A hero is an individual who displays exceptional courage and personal self sacrifice to ensure the well being of others when faced with danger or when at a condition of weakness (Scott 23). Heroes exist in all societies and the deeds of some have formed the basis for some of the great legends in history. Real life heroes can be found in all societies; individuals who put themselves in great danger and sacrifice for the well being of others in their society. Since their inception, movies have always made portrayals of heroes in their characters. These movie heroes have some characteristics similar to real life heroes and also possess some characteristics absent in their real life counterparts.
The motive of both real-life and movies heroes is usually the same; to protect others or the society in general from harm (Lichtenfeld, 61). This is usually done at a great personal sacrifice. Real-life heroes usually put some important aspects of their lives such as careers, family or even their own lives second to the well being of others or the society in general. Firefighters are an excellent example of such real life heroes who risk life to save others. Movie heroes also portray the same characteristic of going into dangerous lengths to save others.
Real life heroes and movie heroes are more often than not ordinary individuals who find themselves in situations requiring their courage and personal sacrifice (Scott 45). Most real life heroes are people of ordinary means who act courageously to save unforeseen situations which are dangerous. In movies, heroes are usually depicted as ordinary people who when faced with extremely challenging situations choose to risk their lives to save others. This forms a parallel between real life heroes and movie heroes.
Friends and family play an important part in achieving the goal of the hero in both real life and in movies (Lichtenfeld 45). Most real life heroes cite the input of friends and family in the achievement of their feats. Movie heroes are also portrayed as being dependant on help from friends and family to achieve goals beneficial to the society or to others.
Unlike real life heroes who do not possess extraordinary powers, movie heroes are usually shown as having superhuman powers that assist them in saving situations. These range from exceptional martial arts knowledge to powers of flight. This is a major difference between real life heroes and movie heroes since real life heroes possess no such superhuman powers (Scott 107).
In movies, the odds are unrealistically stacked against the hero. This is unlike in real life circumstances where real life heroes encounter extraordinary challenges that are either as a result of natural forces or simply act in extraordinary manner in ordinary situations. Rescue of victims of natural disasters can be viewed as heroism, but the odds are part of the natural process unlike in movies where the challenges facing the hero are unnaturally high.
Heroes in movies usually fight against some villain who more often than not has equal or more power than the hero (Lichtenfeld 75). This villain is usually depicted as an individual with supernormal powers but who chooses to use them to cause harm to others. This is in contrast to real life heroes who do not have to fight overly powerful adversaries to save society or prevent harm to others.
Real life heroes are usually one event heroes (Scott 91). Their heroism is defined by their courage and self sacrifice during one particular event. This is in contrast with movie heroes who are shown as being called upon to save a situation more than once. Many movie heroes may be shown in a string of productions, with each showing the hero acting to save the public or an individual from harm in different situations.
Movies heroes are usually depicted as being a mystery as regards their real identity to the public (Alan 53). They appear in forms in which their real identity cannot be known and change to ordinary individuals when not being called upon to perform their heroic deeds. Real life heroes on the other hand are individual whose real identity is known and who do not need to change identity to be heroic. This is a major difference between real life heroes and movies heroes.
Movie heroes are created from borrowing the characteristics of real life heroes. This is why both real life heroes and movie heroes share the same characteristics. The differences between real life heroes and movie heroes are brought about by exaggerations in movies meant to make the heroic character more appealing to the audience.
Alan, Dundes, et al. In Quest of the Hero. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990. Print.
Lichtenfeld, Eric. Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle, and the American Action. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2007. Print.
Scott, Allison. Heroes: What They Do and Why We Need Them. Richmond, VA: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.