5 Lelouch Vi Britannia
What is a hero?
What is a villan?
Where does one draw the line between a freedom fighter and a terrorist?
When the whole world is twisted, corrupted, and rotten how far would you go to change it?
Would you be willing to die for it?
Lelouch Vi Britannia.
There is something to be said for a character who is hard to define in anything but the most broadest terms, who dances behind so many masks and personas that it is hard to tell who or what Lelouch really is. Is he a hero fighting for justice for the oppressed and the marginalized, to make a better world for those he loves? A ruthless manipulator who plays everyone for everything they are worth before tossing them to the wolves in his quest for revenge?
Its been said Lelouch is Light Yagami done right, without the God complex and with real goals in mind. Like Light he uses his intellect to fight but he isn't afriad of taking to the field of battle himself even if he is at best a mediocre mech pilot. That's arguably one of Lelouch's more admirabe traits, say what you will about his actions he always puts himself right in the action to lead his troops in battle, claiming that if a King does not lead how can he expect his men to follow.
Lelouch also shows us what can happen when you give a master tactician, with mind control powers, absolutely nothing left to lose, no allies, no refuge, no hope. The answer is that he has nothing left to restrain him, nothing left to hold him back, no one whose standards he must live up to, and no regard for his own life or safety so long as his ultimate goal is achieved. He becomes something amazing and terrifying.
And then there is Lelouch's death, a mad plan to break the cycle of war politicing and oppresion. Step one, conquer the world and destroy those who were perpetuating the system. Step two, become the most hated and feared tyrant in history. Step three, have your own best friend, who is believed dead, disquise himself as your alter ego who is a symbol of hope to millions and is also believed to be dead by the general population kill you in broad day light in public, ending your regime in one fell swoop and allowing new hands to take the reins of power.
Regardless of what you think of Code Geass' ending this plan is so dramatic and theatrical it is believable that Lelouch would come up with a plan this crazy and some how get it to work. Unlike Light Yagami Lelouch faces his death with dignity, possibly because he planned, but as I have said before Lelouch is the sort how is not afraid to die to achieve his ends. He drags his own reputation into the mud and does everything in his power to ensure that those he cares about will not face retaliation for his actions.
He cut ties with his friends at Ashford Academy. He had his former subordinates jailed. He chained up his little sister Nunally. Suzaku fakes his death. C.C leaves and vanishes from public eye. He breaks Kallen's heart so she wouldn't have to die trying to save him. Like Light he isolates himself alone at the top.
Unlike Light however, Lelouch does not die alone both literally and in a more personal sense. Those who know him well enough realize, to late to do anything to stop this plan, what he is doing recognize that once more he has played the whole world for the fool with one last deception, to make one last miracle. And yet those who love him can never reveal to anyone the truth of what had occured, the depth of Lelouch's nobility and selflessness, for to do so would render his sacrifice worthless. To the world he must remain a demon, when in truth he was their messiah.
Whether you love or hate Code Geass Lelouch was always a treat to watch. Whether it's his more humorous moments of physical and sometimes social ineptitude, his devious schemes and grappeling with the fall out of those schemes, his genuine kindness and care for those he loves, or his hamtastic word play and flair for the dramatic Lelouchis nothing if not entertaining. If he were an actor on stage he would probably read out his final lines, give his final scene and then exit the stage to thunderous applause and a standin ovation, even if the rest of the play was a train wreck.
Also he's a Char clone, though he kind of splits that role with Kallen. Think about it an it will make sense.
"Yes... I... Destroy the world... and create it... anew."
- Lelouch Vi Britannia's last words.
4 William Adama
When the end of the world is happening because of sexy robots there is only one man to turn to to lead what's left of the Human races is military in the fight to save us from total extinction. A man whose glare is classified as a weapon of destruction,a man who can kill an armored war robot with hand tools, a man with a voice to gravelly you could process starship fuel with it, a man is bold enough to drop his battered old ship into atmosphere so he can launch all of his fighters to cover a ground evacuation, a man whose old callsign sounds like its his pornstar alias.
That man, ladies and gentlemen, is William Adama, the old man, the Admiral.
When he's not killing hundreds upon thousands of Cylons, keeping a bunch of maverick pilots in line, getting his drunken XO best friend off the bottle, banging the president, or trying to reconnect with his estranged son, Adama is the one keeping the fleet moving and alive. Yes he crosses some ethical lines along the way. At his core however he remains a good man trying to do what he feels is right and what is best for the people under his command.
When two of his men where accused of murder and sentenced to die by Admiral Cain without anything resembling a trial, without the accused even being allowed to defend themselves Adama was willing to start a shooting war with the much more powerful Pegasus to save them. When a large part of the crew mutinied and one man was killed trying to protect him Adama told the mutiniers that a line had offically been crossed, there would be no ammensty or forgiveness this time. If you are part of Adama's crew and your a good and loyal member of that crew Adama isn't going to let anyone do shit to you.
Adama can be harsh but he is never unfair. During Baltar's trial he was one of the three judges who voted to acquite Baltar despite that fact that he had authorized the use of hallucinogenic drugs on Baltar to try and get information out of him and used had previously voiced his belief that Baltar was guilty. Why did he change his mind? Because in his own words the defense made their case while the prosecution however he also added that not guilty is not the same thing as innocent.
Adama is a hard man in a hard situation, one I don't think anyone would ever want to be stuck in. At the same time he remains a good man, a fair man, and also a total badass. He won't pull any punches and he never ever bluffs.
"Prepare for turbulence."
- William Adama
3 Darth Vader / Anakin Skywalker
Let me put it to you like this folks. I first saw Star Wars when I was like 3 and Vader was instantly the biggest badass around. I had a Darth Vader themed birthday party once. That mind you was when I was 3 and Vader was just a big badass in armor with a long black cape who had realy scary breathing, I didn't understand or know much about Star Wars lore or the large impact of what I was viewing.
Now that I'm older my liking for Vader has matured from 3 year old fan boy to someone who now knows more about Vader's lore and history and not only understands it but I'd like to say appreciate it. Sure there are parts that could have been done better, some parts I hate but the pay off is well worth it in my opinion.
Vader chronoligically begins as Anakin Skywalker, former slave turned Jedi Knight. Say what you will about the portrayl of Anakin in the prequels, I personally blame the director for what went wrong, Anakin's fall however makes sense when you stop to think about it. He's a guy who while inherently a good person has a very hard time taking and dealing with loss. He's someone with all of this power but he couldn't save his mother, couldn't stop the start of the Clone Wars, and couldn't keep Ashoka from leaving the Jedi order.
So when he starts seeing visions of losing his wife in child birth you can kind of understand why he's a little concerned. What's more there really isn't anyone he can really turn to for straight advice about his fears since he's not even supposed to be married. Factor in his growing frustrations with the order and the Jedi Council over the conduct of the war, their treatment of Ashoka, that time they had Obi-wan fake his death and basicaly didn't tell him so they could sell the deception, and his own feelings of being marginalized by the council and its not surprising that when Palpatine starts dropping hints about the power of the darkside which Anakin has already had a few close calls with his fall becomes all the more clear.
Anakin becomes Darth Vader, slaughters the Jedi order, then destroys the Seperatists.
Then he loses everything; his honor, his limbs, and his wife. He becomes encased in a life supporting suit of armor that is constantly pumping pain killers into his body and is horribly uncomfortable. He is alone with just his new master Emperor Palpatine and the dark side of the force.
He is in hell. A hell of his own making and he has to live with it. He fuels his power with the one thing in the galaxy he hates more than anything else, himself. And he uses that power to fuck people up. Whole rebel squadrons? A joke for him. Two Jedi? Child's play. His old master? A very tense fencing match but ultimately doomed.
That said Vader can't always keep out his old self. From time to time he tries to do a small act of good though it usually ends badly. Why does he still serve Palpatine? Because he wants to overthrow Palpatine himself after bringing peace and order to the galaxy by any means nessecary. Even his desire to face Luke is born of a good intention from a certain point view, he wants to save his son even if he has to turn him to the dark side or horribly maim him to do so. This to me is the thing that stands out the most, beyond Vader's insane badassery, deadly skill with the force, and ruthlessness. Deep inside Vader there is still the hero, Anakin Skywalker trying to do something good out of the mess he created.
And then there is Vader's final hours. These scenes from Return of the Jedi to me define what Star Wars is really all about. The final duel between Luke and Vader is Star Wars refined to its purest state. We have an epic lightsaber duel that is a battle of skill and of philosophy. It is light vs darkness made manifest, every moment of this duel slowly building upon the other or on moments from the past in such a way to make the final pay off all the more sweet, all the more perfect.
Luke disarms Vader and has him at his mercy. Palpatine is egging him on, presuring him to give into the hate and take Vader's place at his side. Then Luke see's all the wired stickin out of Vader's severed hand and you can just tell he's remembering what he saw in the cave on Dagobah. If he gives in to the darkness he will become just like Vader. He turns away tosses away his weapon and tells Palpatine to suck it, he's a Jedi like his father before him (the subtle head gesture towards the fallen Vader in this moment is all the more epic and heart warming). Recognizing that he won't be able to break Luke, Palpatine decides to kill him and starts using force lightning on him.
Vader slowly gets up and shambles over to his master once more viewing the full effects of force lightning in use. Once more the person on the ground is begging him for help.
This time things are different however. This time it is Palpatine who threatening the safety of someone he loves. This someone who throughout the film has tried to convince him that he can still be saved, that he can still be the hero, that this time he can make it right.
In that moment, Vader comes full circle. In that moment the Sith Lord becomes a Jedi Knight once more. At the cost of mortal damage to his suits systems Anakin grabs Palpatine, enduring brutal electrical shocks, and pitches the most powerful Sith Lord in the Galaxy down into the Death Stars reactor. In his final moments Anakin asks Luke to help him take his mask off some that he can see his son just once with his own eyes.
You can just imagine what is going through Anakin's mind in the moment. So many regrets, so much pain and suffering he has caused. And yet there is pride, not for himself but for his son, a truer Jedi Knight then he ever was. He thought he had lost everything. Only for the unconditional love of his son show him the way back onto the right path.
Anakin's tale is of a Hero's rise, his fall, and ultimately his redemption. One that shall continue to carry on for generations.
"You already... have, Luke. You were right. You were right about me. Tell your sister... you were right."
- Anakin Skywalker's last words.
2 Batman/ Bruce Wayne
Batman, the Dark Knight.
As a very small child I watched Batman the animated series religiously. Batman was basically my Jesus at the time.
Batman's story has been told many times and in many different ways but at its core it remains the same. A man traumatized at an early age by the death of his parents who devotes his life to ensuring that no one else ever has to go through what he did.
Is he badass? Yes.
Batman is known for his determination and will power, such that he can surpass more powerful heroes in the DC Universe when it comes to battling foes who rely on attacking their opponents psyche. Batman's mind may be his most potent weapon both for his intelligence and strength of will. He was able to withstand Doctor Destiny's mental attacks in Justice League, which had crippled the rest of the team. In Arkham Knight he defeats and imprisons a mental resurrection of the Joker who was threatening to take over his mind and body.
Batman is known for his controversial code, that he will not kill. Many have criticized him for it, allowing the Joker to live inspite of the literal graveyards he has filled with his victims. But for Batman, there is a very simple reason why he doesn't kill them. It would be to easy. He knows many of his foes deserve death for their crimes yet he refuses to use lethal force against them. Because if he goes down that road, if he becomes judge, jury, and executioner he won't ever be able to come back from it. Only once has he ever made an exception to his rule and that was to defeat Darkside who was at the height of his power and yet Batman beat him, using a gun symbolic turning something that had been symbol of evil to him against evil itself to destroy it.
What is less often seen is Batman's kindness, his mercy, his pity, and his care for his fellow man. He blames himself to this day for what happened to people like Harvey Dent, Barbara Gordon, and Jason Todd all of whom became casualties in some form in his war on crime. The reason he takes in Robins and trains them is not to make copies of himself, to make more of Batman but so that they don't become like him, alone with his caped crusade against crime. His boundless drive and focus alienating him from those around him.
Then there is one of my single favorite Batman moments of all time from the Justice League Unlimited Episode Epilouge. Amanda Waller tells Terry Mcginnis about an incident involving one of the many incarnations of the Royal Flush Gang. How Ace, a powerful psychic who had been raised to be a weapon by project Cadmus, by Waller is maybe hours away from a brain anyurism that could kill thousands of people with the backlash. Because Batman is the only one that Ace trusts he volunteers to deal with her with the very real posibility that he will have to kill her.
When Batman reaches Ace however he finds her alone a swing set, a sad and bitter little girl. When Batman says he knows how she feels she knows that he's telling the truth and also that he won't kill her no matter what. She knows she is going to die, and she asks Batman to stay with her... She's scared. Batman sits down on the swings beside her, takes her hand, and stays with her until her time comes. Ace dies at peace and Batman saves thousands without compromising his morale code by giving one little girl basic human decency.
Batman empowers those who are afraid of criminals, the down trodden and the innocent. He takes their fear from them and turns it upon those who would do them harm. It's what he does. It's who he is. For he is... Well I'll let his quote tell you the rest.
"I am vengeance. I am the night! I AM BATMAN!"