Though the screen heroes on this list may have little else in common, each gave their life to defend the people, to protect mankind, to beat the bad guy, and each, through one way or another, were brought back to life. There’s something about seeing the invulnerable harmed, the invincible in pain, the hero fall that has always been so captivating to watch. Because this list could go on forever, I’ve just picked five recent(ish) sci-fi and fantasy movies. So, in no particular order . . .
1. Iron Man, The Avengers
Those of us who were familiar with RDJ’s Marvel contract before seeing The Avengers knew that he was still signed up for at least one more stand-alone film in the franchise. But still, when he fell from the portal and laid there unconscious, even the Avengers were holding their breath. It had to be Iron Man to make the sacrifice. He had the most to prove, being the only ‘human’ out of the bunch, except for sideliners Hawkeye and Black Widow, and having been chewed out by Captain America earlier on as to his real status as a hero. Thankfully the Hulk was around to revive him, and his actions proved him to be a hero underneath the suit. As well as a genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist.
2. Neo, The Matrix
Why, oh why, didn’t he take the blue pill? Because he was The One. Arguably one of the best sci-fi films of all time, The Matrix is also one of the best displays of an unlikely hero going up against the enemy. After getting Trinity out in time, he decides to fight Smith and all he represents instead of running. Despite his new-found belief in his powers, however, he is shot dead by the Agent. Just when all seems lost, Trinity brings him back to life in a perfectly fitting way; in a film which makes so many references to fairy tales and dreams, it seems only right that the hero should be awakened by a kiss. Of course, I could also include Neo reviving Trinity in The Matrix Reloaded, but we’ll have to wait for the Wachowski’s next trilogy to see if Neo will be resurrected again.
3. Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Okay, so I know strictly speaking Sherlock Holmes doesn’t exactly fit into the ‘Sci-Fi and Fantasy’ theme I’ve got going on here, but it’s RDJ again, and it’s a great scene. Or, should I say, scenes. The first time we see Sherlock on the edge of death is when he is tortured by Moriarty for information, and dies of his injuries as they escape on the train. He is revived by Watson with a shot of adrenaline only to fall again, this time, quite literally. Sherlock’s brilliantly ‘cursed’ mind can see only one way to kill Moriarty, even if it means sacrificing his own life in the process. The moment when he pushes both himself and his enemy off of the balcony just as Watson opens the door is so brilliantly done; the music, the slow motion, the funeral scene that follows are all enough to give the viewer goosebumps, and to truly believe that the brilliant Sherlock Holmes might really be dead. Of course, originally, he was. Arthur Conan Doyle killed off the detective when he plunged into the waterfall, but so great was the public demand to have him return that the hero was revived, just as RDJ was with the help of an oxygen pump.
4. Captain Kirk, Star Trek Into Darkness
I know it got a few bad reviews, but personally, I loved Star Trek Into Darkness. It’s not perfect as a whole but there is one scene in it which comes pretty close, and which has since become one of my favourite scenes in sci-fi films. Ironically enough, it’s probably the scene which gets the most hate from Star Trek fans; when Kirk re-aligns the warp core, and dies from exposure to the radiation. After watching the movie on Sky Box Office for the first time, I came home and bought it on Sky Box Office on my TV, just for that scene. I skipped to it, watched it three times, went to bed, YouTubed it, and watched it again. I can’t say why exactly; it was just so well acted and so well directed that I couldn’t help but feel the moment. It feels exactly how a hero’s sacrifice on screen should feel, the brave young Kirk giving up his life to save his ship and his crew from the wrath of Khan (see what I did there?) I know that in the original, the roles were reversed. And, obviously, we know that he’ll be resurrected – he’s Captain Kirk. But in that moment, watching Spock cry and give him the Vulcan salute, the death of his friend feels very real. KHAAAAAAAAAAN.
5. Batman, The Dark Knight Rises
The longest time between death and resurrection on the list goes to Bruce Wayne. When Harvey Dent dies, so too does the image of the Batman, with the latter sacrificing his status as a hero, believing that Gotham needs a hero with a face. So, The Dark Knight takes the wrap for Dent, and for eight long years, he waits until he is the hero Gotham needs again. Then Bane comes along, and he has a shot at redemption. But, not being prepared for the battle, he is broken in both body and spirit. Cast aside again and believed dead by Gotham, The Dark Knight trains, mends what has been broken, and learns the strength he needs to ‘rise’. Easily one of the best heroes of the 21st century, heck, of any century, Batman transcends pain, suffering, even death and shows that not a man, but a symbol, can always be resurrected.
An honourable mention goes to Jean Grey. Only when she rose from the ashes as the Phoenix, we all know how that worked out.
Thanks for reading.