Enter the “Normal Guy” hero

One of the things that I realized frustrated me about the recent Star Wars movie (besides a multitude of things I needed to be done better). Was the fact that the titular heroes had no progression. They simply picked up the things that they had and were absolute naturals.

While one might consider it the force or luck that Rey whooped up on Kylo Ren in her first usage of a light saber I find it suspect and also very much bad writing and a reliance of deus ex machina to cover up the lack of growth that the characters need.

So will Rey be even more powerful in the next film? Will she be shredding Kylo next round instead of it being slightly close?

Maybe

But what is more startling is the fact that the digression was completely gone and its something I’m noticing more and more with super hero movies and also in general with movies the feature heroes common or uncommon. They’re throwing out their learning and grounded aspects for more flashier and packed in films. Yet, by doing so they are discarding the one thing that makes heroes worth watching and more importantly relateable and also teachable to us in a mirroring sort of manner. I call it the “common guy” thread or the “diamond in the rough” trope or the “nerd/geek dude” hero.

While some movies take this to almost hilariously high tropiness this is probably one of the most powerful connectors to good heroes on film and often has nothing to do with his martial skills or prowess but his relateable aspects in his character and his approach to problems.

Combined with how a hero grows he/she could become very interesting and emotionally as the mature it is always interesting from wide eyed Luke in episode 4 to dressed black Luke in episode 6.

Still, I thought I’d take the time to list some of my favorites and moments which were quite poignant in two characters that are the best example of this, Sokka and Columbus.

In the case of Sokka he is the ultimate journeyman from Avatar: the Last Airbender and as such he is usually the comic relief. But what happens when you take the comic relief give him actual feelings and provide a very interesting take on being normal in a world full of super powered people? Well you get some of the best “common guy” bonding around.

I remember seeing this when I was a sophomore or junior in highschool and still remember feeling exactly like Sokka. You’re weird, you don’t really have any eligible skills to be a hero and yet your weirdness is your greatest strength it turns out and what separates you from everyone else who seems to just follow the herd.
It’s a great example for turning a character that you don’t normally like into someone quite likable largely due to just good building of empathy and real action and relateable emotions.

Here are some of my favorite scenes.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4rAJ97qwzU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiEX2OL5o-M

Late on Sokka would go on to do some really incredible stuff in the show but it was these moments that solidified our care for him in our own world.

Whereas Columbus is a little different in that his world seems to be strife with something that we see all the time such as Zombies into a familiarized role. However, rather than try to estrange and dive into the fantasies of the zombies and all they bring into the world the movie “Zombieland” directly shies away from it using zombies really only as the side stage for the more interesting human to human contact.

However, particularly one cool scene stood out to me which is when Columbus and Wichita are sipping some late night wine talking and sharing knowing that very likely they’re never going to be together. This scene is the best scene in the film largely because it builds on the belief that nice shy guys are actually really cool and could win the girl over so to speak if given the chance. He mentions how he’d never been asked to the Sadie Hawkins dance before. Boom huge key in and major connector to it’s audience which largely is mostly men between the ages of 16 – 25 who aren’t jocks and probably aren’t doused in women. Immediately you have that connection to your age group and it builds on it by having him slowly but more surely cozy up to Wichita which is every nice guys’ dream right of getting the girl? While this might be cliche this was one of the first movies I saw that had a direct real world parallel to a guy who was by all intents and purposes pretty normal. He wasn’t flashy, but that unflashiness is exactly what makes him a great hero and someone we can look up to later as he does become a hero and does do incredible stuff.

For some context here’s a another great zombieland clip.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TemLwQrhYeQ

Anyways these are just a couple of my thoughts on the subject take em as you wish or maybe comment on some others you’ve never thought of.

– BW

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