The main character in screenwriting is often referred to as the hero. They differ from the main characters or protagonist in a film, because they must display great strength and courage to battle intense danger. They are more than fighters who battle the bad guys. They are selfless warriors who play the long game.
Despite their brutality on the battlefield, a true hero must also display compassion, warmth and patience with those weaker than him. They can be humble, honorable and display humility at the task bestowed on them.
A true hero must display true wisdom and virtuosity, even when they aren’t fully aware of the magnitude of their opponents, they display a sense of duty and commitment to a greater cause. Most of all, they are prepared for sacrifice, because the positive outcome of their actions may come after they have died.
Heroes are often elevate to demi-god status and generally display nobility and high moral standing. However, anti-heroes define themselves by their anti-heroic, unorthodox attitudes, despite their winning in the end.
Traditional heroes often display super-human traits such as fearlessness, valor and conviction even when the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against them. They face battle with an unrealistic positive attitude.
Heroes must also be master strategists; even when they appear haphazard in their approach. They can’t be rash, impulsive or reckless in their fight. They can’t display hubris or arrogance during their quest.
Non-traditional heroes display a larger spectrum of personality traits resembling the average Joe or Jane. This makes them more human and intimately relatable to audiences.
More recent films are steering clear of the traditional heroic archetype. Here are some of the main types of non-traditional heroes:
The underdog is typified by being physically and mentally weak, has few allies and resources and is unlikely to succeed. His (or her) biggest assets are their resourcefulness and their enemies’ underestimation of their abilities.
Audiences often root for underdogs because they work hard and deserve to win.
I’ve discussed anti-heroes at length in other posts, so I’ll keep this brief. They are morally flawed and tread the dubious line of villainhood. They are aware of their spurious morality, but believe are Machiavellian in their approach and believe the end justifies the means.
Despite their flaws such as gambling, substance abuse or not spending time with the family, audiences tolerate them because they symbolize our daily struggles. They are real, honest and tell it like it is.
This type of hero is average in every respect of their lives. Yet they still manage to save the world. They live in the suburbs, have an average jobs and drive to the grocery store.
The every person hero reminds us that heroes are made not born. We all have the potential to make a difference, no matter what our background is.
Sometimes the unexpected hero is confused with the everyman hero. This is not the case. The unexpected hero may appear to be working with the villain or have no connection with the danger at all. But the whole time, they are hidden while they fight adversaries.
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