To be a hero, or not to be a hero. That is the question.
The answer, however, is more complicated than you may think.
Let’s do a mental exercise—because burning calories and being healthy is trendy. 😉
What’s the first thing that pops into your head when I say “hero”?
Maybe this guy?
Or this dashing fellow?
The point is, we all have a predetermined impression of what a hero is. Just like we all have a predetermined impression of what a chocolate chip cookie is. Mmmm…cookies, anyone?
(Um…wait. So much for burning calories.) 😛
Getting back to heroes, what if I told you…
What are the defining features of a hero? Let’s take a look. I found this handy document in the Archive of Awesomeness on my last visit, and it does an excellent job of detailing what traits make someone a hero.
What Defines a Hero: A Reference
Once upon a time, there was a disturbingly cliché way to begin a description on the nature of the equally disturbingly clichéd notion of the hero.
If that first sentence didn’t scare you off, congratulations. Your mental strength is greater than most. We can now begin our exploration of the nature of a hero.
Understand that for the sake of brevity and ease of use, we (collectively known as “Hero Experts”) refer to all heroic figures, whether male or female, with the generic term “he.”
First, the obvious. After years of study and investigation, it is our conclusion that a hero must, under any circumstances, be able to attract a beautiful romantic interest. Otherwise, what’s the point of his existence?
He must be able to navigate the treacherous waters of romance with the agility of a turtle and the mobility of an elephant. Getting the girl should be an achievement completely foreign to his understanding, yet indisputably attainable.
Moving on, another defining feature of the hero is his build. Big, tall, muscular. Lots of biceps and abs. General buffness. Studies have shown that such physique makes for a drastic improvement of chances in relation to the first point (see above).
An ability to fight is highly coveted. Even more coveted is the ability to learn how to fight—and excel!—with minimal training.
Yet the most coveted ability of all is to be indestructible. No matter what the enemy and his minions hurl, the hero must withstand like a palm tree in a hurricane, bending but never breaking. No matter how many times life slams him to the ground, the hero must bounce back like a rubber ball.
We come now to the area of family life, where there is but one maxim. No parents allowed.
The hero, if possible, should show adeptness in befriending a mysterious person whose fondness for a pipe is only matched by a fondness for growing a beard of alarming proportions.
Leaving home is often a necessity. It’s preferred that the courage and strength to embark on a journey is a hallmark of the hero’s characteristics.
A hero is many times judged by his personality. Thus, for maximum effect, he ought to have one of intelligence, wit, and a healthy dash of recklessness.
No matter the mental prowess of the villain, the hero must show himself capable of rising to the challenge, yes, and even to the level above his opponent.
To maintain a heroic air, the hero must keep his friends and family (except for parents, because they aren’t allowed!) in the dark as to his exploits. Lying if necessary is acceptable, if phrased as so: “I’m doing this to protect you.”
One of the following things is preferred: a fat bank account, access to cool tech “toys,” ability to perform magic, or a startling power of some type. Check all four boxes and you have a megahero (not the same as a superhero).
In the long run…Failure. Is. Not. An. Option.
In conclusion, it’s our (once again, the “Hero Experts”) opinion that by all standards and decency of storytelling, these traits we’ve listed act as requisite stones in the foundation of all around heroness.
Quite the summary, wouldn’t you say?
It makes one think about what it actually means to be a hero. 😉
On that subject, what would you add to the list of what defines someone as a hero? I’d love to hear your thoughts here or on social media.