Undiminished Heroics

Day five of the 25 Days of Stadarooni is here and with it one day closer to happy times. With a shorter entry today, we will not be repeating the same mistake of last Thursday with all praise but nothing to bite on. This post will serve as a sort of precursor to what is coming this Friday, which I am sure is to be very exciting for those of you who like this content in this very post…

In nearly every story, there is a hero. They may undergo change, be very proficient in a certain skill, or have one defining feature that sets them apart from the crowd. They may undergo a hero’s journey or a coming of age. From the likely to the unlikely, anyone can be a hero in any certain circumstance. While this holds truth, it may not necessarily be the best catch for epic storytelling. A protagonist who rescues cats from trees is a good guy, but where is that extra pint of pizzazz that sells and cements a story throughout time?

If you judged that this post would be about the Master Chief from the above image, please give yourself a pat on the back for lack of subtlety. While he may seem like a simple badass soldier with no merit, we will be taking a look at his portrayal in Halo 4 and how it perfectly captures what I believe a hero should be like.

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The first thing to look over is a hero’s flaw. In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker is not the most patient and matured hero. In The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins is quite lazy and not very familiar with adventuring. In Halo 4, the Master Chief has a very clear and defined flaw: he is used to playing the hero. Success is his mandate, and nothing will stop him from achieving it. In order to mix things up, what if this indoctrinated war machine saw his close friend dying within his very mind? What if he faced an adversary which had the capability to beat him? How would he react to this?

This is one of the core plot points which Halo 4 nails down extremely well. His discomfort to Cortana dying is very subtle, and the fact that the world around him has evolved (and debatably moved on from him) puts him in an awkward situation where his knowledge and isolation from the rest of humanity makes him the only one able to stop the imminent threat that could spell out human subversion to the imperialistic ideology of the Mantle of Responsibility. He is forced to go against the orders of his superiors, and pursues this threat, eventually taking the fight to human-occupied territory with numerous lives lost.

Of course, he succeeds in this regard, but in the end, he feels as if he failed. This is due to the fact that Cortana fades away at the end of this game’s campaign, and his vulnerable human side is revealed as for the first time in years, he takes off his armour.

What makes this journey so compelling is that the Master Chief’s heroics or put in full display and analyzed beautifully in the plot. His weakness of emotions and familiarity are pushed into the forefront in meaningful ways, forcing him to adapt, although not without consequence. He acts as an independent human being rather than a tool of destruction, with the latter simply being a fate which he accepted a long time ago and was done for the greater good. We see the story of Halo 4 from the side of humanity, and it is true that the Covenant calls him ‘Demon’ and the Forerunners call him ‘Reclaimer.’ The latter may be ambiguous as to whether or not they perceive him as a threat or a herald, but both are signs of respect to this hero figure.

To me, this is how a hero should be constructed. They are very adaptable and skilled, but they do have flaws and room to develop as people. Furthermore, they are people and are vulnerable and not perfect in morals or skills. They are not the epitome of all good will, as that makes supporting characters too submissive. Of course, a good antagonist or anti-hero should be provided as a foil to the protagonist, so they are challenged to the edge of their abilities or even beyond them. Halo 4 does all this, and although it may not be perfect, it did capture the hero’s journey very well for the Master Chief.

With that being our end, I thank you for your time, and I promise you that this will be an exciting week to enjoy. Until next time.

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