It’s a repeatable cycle in writer’s rooms all over the world. But what went through the first writer’s head? “Hmm. My hero needs to be relatable and sympathized with. He should lose his kid…or his wife. Or worse…his dog. What about one of his parents? Wait! What about BOTH of his parents!” Coincidentally that’s also when the first evil laugh happened.
Yep. You read that right. Orphans. Orphans are immediate underdogs that we all get behind. Jump on the bandwagon people! The’ve dropped far and have everything to gain. So for this list I decided to set some criteria. There are many characters out there that we just have no idea who or where there parents are. So I’m sorry, I can’t name Mario and Luigi. Also, they had to make the most out of their lives. What have they achieved? What changes have they made in the world? How many times have they beat up paparazzi?
This is a pretty standard orphan story. Abusive parents are holding drugs for corrupt DEA agents. Some drugs go missing and DEA kills the whole family. Daughter happens to miss the mass killing and is taken in my a nice assassin neighbor. She teaches him to read while he teaches her guns. She wants revenge on the DEA agent who killed her brother…you know, because she doesn’t care about her parents. Yeah…pretty standard. Major props to Mathilda. I can’t imagine having such a terrible childhood and then forming a life altering relationship with an illiterate assassin.
Technically she didn’t achieve much…other than new skills and money. How did she change the world? By getting the trained killer to kill other killers. And one day young Natalie Portman will probably do her own killing. (I’ve seen No Strings Attached. She kills comedy.) Let’s just chalk Mathilda up to what Léon: The Professional really is. Good but weird. That qualifies right?
4. Buddy the Elf
A baby orphan wanders into Ed Asner’s sack of mystery and finds himself growing up around Santa’s elves. Although he may be lucky enough to have a midget Bob Newhart as his adoptive father, Buddy in his naiveté has no idea he’s an orphan. When he finally finds out he sets out ON FOOT and walks to NYC from the North Pole. Holy crap people! Apparently his only real travel problems were a disgruntled raccoon. But still! Google Maps doesn’t even reach the North Pole! Santa is still using a fold out map from the old cartoons!
Once Buddy the Elf reaches the New York City he finds a job, meets the girl (a blonde Zooey Deschanel?), and more importantly he finds his biological father. What did Buddy really achieve in the end? Well, he saved James Caan from being an evil bastard, he got beat up by Peter Dinklage, he got the girl…with a weird walk-in-on-her-showering-and-singalong move. Am I forgetting anything? Oh yeah, he saved Christmas and made everyone believe in the magic of the holidays. So overall an orphan worth mentioning, but there’s better…
3. Luke Skywalker
You remember the biggest movie saga of all time? You don’t? Well let me paint you a picture. The galaxy was in peace until one day an unjustifiably powerful brat came in and turned evil. He killed all the good guy warriors (especially kids, he’s good at killing kids and not actually fighting his equals) and became an unofficial ruler. Oh but unbeknownst to him his dying wife had twins. The girl was given to a rich dude and she lived a simple life, while the boy was sent to the desert. Seems fair. Until one day the boy was taken in by very powerful master warriors and he defeated his estranged father. Know where I’m going with this?
Luke Skywalker rose from a dead planet and brought peace to the galaxy again. That’s pretty huge. Oh wait, he did have the most powerful of the Jedi teaching him. He didn’t earn it. Luke was more of a vessel, he possessed the youth and skills to defeat his whiney father. Yes, yes. I’m a huge fan of Star Wars. Luke did go through a list of emotional turmoils and he did make for a great hero. But you can’t deny that all the chess pieces were already set up for him. He just had to sit down and play the last move. KING ME BITCHES! (That’s how chess works, right?)
2. Batman/Bruce Wayne
Bruce Wayne lost both his parents in an alley mugging gone wrong. He went home to his butler, grew up in his mansion, and bought tons of gadgets to save the innocent and rid the scum that killed his parents. Let’s be honest, Batman is a legendary character. He doesn’t posses any super powers like Mr. Skywalker nor was he raised by Santa Claus. He pushed his mind and body into the absolute peak of human capabilities. He’s the world’s best detective. And he later joins and hacks it with the planet’s best heroes. Granted, he can’t punch an asteroid out of the sky but I’m sure he’s saved just as many lives as Superman.
What did Batman achieve? Well, that’s an open ended question. Numbers 3 – 5 all existed in a finite amount of screen time. Batman has been told and retold since 1939. He’s a grandpa in tights and rubber boots still saving the innocent with a chiseled jaw. But let’s level all this hype out. Bruce Wayne is rich. None of his skills and lifestyle are possible without all of his padded bank accounts. Yes, he single handedly achieved greatness. But he had a golden trampoline to jump off of. And at the top was a silver spoon feeding him caviar.
1. James Bond
Whether you hate or love him, he’s not going anywhere. James Bond has made box office gold for decades. Now I know what you’re saying, we don’t know what happened to his parents! Well let’s look at the facts. MI6 enjoys taking orphaned children into their ranks. They serve no other loyalty than to queen and country. And let’s not forget that Skyfall taught us something more about James Bond’s past. (No spoilers! I promise.) He meets the first level of criteria. The second? Well like Batman his list of achievements is infinite. But the difference is that he rose from nothing.
A know-nothing orphan pulled from the bottom of the barrel is trained and given a gun. Boom! Secret agent hero! Now, we know that he’s given gadgets as well. But he’s not buying them himself. He makes contacts and travels the world fighting the world’s deadliest villains. He’s only human. And he’s only following orders. But man does he do it with a bit of flair and a lot of skilled luck. We know that Batman both saves thousands with big acts and few with small acts. James Bond strictly deals with preventions of wars and homicide. James Bond is by far the number one orphan. (Ouch! Did that sound like an insult to anybody else? Unintentional, I swear!)