So, what do I mean by Guiding Characters? It’s very simple. I mean male or female characters in movies who look after the hero and guide them through trials, rather they be the journey to Mordor, or a kung-fu competition. I would have called them Wise Old Men, but I incorporated some women, so that didn’t work. These are a few of the characteristics I look for in these characters.
Old: This is pretty flexible. The character does not exactly need a long grey beard. But they do have to be experienced so they can legitimately give good real-world advice.
Teacher and Guide: This is what these characters all do. They teach, aide, and offer advice to the hero. They may not physically guide the hero to a destination, but they at least guide them emotionally.
Power: This one isn’t a requirement. Not all Guiding characters are God, or have magical powers. But most of them have some power that they use to help the hero.
Ethical: All of these characters have a firm sense between right and wrong. They are incorruptible, and they will always work to do what is right. And one of the major roles of the Guiding Character is creating a similar moral compass within the hero.
Friendship: This one is the most important. The Guiding Character bonds with the hero. They usually become great friends, or even establish a father-son dynamic.
Sacrifice: Most Guiding Characters are willing to or actually do sacrifice themselves for the hero. It is usually after this moment that the hero becomes the strongest and triumphs.
10. Mr. Myagi: Pat Morita, The Karate Kid
When I decided to create this list, I knew Mr. Myagi had to be on it. He is the paragon of a martial arts teacher. And for an old man who is sometimes quite hard to understand, Pat Morita put on quite the performance.
9. Professor Xavier: Patrick Stuart, X-Men
Teacher? Check. Xavier is a professor and the headmaster of a school. Power? He can control people’s freakin’ minds. In the original X-Men, Xavier uses this power and his brigade of mutants to help the hero Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) become an X-man and later find answers about his past. This plus his sacrifice (OK, so he doesn’t sacrifice himself willingly and doesn’t die, but those are just details) makes him a prime guiding character. Add Patrick Stuart’s sexy voice, and it’s a win!
8. Lionel Logue: Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech
First off, this is one of my favorite movies, and that is mostly because of Geoffrey Rush’s character. To be very honest, I think he, and not Colin Firth (although God knows I love the man) should have received an Oscar. Lionel Logue is an unconventional guiding character. He is not much older than Bertie, the hero he helps. He has no magical power. However, what counts is how Logue is able to help Bertie become the king he needs to be when WWII starts. In the movie (and in history) Bertie and Logue are close friends for the rest of their lives.
7. Mr. Keating: Robin Williams, The Dead Poet’s Society
Another teacher. And as far as inspiring teachers go in movies, I think it’s easy for people to think of Mr. Keating. Although this is another unconventional case, because his hero, Neal, doesn’t triumph, but ends up (spoiler alert) committing suicide. But Keating is still a guiding character, because whether the hero fails or not, Keating still guided him and forged a relationship with him. If you’ve never seen Dead Poet’s Society, stop whatever you are doing right now, rent it, and watch it. And don’t say you won’t just because I gave away the ending. The ending isn’t as important as the journey. Sorry. I didn’t mean to sound so much like a fortune cookie.
6. Galadriel: Cate Blanchett, Lord of the Rings
Don’t let Cate Blanchett’s beauty fool you. As any LOTR freak knows, as an Elf, Galadriel is probably the oldest character in the trilogy. Galadriel helps Frodo. She is not as close to him geographically or emotionally as Gandalf, but she does give Frodo advice, and helps him even when they are miles apart. And I’m sure some of you will argue, “But wait, Allison! Galadriel was tempted by the Ring! She’s corruptible!” Okay, true. She was tempted by the Ring. But so was everyone else, including Gandalf. The important thing is she said no and let Frodo keep it. As powerful as Galadriel is, to be able to see the most powerful and seductive weapon walk right in front of her and let it go, she is probably the most incorruptible character on this list. On top of that, she’s just awesome. I don’t know any other way to say it.
5. V: Hugo Leaving, V for Vendetta
Yet another movie on this list that I love. Some people may be surprised about this choice though, because most people probably think V is the hero of V for Vendetta. V is a hero, but I think the hero of V for Vendetta is Natalie Portman’s character, Evey. The story of the movie follows her more than it does V. V guides Evey, makes her see the problems of the world and how to fix them. And not only do they become great friends, they fall in love. And V even makes the ultimate sacrifice (spoiler alert). He dies at the end of the film for the revolution Evey leads.
4. God; Morgan Freeman, Bruce Almighty
Was there any way either God or Morgan Freeman were going to escape this list whether or not they would be put together? In Bruce Almighty, God guides Bruce (Jim Carey) through becoming a better man. And he’s a great character. If there really is a God, I hope he has this character’s sense of humor. But how can God not have a sense of humor? Case and point: the Platypus.
3. Morpheus: Lawrence Fishburne, the Matrix
I’m sure if Morpheus were not on this list, I was going to receive a bunch of anonymous hate-mail and get bricks thrown through my windows. Morpheus is close to a perfect guiding character, but he’s also a bad-ass. My question to the makers of the Matrix. Couldn’t Morpheus be the main character? I for one found him much more interesting than Neo because of Keanu Reeve’s poor acting skills. But no one listens to me…
2. Gandalf: Ian McKellen, Lord of the Rings
I usually don’t like to put two characters from one movie in the same list, but I had to. And it’s my blog so get over it. Gandalf is one of my favorite characters of all time. He fits my characteristics to a T. And Ian McKellen played him to perfection. All of that gave him a top spot on this list. Gandalf is perhaps second to Merlin the most remembered character in terms of fantasy. And that is for a very specific reason. Everyone loves Gandalf: his wisdom, his strength, and his devotion to Frodo. I think we all wished we had a bit of Gandalf in us.
- Obi-Wan Kenobi: Sir Alec Guinness, Star Wars
I don’t think anyone can argue with my choice for number one. Obi-Wan is iconic as a guide. He fits every characteristic. he’s wise, old, definitely powerful, and he sacrifices himself for Luke. This phenomenal, memorable character will continue to go down in film history. And if Star Wars hadn’t had Obi-Wan, I don’t think it would have been near as successful. Well, as time has told us, though, there are other ways to ruin Star Wars, like letting George Lucas off his leash.
Merlin: Karl Swenson, The Sword and the Stone
Asland: Liam Neeson, the Chronicles of Narnia
William Forrester: Sean Connery, Finding Forrester
Glinda: Billie Burke, The Wizard of Oz
Albus Dumbledore: Ed Harris, Harry Potter