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What Makes A Great Hero

In 2019; thanks to over a decade of back to back Marvel movies and Netflix shows, and DC content on the big and small screens, society collectively has an idea of what a hero looks like.

When you look at the source material, these archetypes aren’t entirely different, sure they might have less comedic quips in times of peril, they may not all look as aesthetically pleasing and on the whole they spend more time doing their job instead of talking or shouting at people (looking at you, Batman), but on the whole these adaptations are fairly faithful. This means that maybe now more than ever we know what it takes to make a hero. You may already be thinking impenetrable armour, immense shooting skills, a bag full of endless gadgets, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. What comics are great at is crafting the idea of a hero and showing us countless variations, yet at the core all of these men, women and odd creatures are a handful of features that make us look up to them, even if we don’t always see it.

Justice

This may seem obvious with super hero team names like the Justice League, but bringing in the bad guys one way or another is at the core of heroism. What makes this unclear however is that many characters such as anti-heroes (like the Punisher for example) apply justice in a much different way than say Spiderman, who simply leaves thugs wrapped in web for the police to find. Justice isn’t always clear, which is a battle the best heroes have to deal with, but simply having a code and sticking to it is something we find noble, even if it’s a deadly one.

Persistence

Another key facet of a hero is the ability to persevere through anything. I’m sure you can’t imagine looking up to someone who gives up at their first attempt, which is why the role models in books never give up. Whether it is tracking down a criminal, looking for someone lost or standing back up in a fight they are losing, persistence is necessary for someone to be crowned heroic.

Exceptional Skill

This is probably one that people think of immediately, but don’t get this mixed up with expensive high tech, or laser eyes, skill is often very different to using gadgets or unexplainable powers. What we like to see is someone who is great at something, often heroes have a few tricks up their sleeves, but one thing alone can separate them from the other ordinary crime fighters. Take Batman, what makes him so incredible is not his cars, his suit or his grappling hook, in the comics it is simply his detective skills – he’s smart, that’s all he needs.

Another key facet of a hero is the ability to persevere through anything. I’m sure you can’t imagine looking up to someone who gives up at their first attempt, which is why the role models in books never give up. Whether it is tracking down a criminal, looking for someone lost or standing back up in a fight they are losing, persistence is necessary for someone to be crowned heroic.

Weakness

Though it may seem counterintuitive after the last point, weakness is necessary for us to see someone as a hero. If a character had all the other elements but lacked weakness not only would they be tougher to empathise with, but they would be more of a deity than a hero. Whether their loved ones make them vulnerable, they have an addiction they can’t shake or simply become immobile when exposed to a green rock, all well written heroes have a fault, that helps to make them seem more human, and therefore more like ourselves.