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Holding out for a hero

The quintisential hero - Superman as played here by Henry Cavill



I’ve reached the part of my new book where my heroine has to decide between two very different men… and that got me thinking about heroes.

What makes a man a hero?

What sets him apart from (dare I say above) other men?

I’ve made a list… because lists are good.









By strength – I don’t mean muscles (although… muscles are not necessarily a bad thing). By strength I mean strength of purpose and conviction., Someone who will stand up under pressure and not give in. The man who will draw a line in the sand and say – “this far and no further”.  We know we can rely on him to be there when we need him.

When it comes to strength - you can't beat Iron Man - played by Robert Downey Jr. Hugh Jackman's Wolverine might be having a bad hair day - but he's a good man to have around when the going gets tough.



We love an honourable man. A man who knows what is right and will defend it. We can trust this man, because he will never do anything that is wrong. Or- if he does – he will fix it. Loyalty is part of honour – loyalty to family and friends.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard played by Patrick Stewart is a strong leader and a man of honour. Perhaps THE most honourable hero... Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird - played to perfection by Gregory Peck. Both are willing to sacrifice themselves for a cause.



Smart is sexy. But it’s more than that. We want to be able to look to our heroes for help in a crisis. The hero will figure out who the murderer is, or how to escape the locked room. Or the cure for a disease. Quite often these super smart men will have an innocence or a sense of other-worldliness that is very appealing.

Mr Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy) was a hero of my childhood. I wanted to be as smart as him. Criminal Mind has a genius - Dr Spencer Reid - played by Matthew Gray Gubler. His unworldly brilliance creates a counterpoint to the darkness of his job.



Funny is sexy. That’s why we love romantic comedies so much. A hero who can make us smile will brighten the dark times. Even better if he can laugh at himself.  We know we will enjoy the company of this hero.

we fell for Hugh Grant's gentle humourous characters in Notting Hill and Love Actually. Johnny Depps' Captain Jack Sparrow was a rogue - but a funny and loveable one.



We love a flawed hero. At first those flaws may make him seem a villain, rather than the hero. But as we come to understand him and learn what caused those flaws, we begin to see past them to the real hero underneath. Maybe, too, we think we can help him overcome those flaws.

Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) is flawed - in as much as he's dead and a vampire. But we totally fell for him. I have read all the books - and let me tell you that Game of Thrones villain Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) will overcome his flaws as well and become.. well pretty heroic.



Let’s be honest here – no-one wants to be poor. Then there’s the matter of providing food and shelter for his wife and children. There’s a reason the heroes in fairy tales tend to be princes. Castles are much better than a peasant’s hovel. However… I don’t think it’s necessary for a hero to be super rich.  If he is all of the above things, he will succeed in life. And that means he will be able to provide for his family.

Nice houses help - Prince Charming had one. So too did Colin Firth as Mr Darcy. But that is not why we loved them.


Good looks

I’ve put this last – because it is the least important thing about our hero. OK – let be honest – we love a good looking hero. But they don’t all have to be handsome. If he has a good helping of the above traits, we are going to fall in love with him anyway. But… it’s not going to hurt if he looks like Brad Pitt.

Shek succeeds as a hero despite being an ogre. Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) is a great hero - even if he does need a bath.


Oh – yes. I know which one my heroine is going to choose. He is all of the above… and more.


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14 Responses to Holding out for a hero

  • Can’t wait to read about him! (And I like your choice of pictures above, apart from the green guy )

  • Wow, Janet, so many…hot…men! I’d agree with all of the above characteristics!

  • One to cut and keep, I think. For many reasons.

  • It was so brave of you to trawl through all those pictures for our pleasure – oh, I mean enlightenment! My other half could never understand me swooning over Aragorn and made the bath comment too – not too pleased when I offered to perform aforementioned bath 🙂 Interesting post and spot on about our heroes.

  • I love the post. You certainly have a few of my favourites in there. Spencer Reid being one of them. And many more. Have thoroughly enjoyed reading and looking at the pictures. A nice way to end the day.
    Lorraine x

    • Glad I capped off your day nicely Lorraine. Nice to meet another Spencer Reid fan. I think his character is fabulous. Love him!

  • Love Aragorn – but I’d have had Faramir in that list too. And I’m so glad to see Tyrion Lannister there. He’s a stand out in GOT. I like my heroes to have vulnerability. And Christina – Shrek is adorable! Are you confusing him with Wayne Rooney?

    Disappointed not to see Capt. Hook on the list, but maybe you haven’t caught up with him yet, Janet? (Once Upon a Time).

    • Liv – I fell for Faramir just a bit too. I think Tyrion is such an amazing character – we hate him and sympathise with him and love him just a little bit all at the same time.
      I saw the first two series of Once Upon a Time while I was living in the US – haven’t found it here so didn’t get to Captain Hook – I see now I need to go back and take another look.
      J X

  • Sorry, I thought I’d left a comment! Doh! I’d add kindness to the list my list of heroic qualities. I’m looking forwards to meeting your heroine and the two men she has to choose from, looking at your pictures, I’m guessing she might have quite a dilemma there!

  • Picking from the selection above would be very difficult. My heroine is gong to follow her heart – that will lead her to the right man – but it may be a rocky road.

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