Who’s the Best Male Movie Character of the Last 30 Years?
We’ll give you one hint: It’s not who you think it is. Tweet
If you're looking for a role model, look to the role that made Daniel Day Lewis so admirable.
He may have been the last of the Mohicans, but he was first among men. So be him.
Guys have an unfunny way about them when it comes to movies: they have zero sense of humor about movies they like or don’t like. Just f-around on “film Twitter” and you’ll find out.
But through all the noise and useless debate, and given all the damn movies we watch and love or hate, what male character stands out from the rest as the best example of what a man can be?
That’s a useful question. More useful than, say, “What’s in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction?” or “Is Forrest Gump really the angel of death?”
In a real world of shit role models, we need someone to point to and say, “That’s the guy right there.” You don’t have to want to be him. But you have to be able to recognize the positive male traits he embodies and, ultimately, presents to the world. He’s not the “ultimate male” — that does not exist and thank God it doesn’t — but he’s representative of what we all could be.
Who is that guy? Hawkeye, as portrayed by Daniel Day-Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans.
Consider the list of virtues and compare it to the men you know, both in film and the including the one in the mirror:
In a real world of shit role models, we need someone to point to and say, “That’s the guy right there.”
Physical prowess, not dominance. He has physically adapted perfectly to what his environment requires, be it long rifle marksmanship, speed over hard terrain, or hand-to-hand combat. He didn’t require a single hour of gym time or exotic self-defense instruction or an ounce of processed protein.
Relentless. Yes, the whole “I will find you” speech caught the ladies’ ears, but just watch the film. He’s a Terminator with a man’s heart and his mission is extreme humanity.
Respects his father. Chingachgook, the last of the Mohicans, is the mightier warrior and the man who formed Hawkeye out of an adopted white kid. Hawkeye knows that’s everything and isn’t afraid to live it.
Speaks truth – and venom — to power. He pulls no verbal punches when speaking to British officers who are both powerful and clueless to the ways of the new world. But he doesn’t dismiss them as fools, either. He underestimates no one, especially those he holds in contempt. That alone is a really good life lesson right there.
Honors where he is. The story takes place in 1753 upstate New York. And Hawkeye is right there, in that time, all the time. And he knows it. That’s why he succeeds.
Judicious with the male gaze. “What are you looking at, sir?” she says. “I’m looking at you, miss,” he says. The only reason he got away with that is because he knew she wanted him to look. And he looked at no other woman the same way.
Takes the hits. There’s a thirty-second sequence near the end where he gets bashed in the head, flattened, and slashed by men bigger and deadlier than him. Dude just keeps walkin’.
No man pain. This is a biggie. Most of our revered male heroes are steeped in the “man pain” – the inwardly-directed wallowing in loss, usually of a female loved one (or puppy). That drives their vengeance or rejection of others, makes them the unreachable lone wolves who will set things right. But Hawkeye has none of that. He’s doing right all the way through without an ounce of woe-is-me-I’m-so-loaded-with-woe. You don’t even realize how fresh that air is until you recognize how prevalent man pain is in all of our male-centered entertainment.
“But wait!” you say. There are other characters who could be better. I agree there are others, but I see none better since Mohicans debuted in 1992. Bond (Brosnan and Craig), John Wick, Logan/Wolverine, or anyone from the Marvel or DC cinematic universes? They aspire but fall short. Episodes I-III or VII-IX of Star Wars? Um, no.
Neo from The Matrix? A cipher. Jeez, Harry Potter? Seems like a good dad at the end, but also seems like he could’ve grown up to be a heavy drinker. Lord of the Rings? Perhaps Aragorn, but he took decades to become what he was meant to be.
What about the sequel crew? Mad Max? John McClane? Rambo? Rocky Balboa? Rocky’s pure of heart and purpose, but he sure loves him some man pain. Adonis Creed? Still on his journey.
Nope. Think it through and enjoy the revelation.