Heroes Week – The Last-Minute Martyr

Also known as the post that will undoubtedly involve some spoilers because it’s hard to talk about heroes making the ultimate sacrifice without giving away some major plot points. You’ve all been warned, so there’s that I guess.

It seems oddly appropriate that tonight’s post is about heroes who save the day by dying, as I feel like I’m dying. Related: I’m expanding this to include heroes who made the last-minute saving play knowing they would probably die (even if they didn’t), as that makes life a little easier for me and that’s what these posts are(n’t) all about. From here further, you are risking spoilers of various sorts. You were warned, damn it!

The Last-Minute Martyr is an interesting sort of hero (hence starting the week with them). They’re not always the best in terms of having a strong moral compass, oftentimes instead showing signs of being self-serving, apathetic towards tragedy, and pretty shitty people overall. If you haven’t thought of the movie version of Tony Stark by now, I’m not sure I’m making that obvious enough. Going along with that previous comment, these characters aren’t exactly beloved among their peers. Quite the opposite in most cases, it seems. This distrust and lack of camaraderie seems to fuel a need to prove oneself in these Last-Minute Martyr types, though that’s not always the case.

Last-Minute Martyrs can, and frequently are, the product of a morally so-so character having some revelation about their ways and getting their shit together in the most heroic way possible (sometimes at the worst possible time). It may be the realization that, say, there’s more to life than just being a billionaire playboy philanthropist. Or it’s a matter of stepping out from a villainous parent-figure’s shadow, becoming their own person, etc. Of course, there’s also the possibility of trying to atone for past transgressions.

My heart isn’t really in this post, as my stomach is made of pain. Onwards to some examples!

Tony Stark –

Here’s an example of someone who was willing to lose his life to save the day…to survive and keep being a bit of an asshole, actually. To clarify now so as to save myself some headaches: I’m going off of the Marvel Comics Universe MOVIES version of Tony Stark. I’m not nearly the comic fan I should be, but if any of you want to find some time off for me to catch up on decades worth of graphic novels and so on I’m up for that. Right. So He starts off as this jackass who is only concerned with making obscene amounts of money from creating weapons. His weapons fall into the wrong hands, he has a life-changing experience in all ways possible, and so on. Same sort of cycle in the less-beloved Iron Man 2 and the more enjoyable Iron Man 3, of course. The martyr moment in question, however, is near the end of The Avengers. You all know the scene. There’s a nuke about to turn New York into the latest installment in the Fallout video game franchise, and so Tony intercepts said nuke and flies it into the interdimensional portal. His suit runs out of power, icing up, and he plummets back to Earth (while all of the Chitauri found themselves becoming rapidly extra crispy…Extra Crisptauri? Nevermind.) with no possible hope of survival…Right? Except he makes it back through right before the portal closes, leaving all of Loki’s sneaky plans presumably ruined. From here on, audiences are treated to a kinder, gentler Tony Stark who appreciates life and the importance of acting for others as well as himself (This statement ignores how Iron Man 3 is loaded with past enemies popping up at Tony Stark’s doorstep to ruin his life). Right? I mean, at least until the events that lead up to the impending Civil War. We’ll cross that corpse-covered bridge later.

Hiroshi Sato –

SPOILERS, GUYS. Hiroshi Sato played a relatively minor role in The Legend of Korra. He starts off as a pretty cool guy for someone who invented automobiles and deadly war-machines, but then it’s revealed he’s actually one of the nutballs who supports Amon in his quest for Equalism/Equality (which, really, translated to getting rid of bending because Amon had a terrible childhood, but that’s not really relevant here). Asami, of course, reacts rather poorly when she realizes that her father has been a gigantic asshat this whole time. Unkind comments about parenting skills are made, and Hiroshi ends up in prison. Fast-forward all the way to Book 4, in which Kuvira is rampaging all over the place in a skyscraper-sized mech. Hiroshi makes peace with Asami, helping her fit the weird hummingbird-themed aircraft with plasma cutters to help get through The Colossus’ platinum exterior. Family ties are repaired just in time for Hiroshi to sacrifice himself, ejecting Asami from the craft at the last second, to ensure Team Avatar can get into The Colossus to stop Kuvira. Kuvira, by the way, was a special kind of crazy, but I didn’t want to mention her on the Villains Week list because SPOILERS, GUYS. Criminy. I’m evil, but not that evil.

Velen –

The Draenor incarnation of Velen. Not the one who apparently can’t pilot a spacecraft to save his life. That guy’s still alive and well, as far from the front-lines of war against the Iron Horde as possible without being, well…Dead. Draenor-Velen has a brief involvement in questing for heroes, which starts with a series of really tedious chores that made me damn his name. Ner’zhul summons forth the Dark Star. Visions of this very event are seen by the player beforehand, showing just how bad things will be if said Dark Star is summoned. Velen sacrifices himself, purifying the Naaru that was the Dark Star. I only mention him as a martyr as this death, while rather abrupt, felt like a low blow.

Tune in tomorrow for some lovable rogues, and a hopefully less-sickly writer.

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