Heroes make or break a movie. And there are all kinds of heroes out there. There are the traditional noble do-gooders, the reluctant heroes, the anti-heroes who are barely distinguishable from the villains and every assortment of heroic archetypes you can think of.
My personal favorite, believe it or not, is closest to the do-gooders. I like heroes who do the right thing simply BECAUSE it's the right thing. Like The Doctor in Doctor Who. He could easily just nope his way out of Dalektown if he wanted to, most of the time, but he does what he does because people will be hurt if he doesn't. And while it is easy to characterize this kind of hero as some bland knight in shining armor cliche, it doesn't have to be that way. The Maginificent Seven (both in its original incarnation and the terrible Chris Pratt vehicle from a few years ago) is a prime example of this. The characters are these badass gunfighters who end up helping protect a village from bandits in the original and an evil mining tycoon in the terrible Chris Pratt vehicle, for no real reward beyond a palce to stay and the grateful smiles of the people. And like the Doctor, it would be very easy for them to just say "we aren't being paid enough for this", saddle up and ride out of town. In fact, in the original, the bad guy gives them exactly that option. But they don't. They stick around and win the day, at great personal cost. I hope that if I were ever in a position to do such a thing, I would have that kind of courage. And to me, that is exactly the appeal of that kind hero.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have your anti-heroes. The kinds of people who are essentially doing the right things for the wrong reasons or possibly even doing good entirely by accident. In some cases, they aren't even necessarily doing good at all, just doing something bad to an even more obnoxious bad guy or some faceless entity. The latter is best epitomized by Oceans 11 (again, both the original and the remake. Though I prefer the original Sinatra version better, baby). They weren't really good people. They weren't protecting anyone. They weren't stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. They were ripping off a casino in order to make themselves rich. Full stop. I find this kind of character interesting because (in my humble opinion) the writer has a hard job. They have to make people who are doing things that are normally reserved for the antagonists of a story seem sympathetic. So they have to take the things that make a character cool and interesting and turn it up to 11. Red Reddington from The Blacklist is an excellent example of that. He is an amoral criminal. Yet James Spader makes him so damned charming that you don't care. Frankly his character is the only reason to watch the show, but its such a compelling reason that I watch it anyway.
So Those are just a few of my thoughts on what makes a good hero. Maybe next week I will discuss what BREAKS an otherwise good hero.