Last year around this time, I ranked my fifteen favorite movie heroes of all time. In this past year, that ranking has changed. There are new characters I want to talk about. There are new movies I've seen. With certain movies being released and certain arcs being completed, characters from last year have been shuffled around. Since that will happen every year, I've decided to make this ranking a yearly tradition. So here are my twenty favorite movie heroes as of 2022.
I will also be ranking my twenty favorite movie villains in a few days. Be sure to come back for that!
20. Peter Venkman (Ghostbusters) : New
Venkman did not appear on my favorite heroes list last year, but the more I thought about it, the more I love this character. There were a few candidates for this spot. Venkman's return in Ghostbusters: Afterlife pushed him over Daniel LaRusso and Ethan Hunt. Bill Murray's performance as this sarcastic, charming scientist that is wrapped up in the craziness of Ghostbusters is just great. He's a standout in a movie with a lot of great things, so he had to make it on the list.
19. Inigo Montoya (The Princess Bride) : New
Ever since I saw The Princess Bride for the first time and heard Inigo Montoya utter his iconic line, I've fallen in love with this character. He's so funny and so compelling at the same time, which is a rare mixture. His final battle against Count Rugen is one of the most satisfying payoffs in a film ever. This character is my favorite part of The Princess Bride, which is one of my favorite movies, so he also makes it on the list.
18. Laurie Strode (Halloween) : New
The Halloween franchise is my second favorite horror franchise (behind something else that will also appear on this list), and so I have to put the main heroine on this list. Laurie Strode is the first final girl and the template for hundreds of other final girls to follow her. She's the perfect horror hero. In the first Halloween, she's innocent, and that's why she survives Michael Myers' killing spree. In Halloween 2018, she is now prepared for Michael's return. That film does a great job of showing her trauma and how Michael has affected her. She's a broken character that has gone through so much, but still fights against evil, and that's great. Hopefully I will be able to move her up after Halloween Ends,.
17. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter) : -10
I've always loved Hermione. I think she's fun and relatable, but I actually find her part of the Golden Trio to be the emotional core of the Harry Potter films. One of my favorite moments in the Wizarding World is in Deathly Hallows - Part 1. After Ron angrily leaves Harry and Hermione in the woods, they decide to forget everything and just dance. It's one of the most genuine moments in the series, and I absolutely love it. She's a great character and has always been one of my favorite parts of the Harry Potter franchise.
16. Marty McFly (Back to the Future) : New
Back to the Future is one of the most inventive films ever made. Marty McFly is one of the most fun characters of all time. Played to perfection by a young Michael J. Fox, Marty stands out because of his abnormal character. Usually, heroes of these teenage comedies are the nerds. The cool guys are the bullies. But Marty is cool. He's confident. He stands up against Biff and the other bullies. He teaches his father how to gain confidence, and that makes him super cool.
15. Sidney Prescott (Scream) : New
Scream is my favorite horror franchise of all time, and I think Sidney Prescott is the perfect final girl. She is so badass. She's always the target of Ghostface, but she isn't a damsel in distress. Like her franchise, she transcends the tropes of her genre. She doesn't act helpless. From the first Scream, she fights back against Ghostface. She allows herself to survive. She doesn't really rely on anyone else or trust anyone else, but she is always willing to fight Ghostface, no matter what it costs her.
14. Clarice Starling (The Silence of the Lambs) : New
The Silence of the Lambs is a ride, and you see that ride from Clarice Starling's point of view. There's a lot of horrifying elements that would traumatize most people. Clarice doesn't let that get to her. She matches wits with a manipulative, cannibalistic serial killer, forming this strange, somewhat friendly relationship with him while also testing him more than anyone ever has. She's also a really great FBI agent, and I find her personality and simple good nature just magnetic.
13. John McClane (Die Hard) : Same Spot
In an era where action heroes were played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis plays a cop that doesn't want to be an action hero, but he's forced into the situation when a group of terrorists seize Nakatomi Plaza. On top of all the Bruce Willis charm, McClane is so relatable. He feels like an everyman. He feels like what would happen if you just threw a random person into this situation, which is such a genius way to execute this character.
12. Woody (Toy Story) : -3
Woody has the best and most complex character arc of any animated character ever. The Toy Story franchise is basically perfect, and Woody is the core of those films. He's consistently written with the same character flaws that create a problem inside of each film. In Toy Story, he's Andy's favorite toy, and he loves that, but feels insecure when that position in threatened by Buzz. And by the end of Toy Story 4, he has to face the fear of not being the favorite toy when Bonnie isn't really that in to him, in which case he leaves the toys to go on and become a lost toy. It's honestly one of the best character arcs ever. I love that Pixar is willing to create such a complex character that older audiences can appreciate while still entertaining younger view
11. Maximus Decimus Meridius (Gladiator) : New
Maximus is another character that just radiates coolness. If done right, sword and sandal movies can be awesome, and Gladiator is done right, so it is therefore awesome. At the heart of this film is Maximus. Played by a peak Russell Crowe, every line that he says puts a smile on my face. From "Are you not entertained?" to "What we do in life echoes in eternity.", he is just so cool. I don't know how they are going to do Gladiator 2. I don't know why they are going to do Gladiator 2. But if Maximus is returning (somehow), then I will be excited.
10. Captain America (Marvel Cinematic Universe) : -2
If you are an MCU fan, Cap will be one of your favorite characters. He's so inspiring. The First Avenger introduced the character perfectly. His heroic sacrifice at the end of that film is one of the best moments in the MCU...and it is carried through eight more years of movies to the end of Avengers: Endgame, where he finally reunites with Peggy Carter and has that dance. His "man out of time" arc is just stunning, but when you add the character flaws and the sometimes toxic relationship he has with Iron Man, you get one of the best characters in the MCU, and one of my favorite heroes of all time.
9. Sarah Connor (The Terminator) : New
Sarah Connor is kind of like John McClane. She starts off as this normal girl that works as a waitress, but is suddenly thrown into this insane situation where a robot from the future is sent back in time to kill her. That is nuts. And it causes her to go kind of nuts. But she is written in a believable way. How would you react if you were relentlessly chased by a futuristic killing machine? Well, she spends years preparing for judgment day and for the war with the terminators, even raising her son to fight against these unstoppable robots. She's so awesome and written so well. I'm sad that there isn't going to be a sequel to Dark Fate, but I'm sure we will see Sarah again in the near future.
8. Yoda (Star Wars) : +4
The wisest of the wise. The Godfather of all mentors. Yoda is obviously one of the most iconic characters ever. He probably has the most recognizable look of any character on this list. But it's not the look. It's the ideology. It's the Jedi teachings. Everything that Yoda teaches Luke in The Empire Strikes Back is so cool. I love that George Lucas made the master of the force look like an older, less intimidating Kermit the Frog. It's such a genius way to show that the force is not about size and power...its about patience and learning. I love everything about this character. I love the way he talks and moves and teaches. But I also really love what he represents about the force and about the Star Wars galaxy.
7. Obi-Wan Kenobi (Star Wars) : +3
Obi-Wan Kenobi is the single consistently good about the Star Wars prequels. And he is great. In the original trilogy, Luke learns how to be a Jedi. But we don't really actually see him being a full-fledged Jedi master. But we do get to see Obi-Wan being a Jedi. And that's awesome. I also think he works as a mentor to Luke in A New Hope. He's just such a cool, likable character. I love him, and I'm super excited to see him return in his own show.
6. Batman (The Dark Knight) : -2
Batman is my favorite superhero of all time, and my favorite iteration of Batman (for now 😉) is Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne. Christoper Nolan told Batman's origin story perfectly. Batman Begins works as an awesome character study of Bruce Wayne, but his character is developed further in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. He is tested mentally by the Joker and then physically by Bane, and, because of that, Nolan is able to give us the fully fleshed-out version of the Bat. He's flawed. He's broken. But he rises and is able to actually save Gotham. He's awesome. I don't think any other Batman would beat him...but do not be surprised if Robert Pattison appears alongside Christian Bale on this list next year.
5. Han Solo (Star Wars) : +1
Easily the most charismatic character on this list, Han Solo is just one of the many things that makes the original Star Wars trilogy a landmark in cinema. The fun, charming side of the character is bolstered by Harrison Ford's unforgettable performance. Everything about him is so iconic: the look, the lines, the Millennium Falcon, his relationship with Chewbacca, his relationship with Luke, etc. He also does have a great arc, starting off as this arrogant and selfish scoundrel that owes money to a lot of people, but learns selflessness and humility through the rebellion and Luke and Leia. He's just so much fun while also being a great character, and that's the best type of combination.
4. Spider-Man (Marvel Cinematic Universe) : +1
I was surprised at how high I had Spider-Man last year, because No Way Home had not happened yet. But, now that No Way Home has happened and the first part of his character arc is complete...this version of Spider-Man is near perfect. After Homecoming, Tom Holland immediately became my favorite Spider-Man. And, after No Way Home, the first part of his journey is complete. Jon Watts is a genius. Instead of having Tom transform into classic Spider-Man in Homecoming, he let it play out over three movies. In Homecoming and Far From Home, he's careless and irresponsible. But, through No Way Home, he learns the cardinal lesson of being Spider-Man: "With great power comes great responsibility.". It's such an awesome arc and I cannot wait to see more of this character.
3. Harry Potter (Harry Potter) : -1
Harry Potter has been a vital part of my life. I have so much nostalgia from reading the books and watching the movies. I've loved this series from the moment I picked up Sorcerer's Stone from the library. I was Harry for Halloween one year. My connection to this character is rooted entirely in my nostalgia and love for the series and the character himself. Harry has always been an inspiration for me, and I love him for that. Besides all of my nostalgia for him, he's a great character. His story is a modern telling of the hero's journey, and it works really well. Harry Potter is a key part of my life, so he will always been on this list and probably always been in the top three.
2. Luke Skywalker (Star Wars) : +1
Speaking of childhood nostalgia, Star Wars was first introduced to me when I was three or four years old. As much as I love Harry Potter and the MCU, Star Wars was the film franchise of my childhood. And Luke Skywalker was the hero of my childhood. Star Wars is the classic hero's journey. A tale of good versus evil. And Luke Skywalker is that good. I've loved his return in the live-action Star Wars shows. I don't think it's cheap or gimmicky. Luke is just a fabulous character. He's been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. And, like Harry, he will probably always remain in the top three.
1. Iron Man (Marvel Cinematic Universe) : Same Spot
Harry Potter and Star Wars were my childhood. But the MCU is my favorite franchise ever. I've been in love with this series since Infinity War blew my mind in the theater. And the entire MCU goes back to one character. Iron Man is perfect. From Robert Downey, Jr.'s infectiously charming performance to the long and amazing arc that carries through the entire Infinity Saga, Iron Man is the core of the MCU. His arc of overcoming selfishness and making the sacrifice to save the world from Thanos is...I don't even know the word for it. It's flawless. Iron Man is the reason that the MCU is the biggest thing of all time. Without him, there's no Avengers. There's no Black Panther. There's no Spider-Man. There's no Doctor Strange. And I love him for that. He will always be on top. He's the best.