t keep quitting the SFPD after every single movie, maybe he would have cleaned up the streets from all of those dirty hippies they have running around there.
6. Maximus Decimus Meridius
If you want great leaders and unifiers, look no further than Maximus. Everyone who met this guy were willing to follow him all the way to Elysium and fight for him. Whether it was his army at the beginning or the gladiators he helped rally around him or the senators that wanted to use him as political figure or the masses that love to see a man scissor off another man’s head, Maximus just oozes charisma. The seminal moment that showed his greatness is when he and the emperor were both lying dead on the arena floor and the soldiers carried Maximus out and left that cowardly asshole Joaquin Phoenix there for the vultures. ‘What we do in life echoes for eternity’. Yes it does Maximus. Yes it does.
5. Imperator Furiosa
There has been this recent outcry by social groups to have stronger female characters in movies. You can just look at Star Wars and how politically conscience they have become in this iteration of films. But no matter how much you are for this movement, it seems like many films are forcing female characters into heroes/leads and are not really that good (IE: Ghostbusters remake and Rey). Not Furiosa. She is such a naturally strong character that was written and portrayed so well, you really don’t even think of her as a female, which I think is the point of all of this. You think of her as a badass who gets shit done. She is not a romantic interest for some man, she wasn’t all sexed up for the camera (although Charlize looks good in every movie post Monster), or plays a surrogate role for a male lead. She is her own hero. She is so awesome that even the gruff Mad Max saw this. Reference when Max cedes the rifle to her to shoot the Bullet Farmer right in his damn eye! If that scene doesn’t win you over, well…..I don’t know how to talk to you anymore.
4. Rocky Balboa
I love Rocky. You love Rocky. Philly loves Rocky. So much so, they made a statue of him. Now think about that; a fictional character was paid tribute in a city where there is more American History than any other city in the US. That is the power of Rocky. The true underdog story that debuted in 1976, this B-movie actually won the Oscar for Best Picture. The primary reason? The character of Rocky. All people could relate to this guy, even if they were not an ex-goon for a loan shark. Maybe we all have this feeling inside us that fills us with self doubt, and to see a character have that same innate feeling yet overcome it is uplifting. Also it is the only sports movie I know of where the ‘good guy’ loses yet you feel he succeeded. Obviously this element changed with subsequent movies of Rocky, each one becoming more outrageous than the next. But in essence, I feel Rocky is a simple man who loves a simple woman and just wants to compete. I like that version best.
3. Obi-Wan Kenobi
Of course a Star Wars guy has to make the list. But why Obi-Wan? I mean he was never the central protagonist and he isn’t even the most powerful Jedi? Well, he is the only Jedi character that was in all six movies (I will not recognize 7-9 until I see them all) and offered sage advice all along the way. I was not a fan of his ‘yeah Luke, I didn’t lie to you about Vader killing your father because in a sense I was right’. Yeah, shut up old man. You intentionally misled Luke; you knew what you were doing. This is the primary reason why Obi-Wan is not ranked higher. Other than that intentional deceit backed by his lame justification, Obi-Wan pressed all the right buttons and made all the correct decisions in his help of bringing down the Empire. If it was up to Yoda, he would have hidden away forever in his shitty marshland yurt and let Vader and Co. run roughshod all over the Universe. What a little green turd! Obi-Wan was the man who made things happen, and that is why he is #4.
2. Indiana Jones
No movie hero list is complete without Indy. With a great combination of charm, wit, humor, courage, intelligence, and MacGyver-eque know-how, Indiana Jones is a quintessential movie hero of all time. I think everyone in this world loves this character. So why not #1? Well, other than there are two others I like more, if you think about it Indy really isn’t a hero in the true sense. He didn’t save the world or intentionally help others. He was really just out to recover relics for his museum; a sort of grave robber. The end results of all his quests, sans the Temple of Doom, didn’t help anyone very much. In Raiders the Nazis would have had their faces melted even if Indy didn’t show up. In Last Crusade, the Nazis would have just chosen the wrong cup and aged quickly to their death if Indy and father didn’t interfere. In Kingdom, well, let’s forget that one. Regardless, Indiana Jones is still really awesome and deserves to be ahead of lyin’ Obi-Wan.
Who else who I put at #1? C’mon now, this was obvious. Although probably as much if not more of a literary hero, I don’t care. I like the movies better anyway (I know…sacrilege for a Tolkienite to say). Gandalf is the wisest, most powerful, and legendary hero on this list. He is Obi-Wan before Alec Guinness. He is Dumbledore before JK Rowling. He is Merlin before….well forget I said that. Anyway, Gandalf has been a much ballyhooed character by nerdy fans like myself for years, the portrayal of this character on the big screen was going to be much scrutinized. Enter Sir Ian, who knocked this out of the park and not only quelled all doubt, but added to the character in a way only a true thespian of his talent can do.
In sum, to quoteth Gandalf the Grey when chatting with Frodo in the Halls of Khazad-Dum:
Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.
Or to quoteth Gandalf the White with Pippin when in Minas Tirith:
PIPPIN: I didn’t think it would end this way.
GANDALF: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.
PIPPIN: What? Gandalf? See what?
GANDALF: White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.
PIPPIN: Well, that isn’t so bad.
GANDALF: No. No, it isn’t.
Makes me smile every time. :)