Well guys, I’ve been gone for a bit but I’m back now, and I’ve got the next installment of my series on archetypal heroes and their importance to our stories. My first post briefly discussed the tragic hero and gave a few examples, so for this post I want to analyze the reluctant hero.
the_avengers__bruce_banner__the_hulk_wallpaper_by_rainbowplays1-d5dawtbThe reluctant hero is most often an ordinary person who is forced to rise to meet extraordinary circumstances or is an extraordinary person who desires not to use their powers or abilities for the sake of others around. Because of this bipartisan definition, it should be obvious that reluctant heroes can come in many shapes and sizes. In fact, the types of reluctant heroes that audiences more frequently bond with are those who lack any extraordinary qualities. We bond with them because we could be them; that is why the reluctant hero works. Of course, there are reluctant heroes who DO exhibit extraordinary powers. Perhaps the most obvious that comes to my mind is Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk. He has immense power, but with that power he also becomes a danger to society–to the very people he would want to help. He sees his most heroic action to be isolating himself from places where he might accidentally do more harm than good, but in the end he is forced into action. Another example of this can be seen in the movie version of Aragorn, from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He alone holds the power to fulfill a prophecy and retake the throne that is rightfully his, and yet in the movies he is reluctant to do so. Why? Partly, I think, because he is ashamed of his heritage and the treachery that came from it. But all that aside, the reluctant hero will always choose heroism when forced into a choice. He will do what he must, when he must, and not a moment sooner; and I think that is just one more reason why we connect so easily to these characters–they aren’t cocky or obnoxious, often they are just normal people, and yet they can be relied on when they are needed most. Everyone desires reliability.

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