It's no secret I'm a fan of movies (hence, my writing for Movie Pilot). One of the reasons I find films so wonderful is how clearly they can articulate a story or a character and inspire others to be better versions of themselves. Some of my favorite characters have the drive and dedication to desperately chase after their goals, which is what makes them such good characters and so profoundly important to the good storytelling they are a part of. Granted, not every movie tells a good story, but with good character development comes good storytelling, much like with the following 10 characters.
1. Forrest Gump (from Forrest Gump)
A 1994 American epic romantic-comedy-drama, this film (coincidentally, based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom) follows the life of Forrest Gump and his accidental adventures into American history in the latter half of the 20th century. Though Forrest is "a man with below-average intelligence," that doesn't stop him from living his life to the fullest, allowing him to experience--even influence--some defining moments in American history, and sets an example on never giving up on yourself or your friends.
2. Inigo Montoya (from The Princess Brides)
The 1987 fantasy romance film (based on William Goldman's 1973 novel) quickly became a cult classic, still having children of all ages enjoying this tall tale together. Inigo devotes himself to becoming a great swordsman in order to avenge his father's death at the six-fingered-hand of Count Rugen. After finally confronting his father's killer, he shares the immortalized words he had practiced and waited half his life to say: "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." Inigo Montoya's dedication to avenging his father is what makes him such a wonderful character; after years of searching, bouts of alcoholism, training, and failure, with the help of friends he is able to accomplish his goal, showing us the qualities of resoluteness and perseverance that I can only hope to have some day.
3. James T. Kirk (in Star Trek)
As one of the most famous Captains in the history of Starfleet, James T. Kirk has saved Earth multiple times, terminated the Doomsday Machine, negotiated peace with the Klingon Empire, and helped in keeping the balance of power between the Federation and the Romulans. Quite the tract record for a Captain on any ship. While commanding the U.S.S. Enterprise, he always acted the part of the quintessential leader by leading his crew into the unknown, continually succeeding time and time again, and showing that we must always be exploring and learning in life (no matter what surprises that will bring).
4. Samwise Gamgee (in The Lord of the Rings)
Serving as the archetypical role of the sidekick (to Frodo Baggins), Sam is who I see as the true hero of this epoch. He protects and cares for Frodo when our hero grows weak under the Ring's influence, he serves a stint as the Ring-bearer and does not succumb to it's temptation (unlike Frodo), rescued Frodo from Orcs which had captured him, and knows from the beginning that Gollum is bad news. Not only does he act heroic throughout their entire journey, but he shows us what true friendship is among some of the worst battles (both physical and mental) a creature could go through.
As much of a Marvel fanboy as I am, it's hard to not see the brilliance that is the "Caped Crusader." After witnessing his parents being murdered as a child, he swears revenge on criminals with a promise fortified by his incredible sense of justice. Bruce Wayne trains himself, both physically and intellectually, crafting himself into a bat-inspired persona to fight the crime that runs amok in his beloved Gotham City. What sets Bruce Wayne's Batman apart from other superheroes is that he possess no superpowers; instead, he relies on his genius intelligence, physical mastery, martial arts abilities, detective skills, science and technology smarts, with a little help his incredible wealth (read: tons of cool gadgets), showing to us to rely on what assets we have to do good in the world.
6. James Bond
James Bond, the most valuable member of the elite force within England's Secret Service (the Double O section), is essentially Batman without the bat persona; suave, sophisticated, and always having the best tools for the job, James Bond has been adapted for television, radio, comics, video games and film. The films are the third-highest-grossing and longest continually running film series to date. Apart from his womanizing characteristics, James Bond is always willing to inventively lay down his life and reputation "for Queen and country," making him one of the most iconic examples of commitment.
7. Luke Skywalker (from Star Wars)
The amateur farm boy with a fate to become a legend, Luke Skywalker's path through the original Star Wars trilogy (Episodes 4-6) is the quintessential hero’s journey, speaking to generations of young people trying to find their way in the world. He is like anyone else who looks over the horizon and hopes that there is something better out there, making entire generations believe in the power of the Force, he shows us how one person can change history and that our family history does not define our future (even with one hand).
8. Harry Potter (from the Harry Potter series)
Orphan, wizard, and Dark Lord killer, Harry is guided by his conscience and has a keen sense of what is right and wrong. He shows us how to be innately honorable while still being true to yourself, even self-sacrificing for the betterment of those around you.
One of the most iconic Marvel Superheroes, Peter Parker gains his powers from a bite from a radioactive spider, going on to show the world that "with great power comes great responsibility." Among his many iterations in comics, films, and television, Spider-Man remains the most relevant superhero to the world of young people as he attempts to balance life, tragedy, and heroism while still making good marks in school. Spider-Man even has his own musical...no joke.
10. The Doctor (from Dr. Who)
As a fairly new fan of Dr. Who, I still have much to learn about/from The Doctor, but here is a quick synopsis. A Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who travels through time and space in his TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space), his kind have dedicated themselves to overseeing all of time and space without interference. The Doctor continually sets the example of solving problems with wits rather than with force.
What other movie characters inspire you?