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The thing about heroes is they show you qualities you wish you saw in yourself and/or others, and for me that's become more true with fatherhood; my hope is that my children will see some of these same heroic qualities in myself. On to my top 5! I'll be honest, this is going to be Marvel heavy, with one exception (for obvious reasons), but let's start with #5.
5. Captain America (Steven Rogers)
Cap has never really connected to me, due to his exhausting patriotic pride in the face of all that goes on under his radar; however, the movies have awoken my interest and proved my original conceptions wrong (about both the character and his comics). It's clear why he is the leader for the Avengers. If anyone has any doubt about Cap's dedication to what is right, not just for his country, read the Civil War storyline. Chris Evans has done a spectacular job in portraying this in the movies (granted he's working with great scripts and directors) and I'm looking forward to more in Age of Ultron and Civil War (*can't-wait*).
4. Batman (Bruce Wayne)
How could I not have Batman on this list? First of all, he's always prepared like a ninja boyscout. Secondly, he always has a plan and back-up plans for when things go wrong; he thinks of everything (including if he goes rouge, leading to one of my favorite lines from Justice League about the Justice League being his back-up plan when caught with some kryptonite... I digress). He knows his city and the threats against it better than anyone else. Plus, HE'S BATMAN!
3. Professor X (Charles Xavier)
While I never really got the difference between mutants and other people with super powers (or the hatred that mutants get, while other heroes are celebrated), I admire the professor's willingness to protect the same people that hate him and "his kind," as well as to only use his (incredible) powers responsibly and honorably. I don't know I would have that same resolve knowing what he can do...
2. Iron Fist (Danny Rand)
I'll admit, I'm a new fan of Iron Fist, knowing most of what I know because of Ultimate Spider-man the animated series (which I know isn't necessarily the best representation) and study of my own, but I would love to read more of his own adventures.
Iron Fist is an exceptional athlete, acrobat, and hand-to-hand combatant. He is a master of all of K'un-Lun's martial arts and many of Earth's, trained in the use of virtually all martial arts weapons. He has near-complete control over his nervous system, enabling him to deaden himself to pain.
I've always had respect for the discipline involved with any of the martial arts and Iron Fist is the prime example of this. Not only that, but he is capable of fusing his consciousness with that of another person, enabling each to perceive the other's emotions and memories which is just cool. A member of the Avengers (formally), Heroes or Hire, and the Secret Defenders, Iron Fist is a keen ally and one that can always be counted on.
1. Spider-man (Peter Parker)
Arguably one of Marvel's greatest achievements across any media, Spider-man is one of the most relatable and beloved heroes. Another reason Spider-man is so widely adored is his many iterations; while I know Peter Parker's story the best, the variety of Spider-men out there is diverse and nearly unlimited. Another reason he makes my personal top of the list is his story of love and loss, some of the most bad-ass villain face offs, and his involvement in the Civil War storyline.
I can't imagine the stress of choosing sides and fighting against brothers and friends, but along with revealing one's identity and than realizing you chose the wrong side... man. Such humility and dedication to what is right (though that is arguably subjective, I suppose), it gives me hope that it's possible in others, or even myself.
Share you thoughts and disagreements in the comments!