Good day, Nerds! I wish to put the following question to you; so give it some earnest thought. How many recent (sic) heroic adventure stories actually show the protagonist choose the heroic path? As in, are they deliberately motivated to take action? Alternatively, do their possibly-dire circumstances give them no reason NOT to go for it?
I'm fully aware that this IS a nitpick. Mentioning this will earn you no points. Rather, give me an example of a character seen as a hero— something from the last century ought to do— and back up your statement with evidence. Oooh, and a photo, please. First come, first served, so the most compelling / entertaining argument will accrue the most points. Yes, there's a point system, now. Prizes to be sorted out later. I'll start.
I love me some Star Wars. I do. Luke is more or less an iconic example of the Hero, complete with moment of doubt. He longs for more from life, he feels he has something important to do... and he can't. When Obi-Wan invites him to come to Alderaan and learn the ways of the Force, Luke says no. He has to stay w/ Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru.
BUT: It's not until they're cruelly murdered that Luke says goodbye to Tatooine, there's nothing keeping him there anymore. Did he really choose to leave? Or did he run out of obstacles?
This is obviously referring just to the MCU Thunder God. At the start of his arc, Thor... well, he's kind of an arrogant prick. He's had power and privilege his whole life, a recipe for a spoiled, entitled Thunder Jerk if ever I saw one.
It's not until he's grounded (Get it? DO YOU GET IT) on Midgard with no power, no hammer, and no privilege that he gets his first taste of humility. He takes it about as well as a bratty ten year old forced to take awful, crap-flavored medicine.
It helps that said medicine is delivered by Dr. Jane Foster. I'd say it helps significantly. Thor's goal— reclaim his hammer and all it represents— doesn't change until Jane and the other Midgard mortals are put in danger by the Destroyer. Thor sticks around to save lives, his first taste of real nobility.
I won't beat around the bush: Steve Rogers did everything in his extremely limited power to fight the good fight. The Super Soldier Serum and Vita Rays... they just brought the best of what was already in there.
He never had that moment of doubt that so many heroes face. If it's the right thing to do, Captain America is going to do it.
Verdict: Of freaking course.
At first I wasn't convinced that the Dark Knight actually passed this test. From the moment his parents are killed, Bruce is just a vessel for hatred and a hunger for revenge. But he gets better. Granted, it takes over a decade and years of training, but ultimately Bruce DOES choose to take his vendetta and pour it into a pursuit of Justice, not simple vengeance.
Verdict: He's Batman.
I think that's enough to start. Shout out with your favorite hero or anti-hero in the comments, and let me know if you think they qualify or not.
Casey Jones is a screenwriter and VO artist with a day job. He's no hero, but he'll do until the hero gets here.