Hey guys, it’s time for another post in my discussion of the different archetypal heroes so for this week I’ve chosen the opposite of archetype I chose for my last post–the willing hero. Unlike the reluctant hero who tries to ignore his heroism, the willing hero knows his own heroism and accepts the responsibilities of it. Two obvious examples of this would be Spiderman and Captain America; heroes whose unwavering senses of virtue and justice compel them to be heroes even when that means going against their own personal desires. This archetype is often paired with a character flaw of varying degrees such as pride or overconfidence which delay the fulfillment of the quest and must be overcome. This is, in my personal opinion, one of the more difficult archetypes to write well; it is abysmally easy to create a hero that is a turn-off because of their willingness. On the other hand, though, some of the most successful hero stories reflect this archetype.
It is difficult to effectively write this archetype because the easiest way to do so is to give the character a flaw. This is a problem because often I see a lesser flaw over-accentuated to compensate for the abilities and willingness of the hero–simply put, it becomes unbelievable. Nevertheless, it is tempting to do this because we can’t give the hero a flaw that would make him unwilling, yet we must give him some sort of flaw because a perfect, willing hero is a boring hero. So, in our attempts to create a balanced and willing hero who is also interesting to read about we choose to forgo a requirement of character development in favor of a more interesting character at the start of the story; I don’t think I need to explain why this doesn’t work well. It makes a better story to develop a boring character into an interesting one than to create an interesting character and have nothing interesting to do with it.
All in all this is usually not my favorite heroic archetype, although it does bring a lot to the table and it when it is done well it can be very successful. I consider it to be a high risk, high reward character archetype.