Pandragon Dan

Pandragon Dan

Author/Reviewer/Blogger

Top Five Badass Heroes

An alternative title for this blog was also “Top Five heroes that make me question my own sexuality” and “Top Five heroes I would secretly fancy if I was gay!” XD

 

Bonnie Tyler once asked “Where have all the good men gone and where are all the gods?” For the longest time, the dashing hero was a staple in fiction. We all loved reading about a brave, noble man – be they prince or pauper – coming to save the day! And whilst these days, many readers seem to be turning more to the strong female leads in fiction (me included) I still think that there is still a place for a hero.

 

I’ve done various Top fives about my favourite female leads in various medias – and women that I think are totally badass – but that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a really badass hero now and then – as long as they are done right. So today, I’ve decided to give the boys a place in the sun and talk about what I consider to be my personal favourite badass heroes. These are the top five males in fiction that, for any number of reasons, I think are totally badass! As always, these are just my own personal opinion – and listed in no particular order.

 

Just a little warning – there maybe some spoilers ahead! Without further ado, here is my Top Five Badass Heroes!

 

 

 

 

1. Oliver Queen from Arrow

 

I gotta be honest, I didn’t think I would like Arrow nearly as much as I did – considering that Green Arrow wasn’t really a character that I followed in great detail. In fact, when the show first started, I felt that it was trying to be too much like Batman. But actual fact, whilst the first series had a few issues story wise, the second series really upped the ante and series three – my god... that first episode of series three!

 

Oliver Queen was a billionaire stranded on an island for five years – during which time he went through a lot of crap (to put it mildly), but also taught himself to be a badass archer. Returning from the “dead” and returning to Starling City, Oliver uses a list given to him by his father of nasty people that have done bad stuff. He returns to fight those who have “failed” the city – becoming the Vigilante, the Hood and then eventually the Arrow.

 

Story wise, Arrow is pretty basic and most of it seems to follow the same formula as Batman, but Oliver Queen is FAR from being just a clone of Bruce Wayne. There are many sides to his character, the playboy millionaire, the tortured soul, the trained assassin and the noble hero. He’s a guy that has a lot of weight on his shoulders – even when he has people to aid him, he feels it’s his duty to right the wrongs of the city. Like any hero, he struggles to keep those he loves protected by keeping his identity a secret – but the more he tries to hide his secret, the more his family seem to suffer (although members of his family were also involved in the corruption of the city in some way). And despite trying to keep a tough appearance at all time, sometimes it does get too much for him and he just feels like a good cry now and then (it’s all right, Oliver – we love a guy that’s in touch with his feelings).

 

But most of all, Oliver Queen as the Arrow is just BADASS when it comes to fighting! His accuracy with his bow and arrow is just superhuman – even when the target is on a motorcycle! But he’s no wimp in close combat either and he’s managed to beat up many bad guys at once – even giving Slade Wilson a decent fight in combat. I did kinda object to the way that, in the first series, he just seemed to kill a little too much for my liking and I’ve never really been too fond of heroes that kill unnecessarily – but he’s toned this down a lot in the later series – which has actually led to some interesting story branches.

 

What I like most about Arrow is that Stephen Amell, who plays Oliver Queen, does a lot of his own stunts – so he gets two thumbs up from me. I always respect actors that aren’t afraid to do their own stunts where possible.

 

Oliver Queen is overall a well rounded character, tough, heroic and also emotionally damaged. There is so much humanity in Oliver Queen that we can love him not just for being a hero, but for the person he is trying to be. Although, do we really need so many topless scenes with him. I mean, yeah he’s muscular and all... but come on guys! It’s just a male chest! How can anyone possibly be attracted to...

 

 

 

 

 

Er... all of a sudden... I’m starting to question my own masculinity...

 

Um... let’s just move on!

 

 

 

 

2. Seto Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh

 

Yeah, yeah, I know Yugi Moto was the hero in this show – but in my opinion, Seto Kaiba should so have been the main character? Why? Because he was a FAR better character than Yugi in my eyes (sits back and waits fan girl hate).

 

Ok, so the premise of Yu-Gi-Oh as a series was pretty silly to be honest – mostly it was a platform for selling card games. But for what it was, it had some really entertaining characters. Kaiba being one of them. A rich kid that seemed to have an infinite amount of resources at his disposal – and a super intelligent mind – he created a number of machines that could help bring duel monsters to life in 3D. But he also had an arrogant streak that meant he wanted to be the best in life – mainly due to the tough upbringing from his father.

 

Kaiba has been a “frienemy” to Yugi Moto – somehow getting involved in the major plotline in some way – usually to rescue his annoying kid brother! Unlike Yugi, who is usually kind and overly protective of his friends, Kaiba is pretty much out for himself. Now that should kinda make him the bad guy of the show – but to be honest, I actually think this makes him stand out. The main theme of Yu-Gi-Oh is Friendship – but the problem is that this theme gets shoved down the throat of the viewers almost every episode – and the amount of heroic speeches that Yugi and Tea give about friendship and playing by the rules really grates on you. So it’s refreshing to have a “screw the rules, I have money!” type of character (Thanks to LittleKurriboh for creating that meme!).

 

What’s not to love about Kaiba? He plays by his own rules, he’s super smart AND he has the Blue Eyes White Dragon – which is for all purposes the most powerful dragon in the Yu-Gi-Oh universe (at least it was back then). He even once possessed the God Card Obelix the Tormentor – a monster that could pretty much destroy everything in its path. Not only that, but Kaiba has one of the badass coats ever! Just look at the picture I posted! It always stays in that one position the whole time and never moves. And if that’s not enough – he even has a Blue Eyes White Dragon plane! Seriously, this guy is just a technical genius!

 

What annoyed me most about Kaiba was – and this may upset some Yugi fan girls – that I REALLY wanted him to beat Yugi in a duel just once. JUST ONCE! (The first series battle doesn’t count as Kaiba had to blackmail Yugi to not attacking). I mean, this is just my opinion but Kaiba was a FAR better duellist than Yugi! Yugi only won because he happened to pull the right card at the right time (Heart of the Cards my ass!) and somehow won. Come on, I’m sure I’m not the ONLY one to want this!

 

Seto Kaiba may not have been the star of the show – but he was definitely one of the more entertaining characters in my eyes. Now if only there was a way they could have got rid of his annoying kid brother...

 

 

 

 

3. Carl Frederickson from Up

 

Sometimes, being badass doesn’t mean fighting off an army of evil soldiers, or creating awesome tech, or even stopping a villain from taking over the world. Sometimes the most badass thing can just be a simple act of love.

 

In Up, Carl lived with his wife Ellie (both she and him were fans of explorer Charles F Munzt) for many years, making a promise to her to Paradise Falls. Then, in a heartbreaking opening sequence– that still makes people weep when they see it – Ellie dies, leaving Carl alone for the rest of his life. But when he’s threatened to go into a retirement home, Carl decides to make good on his promise, attaching thousands of balloons to his house so that he can fly it to Paradise Falls – accidently picking up Wilderness Explorer Russell along the way. It leads to an amazing adventure where their struggle to get to Paradise Falls is compounded by the discovery of “Kevin” a rare bird that Muntz (who has gone insane from years of hunting this bird) is trying to capture.

 

Now Carl himself is not exactly a spring chicken – but do NOT count him out because of his age. I mean, the guy is a technological genius! He turned his entire house into a floating hot air balloon and created a masterful steering mechanism so that he could pilot it. He’s also pretty tough as he was able to drag the house along when they were forced to walk AND he could fight Munzt in a sword fight – so he’s pretty fit for his age! Sure he could be a little grouchy sometimes, but at his heart, he is a lovely guy that just wants to fulfil a promise he made to his wife.

 

Carl I think stands out from a lot of badass heroes because of the fact he’s not a young man – he’s a guy near the “twilight” of his life. But despite this, he still goes ahead and masters a plan (however unrealistic) to make his wife’s dream come true. And that’s what makes him such an amazing character – everything he does he does for his wife. Come, admit it, you got teary eyed during that montage and the scene where he looked through his wife’s book.

 

Carl Frederickson shows no matter what age you are in life, you can still make your dreams come true. And that, for me, makes him a badass hero! Give this man the Ellie badge!

 

 

 

 

4. Jack Bauer from 24

 

Jack Bauer is quite possibly the most balls-out action hero there is. This guy makes Chuck Norris look like a sissy and it’s easy to see why! Jack Bauer does not **** around! He goes in for the quickest and best solution to any problem – even if it means someone getting killed or tortured!

 

A CTU agent that has seen a LOT of crap in his life, Jack has battled everyone from rogue CTU agents, to terrorist organisations, to Russian mobsters to the Chinese Government. And he’s faced them all down and blown the hell out of them! Seriously, this guy has gone through things that no one man could survive in his life. He’s been shot at, stabbed, been tortured, suffered broken bones and was even once killed for a short time. But no matter how many times you try to kill Bauer, he always comes back stronger than ever! God help you if you should fail to try and kill Bauer – because he WILL mess you up... and that’s only if he decides to let you live!

 

A common complaint that many people (within the show and outside) have of Jack is his willingness to do horrific things to gain information, be they torturing a suspect or stealing from his own people to get necessary information. Sometimes, Jack’s schemes involve innocent people getting hurt or killed. Although Jack himself acknowledges that he’s done some terrible things, he defends his actions by taking a pragmatic approach to the situation. Everything he does is for the bigger picture and, ironically, he’s often correct – as what he does leads to the downfall of the criminal syndicate.

 

It’s not been without its casualties though. Over the course of the nine series of 24, Jack has lost his wife Terri and several lovers (Audrey and Rene to name a few). Not only that, but his relationship with his daughter Kim is strained to say the least. Many times he has just wanted to settle down, but his duty and desire to see the bad guys punished means that he has to put aside his own dreams for the good of the country. But even Jack Bauer, whilst seemingly invincible, has his breaking point. A really poignant scene for me was at the end of series 3 when Jack Bauer secretly broke down crying after the pressure of the day. Poor guy!

 

Yes, Jack does some pretty nasty things – even to people that probably don’t deserve it – but it’s always been for the greater good. And the fact that he makes these choices so that others don’t have to shows how far he is willing to go to protect the country that he loves – even if it despises him. And did I mention that he was a balls out action hero? Well, if it comes to it, he has no problem pulling out a weapon and blowing you away if you so much as stand in his way.

 

You may not agree with his actions, but just be glad he’s on our side!

 

 

 

 

5. Flynn Rider from Tangled

 

I’m just gonna come right out and say it – and I don’t care how people interpret this. I – love – Flynn – Rider! If there was ANY character out there that could turn me from heterosexuality, it’s this guy! Ok, that’s probably a bit of a stretch... but even so...

 

Ahem...

 

Anyway, Flynn Rider (or Eugene is his real name) is quite possibly my favourite Disney hero of all time – and one of the most rounded characters in any Disney film. In Tangled he is a thief that steals a crown, and to hide himself from the palace guards (and the other thieves he tricked) he hides in a tower, where he meets Rapunzel. To cut a long story short, Rapunzel takes the crown he stole and makes a deal with her – take her to see the floating lights and she’ll give it back. Flynn agrees only with the idea of getting his crown back – but then realises there is another dream worth pursuing. And so begins what some Disney fans believe to be the best love story of any Disney film.

 

What’s not to love about Flynn Rider, other than his dashing good looks? For one thing, unlike a lot of heroes in Disney films, he’s not a prince or from a royal family. He’s just a guy that wants to have a rich and profitable life, turning to thievery after he was inspired by reading stories of a swashbuckling rogue (which is where he got his name from). The audience can relate to that as who wouldn’t want to want the best from life. It makes him a lot more realistic than him just being born a prince.

 

I really like Flynn’s character. He’s a little cocksure and kinda arrogant, often using wit and sarcasm to deflect anything that comes his way – but Rapunzel shows him that there is more to life than just money. And with her, he finds a new dream. Also, Flynn has some pretty cool scenes in the film. For one thing, he fights off palace guards with just a frying pan! That in itself is awesome! Sure, Rapunzel has to bail him out more than once in the film, but Flynn is pretty good at taking care of himself when he has to. I have to say the best scenes are with him and the horse Maximus – they never cease to make me chuckle.

 

Oh, and let’s not forget Flynn has the smoulder! It’s powerful enough to make women swoon and men question their own manliness! Yeah, admit it guys, you swooned a little when he did the smoulder! XD

 

But the main reason I think Flynn is so badass is because he makes, what is in my eyes, one of the most heroic sacrifices of any character in a Disney movie. When injured by Mother Gothel, Rapunzel tries to save Flynn in return of willingly becoming her prisoner. But Flynn, not wanting her to be a captive, cuts of her hair and lets himself die so that she can be free – telling her that he was his new dream. But Rapunzel cures him when a tear falls from her eyelash onto his skin (eyelash is still a hair after all) and brings him back. And then they live happily ever after.

 

I personally am not really big on the whole “Knight in Shining” armour trope – but Flynn Rider is a welcome change on that. He is a fun character with many good traits, but at the same time he’s still relatable as he just wants to find his dream. We need more characters like Flynn Rider in my opinion – he could certainly show Kristoff from Frozen a thing or two about being a hero!

 

 

Agree with my list? Disagree? What heroes do you believe are badass/make you swoon/question your own sexuality? Comment below to let me know.

 

Thanks for reading guys! Stay safe.

 

 

 

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PANDRAGON DAN

 

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Top Five Worst Heroes/Heroine in my opinion

Everyone loves a good hero. In fact, a hero is the basis of all great storytelling. Whether they are an underdog, a warrior, or just someone that wants to make something of their lives, a good hero/heroine will keep the audiences sympathies and keep them entertained throughout as they follow their journey from beginning to end, supporting them all the way.

 

But sometimes, just sometimes, you come across a hero or heroine that is just so unlikeable, you just want to punch them! Whether it’s because they are selfish, badly written, or just plan villainous in their actions, these are the type of characters who just want to make you sarcastically cry out “Our hero, ladies and gentlemen!” (apologies to Linkara)

 

And today, in this blog, I look at my personal Top Five of what I consider to be the worst heroes/heroines ever written. These are the Top Five characters that, for some reason or another, just p*** me off! And maybe they will to you to. So let’s get down to it.

 

A few things before I start, because I’ll probably open a hornets’ nest in this list. Firstly, I WILL mention some characters that are beloved by many, so please bear in mind that A) this is just MY opinion and B) this is not 100% serious and not intended to be taken entirely seriously. I will elaborate on why I think these characters are so unlikeable as heroes so as to justify their reason for being here. Hopefully I won’t get trolled too much for this!

 

Anyway, before we start, some honourable mentions.

 

 

Bella Swan from Twilight and Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars Prequels

 

Yeah, yeah, I know that EVERYONE and their mother has done blogs/videos about these characters and how they are so obnoxious, whinny and completely transparent (just to name a couple of examples, the Nostalgia Critic Listed Bella as number one in his Top 11 Dumbasses in Distress videos and the Distressed Watcher did a whole video on the Star Wars Prequels, listing how Anakin was a whinny little brat), and personally I don’t have anything more to add to that.

 

Besides, the examples I’m giving I fell are WORSE than Bella and Anakin put together! So let’s go on, shall we?

 

 

 

1. Duke Nukem of the Duke Nuken Games

 

Duke Nukem may have wow’d the video game world with his early games – but since Duke Nukem Forever he’s become somewhat of a pariah. Now I’ve played Duke Nukem Forever and it’s not really as bad as people say it is – but after about 12 years in development, you would have expected something a little better than this.

 

So, what don’t I like about Duke Nukem? Well, in many ways, he is pretty cool. His voice has a cool, Clint Eastwood type tone, he can kick alien ass while cracking jokes, and he just oozes machismo from everywhere – making him kinda like a cross between James Bond and Arnold Schwarzenegger. But honestly, I find him one of the most sexist characters in video game history.

 

Not that I’m trying to sound like a feminist, but I kinda have a problem with the fact that the only female characters in the game are scantily clad strippers, nude women who have been abducted, or just random chicks who want to get off with Duke. This isn’t the 40’s anymore, this kinda of attitude just doesn’t work in this day and age. Ok, so I may have written a few sexy females into my stories – but I do at least try and give them a personality to go along with it so that they aren’t just there for fan service.

 

Now, Duke Nukem does have a certain level of parody to it, so I wouldn’t really be worried about this too much – if not for the hive level in Duke Nukem Forever. In that level, he finds that women have been abducted and impregnated by aliens (there is even a scene where a couple of hookers from the beginning of the game explode with aliens from their belly and dying in a completely inappropriate way) and he has to kill them to stop the aliens coming forth. Does he show any remorse or sympathy for killing these poor women to save their pain? No, he just continues to crack jokes and doesn’t show any hint of sympathy for his actions. That is just despicable! And don’t even get me started on the “wall boobs” scene.

 

Overall, Duke’s type of humour just feels dated and few I think would actually find him funny. I get the odd chuckle from here there and now, but otherwise I just find Duke a really unlikeable hero – especially with his attitude towards women.

 

 

 

2. Light Yagami, AKA Kira from Death Note

 

Even thought I have an interest in Anime/Manga, Death Note is just one of those stories that I’m just not really into. Main reason – I think the main character is just a complete monster. Some people have praised the fact that Light (aka Kira) is a character that you can both love and hate, but honestly, I just can’t stand the guy. Even though I get his motivations, I just can’t support him.

 

For those who don’t know this series (adapted from a Manga and turned into an Anime and live action film), Death Note is about a boy that comes into possession of the Death Note, a book that kills anyone when someone’s name is written on it. Light uses this book to start killing the criminals of the world (along with a personification of Death), but eventually becomes corrupted by power and gains a god complex. The crux of the story features a team of investigators trying to track down Kira (as he has named himself), led by L – a highly intelligent young man determined to bring him down.

 

Now, I can understand Light’s motives to a certain level – he wants to bring justice in the world. But the problem I find is that he is willing to put innocent people – even members of his own family – in danger to do so! I’m sorry, but I can’t support anyone like that! If Light had some sort of redeeming qualities to his character (in the way that Tony Soprano did) then I would probably get behind him a little more. But because he is so focused on his goal and doesn’t care who he has to step on to do so, then I just wished he would get his comeuppance.

 

Luckily (SPOILERS AHEAD!) he does! Eventually he is caught and trapped. But Light, in his arrogance, summons the spirit of Death, telling him to write a name in the Death Note to show his power. Death writes in Light’s name, having grown tired of him, and finally Light gets a taste of his own medicine! Even though his death is kinda drawn out, it is satisfying to see the cocky little s*** beg for his life.

 

Light is quite possibly one of the worst heroes in Anime – possibly even in existence. I would say he is just as bad (if not worse than) King Joffery from A Game of Thrones, or A Song of Ice and Fire if you want to go by the book series. Sorry to any Death Note fans reading this, but I just really don’t like this character.

 

 

 

3. Napoleon Dynamite

 

I’m probably one of the few people that didn’t find Napoleon Dynamite the least bit funny – partly because I found the main character so unlikeable! How unlikeable?

 

Well, I’m gonna leave a link to a video by The Cinema Snob, from his The Worst Films of the Decade (done back in late 2009), in which he featured Napoleon Dynamite on there. Skip the video to around 14:32 and listen to what he says about the character of Napoleon Dynamite – because pretty much everything he says in that video is what I would say about the character and I would just be repeating him! (Contains some swearing).

 

http://thecinemasnob.com/2009/12/29/the-worst-films-of-the-decade.aspx

 

Ok, that was a short one – moving on!

 

 

 

4. Benjamin Spooner Briggs from Limbo of the Lost

 

This one not many of you will probably know about – and for good reason. Limbo of the Lost is a point and click adventure that was released around 2008 for the PC – but was quickly halted and pulled from sale. Why? Because it was discovered that the backgrounds were ripped off from other games, Elder Scrolls, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Thief – even the opening sequence is directed ripped off from a scene in the Spawn movie! And that’s just SOME of the things they plagiarised. Nowadays, copies of the game are kinda hard to find and are somewhat of a collector’s item – but as a game it is just horrible! The animation is poor, the story makes no sense and the acting is just terrible!

 

But anyway, onto the character of Benjamin Spooner Briggs (who has a perfect English accent in this game, even though I’m pretty sure the original Captain Briggs was American – please correct me if I’m wrong). After the sailing of the Marie Celeste, Briggs was taken by two supernatural beings and forced into the land of Limbo, where he must try and find a way of escape and overcome his fears.

 

Pretty basic story, but the way Briggs has to do this usually revolves around people getting hurt in some way, shape or form. And does he show any remorse to it? Not a bit! He walks across a wooden board, causing dust to fall into someone eyes, causing them to be eaten by a wood insect – barely bats an eyelid. He has to look at a paper to get some information, so rather than just asking if he could have a look, he blinds the poor fellow! Not only that, but when he’s investigating several mysterious deaths by a mad cult, resulting in many more people dying in the process, does he show even the slightly hint of remorse? Nope! Not at all.

 

Ok, so compared to others on the list, he isn’t that bad a character – but he doesn’t seem to show any real emotion to the things going around him – nor does he really make any attempt to understand the characters around him and their plight. But mainly, he’s just a dull character and you can’t really get behind him because he has no personality.

 

But there is one thing I WILL show you – the ending to Limbo of the Lost. It is one of the most bat**** crazy things I’ve ever seen in my life! Normally I would give a spoiler warning, but because this game is so bad, and has no real story, I think I can get away with this.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URcvdDtnM_0

 

Ok, now onto number 5. Boy and I about to open Pandora’s Box on this one!

 

 

 

5. Padme Amidala from Star Wars Prequels

 

Remember how I said at the beginning that there were worse characters than Anakin Skywalker and Bella Swan? Well, here she is! Padme Amidala! Possibly the worst heroine in the history of Star Wars - and even fiction itself!

 

Now, I’ll admit, at first I found this character just mildly annoying. She was bland, didn’t do anything and her relationship with Anakin was just plain awkward and the dynamics between the two characters was non existant. Which is a shame as I think Natalie Portman is a fantastic actress (her roles in Leon and Black Swan were just amazing), so she was wasted here. But after reading a blog that appeared in my Triberr stream, going onto explain why Padme is one of the worst characters ever (I can’t remember the name of the blogger, nor remember the link, but if that person is reading this, then thank you for opening my eyes) I now have to say I totally 100% agree with everything she said and can’t believe that I missed it the first time.

 

Like I said, at first I thought Padme was just a bland character that served little than a plot device – but there are two instances which highlight her as both an unlikeable heroine and an idiot. Spoilers follow.

 

The first is from Attack of the Clones when Anakin admits to her that he slaughtered an entire village of Sand People, the ones who took his mother. He even admits to killing women and children and saying how much he hated them. How does Padme react to this? “Being angry is to be human!”

 

 

Ok, two things. Firstly, in The Phantom Menace, Yoda explained that anger is one of the powers of the Dark Side of the Force. So you do NOT say this to a Jedi – and being around Jedi’s for so long she should know this. Secondly, he just admitted that he committed mass genocide and her reaction was just “Meh, s*** happens.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Maybe Padme just has a thing for murdering maniacs – she and Kratos from God of War should hook up!

 

But the second thing, which is what the other blogger mentioned, is what cements her as the worst heroine ever. In Revenge of the Sith, after she is choked by Anakin, she is taken to a medical bay. The doctor says that she is dying, even though she is medically fine – she has just lost the will to live. Not only that, she is pregnant with twins (who we know will be Luke and Leia). But all she can think about is Anakin, the guy that tried to kill her.

 

So, let me get this straight – she’s about to die, about to leave her two children motherless, and all because she can’t stop thinking about a guy who tried to kill her. WHAT A COW!!! I mean seriously! How dumb is this b****?

 

Now some Star Wars fans have defended Padme, saying that she believes that she can turn him back to the side of good and be a pure source for him. Sadly, I don’t buy that for one second. I find it hard to believe that ANY woman, no matter how much she cared for a man, would want to associate herself with a murdering, needy freak like Anakin, unless she herself was not right in the head. To me, the whole Padme/Anakin thing seems to glorify abusive relationships and tell the audience that it’s ok to be in one. And that is just horrible!

 

It’s a shame, because Padme is really the only female character in the series (aside from a few female Jedi and some other minor characters), so the series is lacking a good, strong heroine. And the heroine that is in it is little more than a dumbass in distress. I never thought I’d say this, but Padme is so bad, she even makes Jar-Jar Binks tolerable!

 

 

Ok, so that’s my list. Hope you enjoyed it and please leave a comment below. Do you agree or disagree with me? Is there a hero/heroine that I missed out? Please let me know as I would love to hear it.

 

And just to finish off, Happy St Patricks Day everyone! Go out and, as Father Jack from Father Ted would say – DRINK!

 

 

 

----------------------------

PANDRAGON

 

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Thou Shalt Not Kill?

 
As many of you probably know, when I was young, I used to watch a lot of kid’s cartoons and read a lot of comic books. Whether it was Thundercats, He-Man, She-Ra, Transformers, Spider-Man, Batman – the list goes on – there was always one defining factor that I noticed in all the heroes. And that was their refusal to kill. Of course, I understand that these shows were intended for kids, so they had to kinda play down the violence and death (unless it was robots in which case they could smash the living crud out of them), but at the same time, I always had to admire these characters. Despite the fact that they would often go up against  some really horrible villains (Batman in particular), they never killed and always held themselves back (usually) from going down that dark path.
 
These days, many readers/viewers tend to prefer their heroes a little bit darker and action packed – the kinda gung-ho type character that goes in guns blazing and shooting the living hell out of anything that moves. In a lot of books that I’ve read in the YA action genre includes a hero/heroine that goes around killing anything that gets in their way – and if you’re an evil doer you’d best say your prayers!
 
This may sound strange – but I really am not into those kinda characters.
 
Now, this may come as a shock to you reading this, seeing as I am a fan of Manga and Fantasy, both of which usually include characters that are known for dispatching enemies in the most over the top way possible. And I won’t lie that is the case. But here’s my thing – and you can call me old fashioned for saying this – but I believe that a hero needs to have a kind of ethical code, or represent a type of morality. They need to be the light in the darkness in any fiction. But if they go around, wildly murdering anyone at random (villain or not) then why should I support them?
 
I know what you may be thinking. “What the hell are you talking about? All heroes these days are super-powered killers! It’s been that way for a while!” True, I won’t deny that. And if you look at 99% of video game heroes, they often have to go through a game slaughtering villains to complete the game. Let me also make something clear – I don’t have a problem with these types of characters really. Heck, one of my favourite fictional characters is The Punisher and he pretty much blows the crap out of anything he sees in his relentless pursuit of the criminals. But it’s only because I understand his motivations – I mean the guy saw his family gunned down before his eyes. That would drive anyone to revenge. In order for me to follow a character like this, I have to understand why they are doing this and what their motivations are. If I know that, then I can just about overlook the fact that they are murderers.
Another good example is the main character from Kill Bill (spoilers follow). In that film, the main character is a retired assassin that is attacked on her wedding day and her husband and unborn child (supposedly) is killed. THAT is a good plot for a revenge story – I can understand her motivations for revenge because of what happened to her.
 
I seem to have gone off topic slightly, so let me bring it back. Here is a problem that I have with many “anti-hero” characters that just go in guns blazing. Usually, in any action movie, the main hero and villains will have some kind of a shoot out, randomly destroying anything and everything in their path, blowing up buildings, etc. This I have a problem with, reason being – what if innocents are caught up in the fight and hurt? I’m sorry, but if the hero is willing to put innocents at risk just to get to the bad guy, then I have no cause to support them. This is one of the reasons why I HATED the later Transformers films – because the Autobots always had big battles in the city that caused much destruction, putting innocents at risk. But in the old days, the Transformers would NEVER do anything to put humans in danger as they respected the humans and wanted to protect them.
 
Now, some say that a character that doesn’t kill could be considered a weak character, hence why they don’t appear that often. Not true – if anything I think a character that refuses to kill has great power to them. These characters have a moral strength to them that symbolises true heroism. The fact that characters like Superman and Spider-Man, who have strength enough to kill a human being with one punch, have learned to limit their strength so that they don’t kill their opponents is a testament to their power as a hero – one who refuses to go down the dark path.
 
If the above aren’t good enough examples, how about Batman, arguably the greatest superhero ever created. He saw his family gunned down when he was young. By all accounts, he should have snapped mentally – but Batman has always kept a strong moral presence, refusing to lower himself to the level of a criminal. He’s been tempted, oh boy has he been tempted, especially by the Joker – but he has never deviated from that and always kept his morality. That alone makes him one of the most enduring superheroes of all time.
 
Personally, I think that in a world filled with “kill em all” heroes, having a hero with a No-Kill Policy is more important now than ever before. As I said before, heroes have to represent an ethical code in order for the audience to associate with them. That doesn’t mean that they have to be all high and mighty and pure of heart (in fact, I like heroes that are a little bit mean spirited and dark occasionally), but as long as they are willing to show morality when the time comes then they can truly stand above the other so called “heroes”. And hell, what better trope is there than a villain testing a heroes No Kill Policy then by testing the levels of their mercy. If done right, this can make for some extremely powerful storytelling.
 
In conclusion, and for me personally, I will never shy away from creating dark characters, or characters that have some villainous qualities. But when it comes to creating heroes, I will always aim to make them have some kind of ethical quality to make them stand above the darkness and bring light to the world. It may be old fashioned, but these where the type of heroes and heroines that I grew up with and will always have a place in my heart.
 
Of course, this is just my opinion. Please feel free to leave me a comment or a tweet on my twitter account if you agree/disagree, or even have an alternative point to put across.
 
Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!
 
 

Pandragon

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Top Five Tips - Creating Strong Heroes (In My Opinion)

Well, seeing as I already did a Top Five Tips about villains, it seems logical that I would do ones about heroes as well. So here we are!

 

In many ways, in my opinion, heroes are actually some the hardest characters to try and create. People might argue that villains are difficult to try and write, but I think that heroes can be equally as difficult to try and create.

 

A protagonist of any story (be they a hero or heroine) is usually the centre of any story. They are the ones that the audience supports, the ones who have to go on a journey of discovery, to fight against unsummontable odds in order to achieve their goal. Whether it be to save a love on, find a special type of item, or just to get closure for a past trauma, the heroes journey should affect the reader and make us want the character to succeed in their goals.

 

Yet, to be honest, more often than not heroes can come across as sometimes bland and uninteresting, mainly because the story doesn't give us enough motivation or character development for us to truly care about them. Other times, the characters are just way too perfect and end up becoming Mary-Sue's or Gary Stu's (which I did a blog about a month or so back), meaning that there is actually no drama to their character as they can always solve any situations. But other times, a hero can be just downright spiteful and unlikeable. This, I think is partially down to the rise of the "anti-hero", whereby the hero is has a darker streak and ends up killing everyone that crosses their path. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with this, but if a heroes only goal is to kill everything in site, why should we want to support them?

 

For me personally, a hero has to represent some kind of moral ethic. They have to be a symbol of hope when there is nothing but darkness, a role model that teaches readers about humanity and morals. They don't have to be perfect or clear cut - in fact I think the best heroes are the ones with human flaws - but they do need to have enough characteristics for the audience to understand why their journey is necessary. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of these sort of "go in guns blazing" action heroes that blow everything up in sight, mainly because they seem to have little care for any innocent life that may be damaged in their rampage. A true hero should care about life and not be so keen to take it (whether they be a villain or an innocent) and should only kill as a last resort. These are the sorts of things that I look for when I write a hero character.

 

So in view of that, the following is my list of characters that (in my opinion) represent heroism in fiction. Whilst these characters are heroes in my eyes, that doesn't meant that they are all perfect and utterly good. Many of them have some rather dark subtext to them, but they all still represent a part of heroism that I find important to their characters. So without further ado, let's begin!

1. Will Kane from High Noon
 

Played brilliantly by the actor Gary Cooper (the "strong, silent type"), Will Kane is a sheriff in a little western town that has decided to turn in his life in the law to marry his sweetheart. And all looks well - until an old villain that Kane helped put away returns to take his revenge. Kane has until noon to get out of town before Frank Miller (that's the villain of the film, not the artist) arrives to take him out.

 

But rather than run away, Kane decides to stay and fight, knowing that he's responsible for Miller being allowed to walk free in the first place. So he sits tight and tries to gather a posse to try and fight Frank and his team. Unfortunately, no one seems keen to help Kane, even after all the good he does, people just turn their backs. In fact, many people want Kane out of the town to avoid violence. With all the odds stacked against him, Kane loses hope - but in the end he stays to confront his enemy.

 

Kane is a testiment to the old saying "a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do". When faced with problems, he doesn't run away but faces them head on. Heck, the tagline of the film is even "the story of a man that was too proud to run". Even though he's alone and outgunned, and his chances of survival are extremely low, he still stands to face a problem he himself created. Will Kane is a true metaphor about facing down your problems head on, even when it's hopeless. And that, for me, makes him a hero.

2. Mal Reynolds from Firefly/Serenity

 

Many of you may not have seen the TV series Firefly as it was cancelled (rather unfairly) after just one series. But hopefully with the release of the film Serenity in 2005 more people would know about. It truely is one of the most underrated sci-fi series in history. Created by Joss Whedon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Firefly is a kind of space western set around a gang of space smugglers, running from the totalitarian Alliance and just trying to make an "honest" living.

 

Malcolm Reynolds (or Mal as he known) is the leader of this band; and whilst the rest of the cast are brilliantly written, with deep, thoughtful personalities, Mal is the highlight of the show. In his former life he was a soldier that fought a losing battle with the Alliance, the loss at the battle of Serenity left him with a loss of faith and a hatred of the Alliance. However, rather than trying to fight against them, he spends most of his time running away from them, avoiding direct confrontation.

 

Many would probably see Mal as an anti-hero, as he does tend to shoot first without asking questions, and he is pretty selfish and mean spirited. In fact, he even makes Han Solo look like Mr Niceguy! But at the same time, he does have a moral code and he geninuely does care about his crew. Whilst his ways of dealing with them are sometimes a little cold and uncarring, he does value them as true crew members and will put himself in danger to help them - unless they cross him. His interactions with the characters are wonderful and the way they play off him is just magical. The characters in Firefly have a dynamic that seems lacking in any TV series. I also love the "relationship" he has with the character Inara, as they clearly love each other - but their scenes often go unspoken. And when she leaves, he does become a darker character.

 

In actual fact, Mal doesn't really become a hero until the film Serenity, but the reason I think he's a great hero is that he he does have heroic traits in him, but his fear and nihlistic look on life holds him back. But when he finds something worth fighting for, he steps up and faces it head on. Also, he has some of the best one liners for a hero ever, one of which is when the ship is about to crash and he tells his crew "we may experience some slight turbulance - and then explode!"

 

Mal is all about finding the hero inside yourself and knowing when to do the right thing. Mal for me was a huge inspiration for creating one of my characters in my book and I still use him as influence when I want to try and create a developing hero.

3. Ellen Ripley from the Alien Francise


Score one for the ladies! Actually, I've included Ellen Ripley in this list because I know that a few of you were a little upset (based on the emails I got) that I didn't include Ripley when I talked about the Top Five Strong Female Characters. Whilst I stand by the choices I made in that list, I agree that I should have included Ripley as she is an awesome character. Hopefully this will make up for it!

 

Let me make one thing clear, just because I didn't include Ripley in the aforemention list doesn't mean that I never considered her a strong female lead. In fact I think Ripley is the ultimate heroine in science fiction. Even though she starts off as a frightened women in the first film, by the end of the second film, she has gained a strength and confidence that she never thougth possible - taking control of the situation and helping the remaining marines survive. Part of this is down to her finding the young girl Newt and becoming some sort of mothering figure to her. From then one, Ripley will lay down her own life to protect Newt, even going toe to toe with the Alien Queen!

 

Ripley represents a different kind of heroism - being a parent or guardian. Raising a child is a form of heroism in itself, protecting them from danger, even if it means at the cost of their own life. This is actually a theme that features in my upcoming sequel to Trapped on Draconica (I really must stop with these shameless plugs!) and is actually a theme that does feature in many of my books.

 

Also, I have to give Ripley props as she has one of the best film quotes ever! At the climax of Aliens, when the Alien Queen has smuggled aboard their ship and attacks Newt, Ripley comes out, suited up in a power suit, she takes a few steps forward towards the queen and cries, "Get away from her you BITCH!" This line ALWAYS makes me cheer out loud. It's one of what I like to call a "it's on now!" line, whereby the hero and villain duke it out in a fight to the death. And the fight between the Queen and Ripley is just awesome to watch!

 

So yeah, Ripley is a great heroine and I now actually feel bad for not including her in my Strong Female Leads list, or at least giving her a mention. Hopefully this wil make up for it.

4. Homer Simpson from... oh you should know who he is by now!

 

For me, Homer is a hero for an entirely different reason. He doesn't fight against any monsters, or evil tyrant (with the exception of maybe Mr Burns) or even have a quest to achieve. No, he fights against an entirely different enemy - the mediocrity of modern day life!

 

Homer pretty much represents a state of mind that I would be happy with - being able to just relax whenever I wanted to, unrestricted by the mundane running of normal life. Not a slave to money but able to do whatever he wants, when he wants - and he won't let simple things like common sense get in the way! He is a child that refuses to grow up and an adult that wouldn't be able to cope without his family.

 

Homer is a character that often rages against the machine, although not always for the right reasons. Always coming up with hairbrained schemes, usually starting for the most stupidest of reasons (such as running for sanitation commissioner just because he wouldn't apologise for being rude to some garbage men), his schemes often end up badly, even if the initial success proves worthy. Homer just wants to live his life the way he wants to and has his own morals to life.

 

That being said, not all his fights and schemes are a good idea and it's always his family that makes Homer see sense when they see he has gone too far. If not for his family, Homer would probably fall apart on many occassions. The fact that he still HAS a family after some of the things he had got up to is a miracle in itself.

 

Selfish, lazy, stupid and even extremely dispicable, we none the less love Homer Simpson because, despite some of his ideas being just downright stupid, he actually does have the best of intentions - even if they are just for himself. Homer wages an eternal battle against the mundane, seeking solice and excitment wherever possible. Homer teaches us that we need to spend life the way we want to and get the best out of it - just so long as we don't endanger others in the process!

       

5 . Spider-Man AND Batman

 

I'll be honest, I was REALLY conflicted about which one of these two characters to choose, because they were so similar to each other and I felt that I put them both in the list there would be a lack of varriation in the ones I choose.

 

When it comes to superheroes, Spider-Man and Batman are the ones that have always stood out for me. Superman may be an icon in comics, but I never really felt he was that interesting as a superhero. Batman and Spider-Man were always the stand out ones because they were more HUMAN than most other superheros and they both also represented a kind of ethics to their character.

 

Spider-Man, whilst he does have superpowers, he is still human at heart. Let's not forget that Spider-Man, when he first started, was just a teenager. As well as being a superhero, he also had to juggle a job, school and a personal life and this always created tensions and conflicts within his life. Being Spider-Man means that he has missed out on most of his young adult hood and has ultimately impacted on his real life - to the point where he has even considered not being Spider-Man anymore, but it's all because of a promise he made that he continues on his quest.

 

When he first started, Spider-Man actually used his powers to be a wrestler and earn some money. But when a burglar robbed the arena that he fought at, Spider-Man decided not to stop him as it wasn't his problem. Until he got home and found his Uncle Ben had been shot. When he caught the criminal, he realised that it was the same one that he should have stopped at the arena. This is when he learned that with great power, comes great responsiblity. It's a mantra that he still goes by even today. Spider-Man never uses his powers recklessly and will always try to make sure no innocents are harmed. He will also never kill any villain, showing them a kind of mercy that most heroes wouldn't, because he knows that villains are just victims in their own rights. Despite all the problems in his life, Spider-Man fights on in spite of the problems that come up in his life.

 

Batman is equally as moral and pure a superhero as Spider-Man. He witnessed his parents murdered at a young age, something that should have drawn him to madness. But Batman then used all his resources and wealth to fight crime, training himself to the peak of physical perfection and training his mind to become the worlds greatest detective.

 

What Batman lacks in real superpowers, he makes up for in real technological genius. His superpower is his brain as he's able to work out an enemies weaknesses and exploit them - beating enemies that even Superman couldn't beat! He uses his wealth to create a number of different weapons and gadgets to use against his enemies and these, coupled with his incredible athletic skill, make him a force to be reckoned with.

 

But I think what makes Batman such a great hero is that, despite all the darkness in his life, despite the fact that he has faced some truly evil characters, he has NEVER abandoned his moral ways. He has always stayed true to his belief in justice and will never kill if he can avoid it. He represents a symbol of hope for Gotham, which is crawling with chaos - and this is why many other superheroes respect and look up to him.

 

So, the big question is - who gets the number five spot? Well, to be honest, I think that BOTH these characters deserve a spot here as they both represent the ethics of heroism and morals that I have been talking about. Despite the darkness in their life, they never faulter. So I'm making them JOINT winners here. Yeah, you can say that I'm cheating - but hey, it's MY list!
 

 

Well, I guess that about covers it. Do you agree with my choices? Did I miss anyone out? Who is YOUR favourite hero/heroine? Please feel free to email me or comment below for your views.

 

Have a great weekend folks, there will be another Top Five Tips.

 

Don't forget that you still have time to take advantage of "Read an Ebook Week" on Smashwords and get 50% discount of both Trapped on Draconica and The Wandering Valkyr. Click on the picture below to go to the previous blog.

 

Kindest

Pandragon

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