3 Unexpected Heroes That Inspire Us to Keep Fighting
We all have the makings of a reluctant hero
Starring Kevin James, action/comedy movie True Memoirs of an International Assassin just streamed on Netflix last November 11. It’s about Joe (James), a writer, whose fiction novel The Memoirs of an International Assassin becomes labeled “nonfiction” by his publisher, and then finds himself mistaken to being one. This drags Joe into an action-packed real world and has to be like the assassin he’s imagined in order to survive.
After watching True Memoires of an International Assassin on Netflix, you’ll likely be inspired to watch movies with a similar plot, although not as light and comedic. After all, we all have the makings of a reluctant hero—we aren’t a hero to a big group of people yet and leaving the steady, safe beat of our lives for something important but dangerous isn’t an easy choice to make. You can mull over the boundaries you want to break or take inspiration from these other characters:
Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games trilogy
Everyone knows Katniss’ story: She volunteered to take her sister Primrose’s place in the autocratic Capitol’s annual Hunger Games—a brutal televised event that features the youngest of Panem’s dystopian society fighting each other to the death. Katniss’ now-iconic “I volunteer as tribute!” might be the opposite of what you’d call ‘reluctant,’ but faced with the choice to step in for her beloved sister or let her get thrown to the wolves (literal wolves called mutts in the Games and they’ve got much sharper teeth), Katniss couldn’t risk being anything other than brave. Throughout the trilogy, 16-year-old Katniss demonstrates this bravery equally in bursts of rage and shell-shocked solitude, until she is transformed into ‘the Mockingjay:’ the ultimate symbol of Panem’s resistance to the Capitol. Katniss resents the title every step of the way and almost breaks at the weight of the revolution that sees her as their leader; but amidst the impossible slew of personal losses and soul-crushing grief, she wields her signature bow and arrow and decides to personally finish the bloody war she never signed up for.
Bucky Barnes, Captain America: The First Avenger
You can argue that James Buchanan Barnes—or “Bucky,” as childhood best friend turned brother-in-arms turned fugitive life partner Captain America himself, Steve Rogers, calls him—isn’t the same person across his three movies (so far) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So let’s talk about Bucky when we first meet him: A young, handsome charmer from Brooklyn in the 1940s, Bucky was drafted to serve in WWII. Unlike the sickly Steve, who was forging government documents left and right in a desperate bid to be on the front lines defending the USA, Bucky didn’t choose the soldiering life: It chose him. As luck would have it, he would later be captured and brutally tortured by Nazis. When the Captain America-fied Steve finally finds and saves his best friend, he asks him if he’s still willing to “follow Captain America into the jaws of death”—and Bucky, even tortured, traumatized and bone-tired of war, gives him an empathic yes. Of course he is.
Curtis Everett, Snowpiercer
Snowpiercer is the kind of movie you can really only stomach watching once, but which stays crisp in your mind for so long that you’d feel like you saw it yesterday. I would credit much of that to the movie’s main protagonist, Curtis Everett: a darkly determined passenger aboard the poverty-stricken tail section of the Snowpiercer, a massive train that contains the only living inhabitants of a world given over to a second ice age. From the get-go, we become privy to a plan Curtis hatched with his fellow tail-sectioners to take over the front cars, home to the train’s ‘elite class’ who’ve been monopolizing the flow of wealth in their delicate ecosystem since they all first boarded 17 years prior. Curtis takes charge of the revolt, a portrait of a man who was only recently a boy, who believes he’s way out of his depth but knows that the only way out is through—and so he leads, because he’s the only one among them strong enough to have a fighting chance. He bears the burden stoically, leads the people suddenly in his charge towards the only sign of hope, but not without gruesome death darkening his way. When he finally faces off against Wilford, the man responsible for all their suffering, Curtis does only what’s sensible: he rages, overcome, giving voice to his people’s—most of them dead, by then—collective grief. Even while losing so much, the fight never ever leaves him.