Best Movie Heroes
Here are our picks for the best movie heroes!
25. Marty McFly
The main protagonist of Back to the Future, Marty McFly is just like every teenager from the 80s, but when he gets sent back in time he must find a way home and reunite his parents to ensure that one day he'll be born. It's a fun adventure and Marty takes us on the journey with him as we see the entire story from his fish-out-of-water perspective. It's Michael J. Fox in his best role since he plays the character believably and we can all relate to him on many different levels.
24. Harry Potter
The Boy Who Lived faces many challenges throughout his young life, yet he still perseveres. Played well by actor Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter grows up before our eyes in the eight films set in J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World. It's fun to see his transformation and final confrontation with Lord Voldemort who's intricate plot to kill the kid has haunted Harry his entire life. Potter overcomes fear, doubt, and loss to face his enemies and move forward.
23. Frodo Baggins
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is filled with heroic characters, but none have the weight of Middle Earth on their shoulders like Frodo does. Elijah Wood brings pathos to the role and imbues him with wide-eyed innocence and naivete that work well for this sheltered hobbit from the Shire. He grows as a character throughout all three films as he's tempted by the power of the ring and eventually becomes the hero we all need him to be.
22. Robin Hood
One of the most recognizable characters in fiction, Robin Hood fights the good fight for the down-trodden and forgotten in society against the corrupt powers-that-be. In the title role in The Adventures of Robin Hood from 1938, Errol Flynn portrays the outlaw with an infectious joy that you can't help but smile while watching. He's a charming rogue with the skills to battle corruption, get the girl, and save the day.
21. Iron Man
Iron Man was meant to be played by Robert Downey Jr. He pulls off the arrogant genius role flawlessly and morphs him into a hero with a conscious effortlessly. It's a great character arc, and one that continues in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even though before Jon Favreau's 2008 film he was unknown to most people, Iron Man is now one of the most popular superheroes ever thanks to an actor dedicated to making the character the best he can be.
20. Katniss Everdeen
The Hunger Games introduces us to Katniss Everdeen as a survivor in a dystopian future who volunteers on behalf of her little sister to take part in a savage gladiatorial game. She's the one keeping her family alive by hunting thanks to her skills with a bow, but now must fight for her own life in a perverted contest. Jennifer Lawrence does a fantastic job in the lead role bringing gravity and emotion to everything Katniss does.
19. John McClane
One man must take on a group of international terrorists in a Los Angeles high rise in Die Hard. That one man is John McClane and he's played by the terrific Bruce Willis. Willis imbues the character with his own cocky, city boy sensibilities that help make the character memorable. He's in the wrong place at the wrong time and tries to make the best of it making him an excellent example of bravery. He's innovative, smart, and hilarious to watch as he comments on the bizarre situation he's in.
18. Rick Blaine
One of the most well-written and well-acted characters in movie history is Humphrey Bogart's Rick Blaine from the 1942 film from Michael Curtiz, Casablanca. He's a cynical loner running a gin joint in Nazi-occupied Casablanca, Morocco during World War II. When an old flame comes back into his life he is forced to make the most difficult decision of his life. As Rick would say, "Here's looking at you, kid."
17. Max Rockatansky
While he usually keeps to himself, only fighting for his own survival in the wasteland that is the future, the core of who Mad Max is lies in his past as a police officer trying to keep the streets safe. So, when a group of survivors need help battling a marauding gang and moving some rare gasoline, they enlist Max to drive the tanker. He's one of the most reluctant heroes, but he proves his mettle on the highways and to one inspired, feral kid becomes known as The Road Warrior.
A dark hero, Batman is a tortured soul who seeks vengeance on those who are responsible for the death of his parents and vows to fight crime in his hometown of Gotham City. There have been many different versions of the character on the big screen, but Tim Burton and Michael Keaton teamed up to bring us their definitive take on the character in 1989. Playing both billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne and his haunting alter ego, Keaton brings them both to life making the character just on edge and psychotic enough to believe he would put on a bat suit and fight crime.
15. Captain Jack Sparrow
Johnny Depps best role by far is the pirate Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean. He brought an odd Keith Richards-esque swagger to the swashbuckler making him an unforgettable character in the annals of film history. You never know if he's going to do something selfish or heroic making him an anti-hero through and through. He's funny, frantic, and off kilter which allows Depp to play a wide range of emotions as well as have lots of fun with the action.
14. Han Solo
Harrison Ford radiates confidence as the hotshot pilot Han Solo. He's the neutral party in the 1977 Star Wars movie playing a smuggler and criminal from the Empire who refuses to join the Rebel Alliance in the fight against galactic tyranny. His character arc is brilliant as he goes from cynical loner to optimistic leader while maintaining his roguish charm. He's a perfect counterpart to the naive Luke Skyalker and idealistic Princess Leia and his relationships with both of them change his life forever.
13. James Bond
James Bond is the longest-running film franchise in history. That's because he's one of the most interesting characters of all time. He's a masculine spy, who always gets the girl, takes out the bad guy, and looks good doing it. Played originally by Sean Connery in 1962's Dr. No, five other actors have since taken on the role, but none have matched Connery's calm and cool take on the character.
12. Mr. Jefferson Smith
There have been plenty of memorable characters played by the great Jimmy Stewart, but none are quite as heroic as Jefferson Smith from Frank Capra's 1939 classic Mr. Smith goes to Washington. Taking on the political elite, the idealistic young senator shakes thing up in our nation's capital by exposing corruption. He's an intelligent and spirited fighter who will stop at nothing to make his country a better place.
Who knew that the best part of George Miller's return to the action-packed Mad Max franchise would be Charlize Theron's Furiosa? She's fought for survival her whole life under the command of cult leader Immortan Joe, but decides to break free and take his prized wives with her to the glorious homeland she left behind. Furiosa goes through a major arc in the film going from trying to kill fellow survivor Max, to saving his life over the runtime of the movie. She also gets her hands dirty in the intense hand-to-hand combat and driving sequences which are stunning to behold.
10. Captain America
Steve Rogers is perhaps the most pure hero on this list. He's a scrappy, scrawny, super-patriotic man who gets a chance to become the world's first superhero and jumps at the chance, not for the power, but for an opportunity to help the Allied effort and stop the Nazis from taking over the world. Chris Evans is able to play this straightforward hero without making him seem campy and has since given him a complex character arc in Marvel's Cinematic Universe. His signature shield, suit, and superhuman abilities make him stand out from the rest, but it's his strong moral code and loyalty that keep him among the world's most popular heroes.
9. Sarah Connor
James Cameron created the character of Sarah Connor in his first Terminator movie in 1984, but his 1991 sequel took her to a whole new level. While she's a normal waitress in the first film, in the second she transforms herself into a tough-as-nails commando. Her overprotective motherly nature and psychotic behavior due to her knowledge of the future make her a complex character who's willing to do anything to save her son and stop the machines from taking over the world. Linda Hamilton delivers her best performance here as this crazed mother of the future.
Disney's best hero is Simba from The Lion King. He's a bit of an arrogant little brat who suffers unimaginable tragedy thanks to his Uncle Scar. After spending a long time in exile, he rises to the occasion to take back his rightful throne. Simba is played with energy by Johnathan Taylor Thomas in his younger years, and the brilliant Matthew Broderick as a conflicted adult. It's a flawless transition and both actors do a wonderful job bringing this regal hero to life.
7. Princess Leia
The late Carrie Fisher will always be remembered as royalty thanks to her role of Leia Organa in Star Wars. The ultimate Rebel, Leia leads the resistance in a struggle against the Empire and later the First Order. Her character remains the most consistent throughout the series which grounds it all in the battle between light and dark, and she's one of the only ones who never flirts with the dark side. For her, the people around her are most important and her compassion shines through in every action she takes. She's been taught lessons over the course of her life and now acts as a teacher for those around her.
6. Rocky Balboa
Writing and starring in the first Rocky film in 1976, Sylvester Stallone rocketed to super-stardom with this hit film. Rocky is an average guy who dreams of going the distance in the boxing ring with the heavyweight champion of the world Apollo Creed. He trains his hardest with former boxer Mighty Mick all while wooing a shy girl named Adrian. It's the story of a nobody who becomes somebody, but more importantly it's a romantic comedy about a guy who tries to get the girl of his dreams. The tagline sums it all up: His whole life was a million-to-one shot.
5. Ellen Ripley
In the claustrophobic, sci-f-horror-thriller Alien, director Ridley Scott cast actress Sigourney Weaver as the working-class character Ellen Ripley. The 1979 film was an unexpected journey through a run down old spaceship which gets attacked by an unseen creature. Ripley watches her friends and crewmates die all around her while doing whatever she can to escape with her life. She reluctantly comes back to fight the aliens in James Cameron's 1986 sequel in which she goes to war with the creatures who took everything from her turning herself into a motherly, warrior-woman battling the queen of the evil extra-terrestrials.
Richard Donner's 1978 film Superman is the first comic book superhero movie of the modern age. It's the genre defining classic that started it all and star Christopher Reeve is the reason it all works so well. He plays Clark Kent and Superman with truth and honesty, making the super-powered alien believable as a person. He's a do-gooder who does good because it's right and we understand that comes from his smalltown American upbringing. Reeve also makes him relatable as we see him get mad, sad, and yet he still saves the day.
3. Dorothy Gale
In the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, Judy Garland plays protagonist Dorothy Gale as she travels to the titular mystical land and goes on a journey to find her way back home. For a movie about banking and the gold standard, it's an entertaining picture thanks largely to her performance. She does a superb job with the singing but it's the rest of the movie that really makes her stand out as she is willing to help those around her along her way. Her caring and compassionate heart, strong-willed determination, and courage make her someone worth aspiring to.
2. Luke Skywalker
The classic hero's journey is personified best in Star Wars' Luke Skywalker. He's a young, innocent, naive farm boy who dreams of going on an adventure in the stars fighting the Empire alongside members of the Rebel Alliance. He gets his wish when he's whisked away to the far reaches of the galaxy to battle evil. This character goes through plenty of changes as he's faced with shocking revelations about his past, must confront the deadliest menace in the universe, and soon becomes one of the most important figures in the galaxy. Mark Hamill delivers extraordinary performances every time out as the character making you feel his emotions and root for his success.
1. Indiana Jones
The best movie hero is Indiana Jones. As played by Harrison Ford, Indy is an adventurer and archaeologist who teaches students at university during the week, but takes weekend trips to uncover lost artifacts. He's an intellectual, but also a man of action. He's a worldly soldier of fortune who is willing to risk his life for the prize, but won't get near it if snakes are involved. His fear of the slithery creatures is a brilliantly humanizing characteristic making him all the more relatable. Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark introduced us to the character created by George Lucas in a magnificent way by romanticizing him through the 1930s time era and his signature look including a leather jacket, fedora, gun, and whip. It doesn't get any more iconic or heroic than that.