Modern Heroes

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Traditional Heroes vs. Modern Heroes

Traditional heroes are becoming modernized due to the emergence of alternative forms of storytelling in which tragedies are rare. Today, it is an unacceptable norm to let a hero die except in the cases of noble sacrifice or through murder by evil. Even if this happens, the actions of the hero must bring out a happy conclusion thus modern stories aim for positive end-results to make it more acceptable for the modern day audiences. Modern literature substitutes military or intellectual prowess with divine power and blessings by use of actors possessing supernatural powers. There has been a shift from heroes born of divine influence to the ones with training from experts as well as rise of female heroes equal to their male counterparts. The changes in storytelling in the modern era can be attributed to the desire to move towards realistic storytelling, which has led to a deviation from the traditional heroes abiding to the set laws to modern ones that demonstrate courage and self-sacrifice in diverse environments.

Shift in Heroic Archetypes

Traditional heroes such as the Hercules have become extinct in the storytelling arena paving way for classic heroes who are polished to fit in the current generation. Nowadays people do not have the financial ability to show complete selflessness therefore, there is no need for use of tradition heroes. Appearance of anti-hero characters in televisions and films has experienced a considerable increase. Classic heroes such as Rey (Daisy Ridley), Fin (John Boyega), and Poe (Oscar Isaac) in the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens are different from the traditional heroes and more preferred by the current generation. The rebel forces work closely to overcome the new evil by Villaim Kylo Ren who is trying to construct a huge planet-killing starship. The protagonists have a mission to accomplish and use a smaller ship during their mission but they succeed. On the other hand, the antagonist named Solo is extremely violent and although he uses a huge ship, he is defeated. The story reveals that in modern work heroism is about doing good deeds to others and not using violence or one’s supernatural powers for personal gain. Ancient heroes possessed true characteristics of bravery while today the focus is directed to real life issues. In modern artistic work, antiheroes are common to help in revealing the characteristic of the modern society. In a society, there must be good and bad or selfish and selfless individuals, achieved by use of heroes and antiheroes in recent works. Flexibility of characters is very common in modern stories since the antiheroes may experience a positive change as the story ends. However, in many cases selfish characters end up badly while the heroes are seen to prosper. Antiheroes come from all backgrounds just as real people but have different lives. Since antiheroes are diverse, people are preferring them for popular entertainment compared to the heroes.

Heroes in Science and Technology

In modern work, heroes reflect the current development of the society in science and technology. Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon in Rick Sanchez (Rick and Morty) cartoon create scientific heroes that travel on adventures in space and other planets. Rick is seen as a mad scientist as he uses his scientific and mathematical expertise and succeeds in every situation regardless of the situation. The heroic characteristic of Rick is associated with intelligence, which transcends that of metaphysical beings unlike in the traditional stories where heroism was mostly holistic. There is a tendency for romance and fantasy in which a hero decides to disregard the accepted behavior patterns in his society resulting in alienation. In the ancient times, heroes formed the elite warriors as in several battles there was a hero to lead the army. The heroes had complex and unique strategies to defeat the enemy although something would hold them back from winning the war. Despite being respected by the society, the heroes were full of pride and arrogance believing that they were to win every battle. A modern-day hero is portrayed as having integrity, love, honesty, wisdom, intelligence, and morals as they try to help others. Watching characters that show grace and energy is more preferred by the modern generation compared to the old arrogant traditional heroes. The producers and directors understand the needs of the current generation and incorporate them in the storylines. Stories have shifted from the traditional magic to scientific fiction to fit the advancement in technology and the current generation.

Changing Qualities of Heroes

The popularity of modern heroes reflects current society values, perceptions, and expectations of human beings. Greek and other ancient heroic myths were meant to inspire human beings of the period to venture out and achieve fame via glorious and heroic deeds. Thus, the motive was selfish as the characters went through hardship to achieve their personal desires. In modern work heroes are people that aim at doing good for themselves and others who need their help. Although there may be personal motivation to do good, modern heroes are more selfless compared to the ancient ones. The qualities defining a hero have changed a lot as today a hero is a person of great courage and ability admired for bravery deeds and noble characteristics. Modern heroic stories emphasize more on satisfying the audience on matters of life and the law. The idea is to do the right thing and offer help to others in times of need. In the modern society, people are taught to have faith that they will be rewarded for their good deeds, thus treating others with respects is important. A hero is therefore a character who is willing to stand by others during times of troubles rather than one that seeks fame and prosperity. One does not need to be brutal to achieve future goals by hurting other people. However, if one engages in violence with the intention of saving other characters, one can be recognized as a modern hero.


In conclusion, traditional heroes have been phased out, and modern ones are taking over with different characteristics. The use of anti-heroes is also common in several works to reveal a society that is full of bad and good people. Traditionally, heroes did not reflect the real society since they engaged in activities that led to their prosperity rather than helping others. Today stories are portraying the benefit of selflessness and the desire to uplift the lives of other individuals as well as taking care of the environment. Apart from helping to shape the character of human beings in the modern society, the heroic stories are entertaining to the audience. With the advancement of technology, virtual heroes are common especially in cartoons in which characters can be transformed into heavenly beings to accomplish various roles.

August 21, 2023




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