The Kung Fu Panda movies busy themselves with creating takeaways for their viewers. Not only do they pulse and pop with color and energy, but they also contain powerful life lessons that kids and adults can learn from and appreciate. Like in any good story, these takeaways are communicated through the protagonist's journey and the choices he makes along the way. The hero of these films, Po the panda, functions as both student and teacher to the young viewers watching him fight and frolic onscreen. This, among other reasons, makes Po the perfect protagonist. To celebrate Po's relevance in our lives, I've compiled a short but revealing list of reasons why Po rocks it as a hero we can all get behind. Enjoy!
He Learns To Love Himself
Po spends most of his time striving to be somebody else. He doesn't see the value in being himself, and he suffers because of it. Kung Fu Panda 3, the most recent flick starring the garrulous panda, finds Po at his most vulnerable and most powerful. Master Shifu asks Po to teach the Five and take his place as the Jade Palace's most respected instructor, prompting Po to run away with his newly-discovered father. Predictably, the responsibility tags along with him, eventually forcing him to teach an entire village of pandas how to use their unique strengths and skills in battle. It's through these lessons that Po learns the value of playing to your strengths and staying true to who you are. This allows him to defeat an ancient foe and reclaim himself from the clutches of his own self-doubt.
He's Deceptively Powerful
Po didn't earn the “Dragon Warrior” moniker for being weak. Sure, he's frequently underestimated, but that just gives him even more power over his foes. He repeatedly proves how formidable he truly is, making him a hero we should both respect and seek to emulate in our daily lives. If you take this a step further, you'll realize that we're all sold short by other people at one point or another. Po teaches us how to use others' expectations to our advantage. Empowering, right?
He Is The Audience
Po the panda is the audience. Think about it: He struggles with his own identity, he exhibits enthusiasm for life, love, and learning, and he overcomes his problems with style and courage. All of these things apply to each of us in some way or another. He's lovable, relatable, and incredibly relevant to all of us. At his core, Po embodies our struggles and our successes, becoming a timeless character with the verve and value we all inherently possess.