No movie is complete without its own hero. Ever since the beginning, Hollywood has given moviegoers heroes to root for and villains to root against. If done right, movie heroes can inspire people and dominate pop culture. Every movie fan has that one character that truly spoke to them and even shaped their life. Heroes come in all different packages, some are brave, relatable, kind, strong, but most of all, they do the right thing. All movies have heroes of their story, however, there are some that stand out more than others. This is Kernel’s list of the 10 best movie heroes across all of cinema.
10. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games Franchise)
The Hunger Games franchise dominated pop culture for quite a while and that’s in large part thanks to its star, Katniss Everdeen. Jennifer Larence was born to play this role, as she perfectly captures everything the character stands for. Most of all, sacrifice. When her sister is drafted into the games, Katniss sacrifices herself and goes instead, knowing very well that she will most likely die. She is also extremely brave and doesn’t back down in the face of adversity. While Katniss may be the head of the movement against the capital, she is not a figurehead, she fights with the people. She has natural leadership qualities, but she is also flawed as a hero. Sometimes she questions what the right thing is, but she follows her gut and does what she believes is right. Furthermore, she is smart and thinks things through, rather than just running in without a plan. She is a true hero in every right.
9. Spider-Man (Spider-Man Movies)
While we could pick one version of the character to be on the list, we think each version deserves a spot. The fact that there can be multiple versions of one character over time just shows how timeless the character is. And each version added on what the character already had. But overall, the reason the character is such a hero is that he’s just a normal guy doing the right thing. Peter Parker is just a normal kid, he’s not rich, he’s not living in a crazy world, and he doesn’t have a huge ego. When he gets his powers, instead of using it to benefit himself, he decides to help others. Even though Peter doesn’t have a lot, he goes out of his way every day to help people. We are all kind of Spider-Man, in the sense that we have the power to help people in our everyday lives. Said best by Stan Lee in Spider-Man into the Spider-verse: “That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero.”
8. Rocky Balboa (Rocky & Creed Franchise)
Now Rocky Balboa may not have superpowers, he doesn’t save the world, he doesn’t stop supervillains, but he’s still a hero. Rocky proves a hero doesn’t have to be someone trying to save the world, just a normal person trying to do the right thing. Balboa is an all-star athlete, and he worked to get there. He didn’t cheat or take shortcuts, he trained and put in the work. When he fights the enhanced Russian in Rocky IV, Rocky proves that honesty always wins in the end, and cheating gets you nowhere. That someone who does the time and puts in the work will always win over someone who takes shortcuts. And Rocky doesn’t always win, but that doesn’t get him down. He takes a loss as a lesson and learns from it. Rocky showcases that losing is just as important as winning.
7. Captain America (The MCU)
While Iron Man ultimately didn’t make the list, Captain America did simply because he’s the textbook definition of a hero. That one shot during the final battle of Avengers: Endgame of him facing the army alone, sums up exactly why he is a hero. Steve Rogers played perfectly by Chris Evans is just a pure person who always wants to do the right thing. During WWII even though he was small and wimpy, he still felt the need to lay down his life for his country. Even when he was turned into a superhuman, that didn’t change who he was. Captain America is also loyal to his friends, even when most people would have given up on them, he stands by them. He is also defiant, he doesn’t follow unjust rules. Steve stands up for what is right, even if that makes him unpopular. Mjölnir chose wisely, because Cap is certainly worthy.
6. Ethan Hunt (Mission Impossible Franchise)
Now James Bond may not be on this list, however in a way Ethan Hunt is a more modern version of James Bond. He is slick, classy, and a great fighter, but he is also down to Earth and relatable. Saving the world may be his priority, but he also goes out of his way to save everyday people. No matter what mission he is on, he always puts his friends first, and when his friends are in danger, they become his mission. Hunt also sacrifices what he loves so other people don’t have to. Even though it hurt him to leave his wife, he knew staying with her would put her in danger. He may make mistakes sometimes, but he is always accountable for them. Hunt’s ability to put one life over millions, is what makes him such a good hero.
5. Indiana Jones (Indiana Jones Franchise)
One of the classic heroes is, of course, Indiana Jones. While from a distance he might seem like a mean loner, Jones is actually much more than that. Even though he isn’t very social, that is part of his charm. He doesn’t brag or boast about his skill, but he is very smart and tough. And even though he is snarky and rough, he really cares about his friends. Jones also makes a lot of mistakes, he trusts the wrong people, but he doesn’t give up. When he gets knocked down, he gets back up. He also plays by his own rules, evident by the iconic scene of him shooting the man with the knife. No matter what situation Jones may find himself in, he always sticks to his gut and does the best he can. And out of all the treasure he finds, he never keeps any for himself.
4. Woody (Toy Story Franchise)
Woody is one of the most iconic animated characters of all time, and that’s for good reason. Woody has found a place in people’s hearts all over the world because of his charm and personality. While he may just be a toy cowboy, he is also a very heroic one. Whenever his friends are in danger he always comes to the rescue. Woody may be stubborn and doesn’t always handle the situation as he should, but that’s why he is so relatable. It doesn’t matter if you make mistakes, as long as you make it right in the end. Woody is also extremely loyal and protective, but above all, he is really caring. He may be a small toy in a big world, but that doesn’t stop Woody from helping people. Even if he doesn’t get any credit, he always does the right thing.
3. Harry Potter (Harry Potter Franchise)
8 movies, 2 theme parks, a Broadway show, a spin-off franchise, and millions of fans are all products of the Harry Potter movie franchise. And the foundation for all those movies is Harry himself. There are a number of reasons why Harry Potter is such an effective hero, but the key reason is just how relatable he is. Even though he is one of the most powerful wizards in the world, he came from very humble origins. He grew up an outcast who was tossed aside. And even when he entered the wizarding world and discovered he was famous, that fame never got to his head. Harry stands against evil, and when everyone told him he was crazy, he never backed down. He always follows his gut when the going gets tough. Harry also sticks by all his friends, especially Ron and Hermonie. He is brave, smart, relatable, and all-around just an amazing person and a true hero.
2. Wonder Woman (DCEU)
Gal Gadot’s take on Wonder Woman has become iconic for a number of reasons. Gadot’s Wonder Woman inspires us to be the best version of ourselves and to always do the right thing. Since Diana is an outsider, she has a very unique perspective on our world. She sees the obvious flaws in our society, but she also wants to make the world better. However, because she isn’t familiar with our ways, she also doesn’t understand titles, roles, or traditional norms, and while that seems like a disadvantage, it allows her to be a trailblazer for a new way of life. And while she may not understand this complex world, she does understand what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s just and what’s not, and who’s good and who’s bad. If people need help, she leaps into danger headfirst without a second thought. She is also incredibly wise and she’s not perfect, but she tries and learns. Her ability to help others combined with her raw strength makes her a true hero.
1. Luke Skywalker (Star Wars Saga)
Everyone has their own favorite movie heroes, however, Luke Skywalker is one of the most popular ones. While it is unfortunate how he was treated in the new movies, throughout the original trilogy he was a true hero. He started off seemingly a nobody, living in the middle of nowhere, but through determination, ambition, selflessness, and sacrifice he became one of the most renowned people in the galaxy. One of the best aspects of Luke is how humble and relatable he is. And even though he becomes extremely powerful, he didn’t start out that way. It was hard work and determination that got him there. His friendship with Han and Leia and his determination to keep them safe is also very commendable. The thing people love most about the Rebel Alliance is when it seems like everything is over and they’ve lost, they prevail right at the last second. Luke Skywalker embodies not giving up even against impossible odds, and he showcases that no matter who you are or where you come from, if you work hard and don’t give up, anyone can become a hero.
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