Welcome to Five by Friday!
Star Trek: Beyond hits theaters today, and since only 2/3 of us are Trekkies, we wanted to do something that paid tribute to the latest entry in the Trek canon while still allowing all three of us to participate. So instead of listing our favorite Trek characters or episodes, we’ve decided to go a totally different route and list our five favorite fictional captains across all genres. We allowed ourselves the freedom to include honorary captains instead of sticking to official titles, but limited ourselves to only characters who held the title of “Captain” during the story in which we saw them.
Join us in the comments or on your own blog–we’ve even provided a graphic for you, which you can either save to your own space or link from tinypic using the following HTML code: <a href=”http://avengingforce.com”><img src=”http://i59.tinypic.com/2d9318w.jpg”><*/a> Just remove the asterisks, and you’re all set!
There are so many great fictional captains out there that it was agonizingly difficult to pick my favorites. Even after eliminating duplicates with Sarah and Teija (of which there were many), narrowing my list down to only five was painful. Ultimately, I went with my gut and picked five Captains who may not all be iconic (though some are), but whom, for whatever reason, I feel a strong emotional attachment to. However, although they didn’t make the top five, I’d like to give some honorable mention shoutouts to Captains Hook, Awesome, Hammer, Amazing, Raymond Holt, and Will Turner.
There was some debate as to whether Professor John “O Captain My Captain” Keating qualified for this list, and ultimately we decided that since he went primarily by “Professor Keating” and not Captain Keating, he didn’t count. But I’d like to state for the record that he’s on the list of my heart.
5) Captain Karl “Helo” Agathon, Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar Galactica was a bit of a bumpy ride for me. When it was on, it was really on, but when it was off, it made me want to throw things at my TV. Helo, on the other hand, was a consistent high point in an otherwise up-and-down show. From the moment at the beginning of the series when he selflessly offered up his seat to Baltar, Helo had my heart, and he kept it all the way through to the end. I loved his relationship with Sharon, his loyalty to his family, and how he always strove to do the right thing, even when everything seemed to be working against him. He was one of the few characters on BSG that I felt the show got right throughout the entire series, and remains one of my favorite TV characters of all time.
4) Tauriel, Captain of the Mirkwood Guard, The Hobbit Trilogy
I wasn’t going to pick Tauriel, because ugh the Hobbit movies and ugh deviations from canon and ugh Peter Jackson why did you make the choices you made, but then I figured, you know what? Screw it. Because all my issues with the Hobbit trilogy aside (and make no mistake, I have many issues with the Hobbit trilogy), I still unabashedly adore Tauriel. Yes, she is completely a product of Peter Jackson’s headcanon and not Tolkien’s imagination. No, I do not care at all. She is amazing and kind and scrappy and brave and… wait, why am I listing all her winning qualities here, when I wrote a whole post on how much I love her? Just go read that. I’ll wait.
3) Captain Steven Hiller, Independence Day
There were a lot of factors that came together to make Independence Day shine – Bill Pullman’s speech, Harry Connick Jr.’s face, Jeff Goldblum’s… um… everything – but after watching Independence Day: Resurgence (which, for the record, was not nearly as bad as I’d feared), it is crystal clear to me that one of the main reasons the original has stood the test of time is something the sequel unfortunately lacked entirely: Will Smith’s performance as Captain Steven Hiller. It includes all the things we love about the Peak Will Smith era: wisecracking one-liners in the face of insurmountable odds, heroic swagger, selfless bravery, just the right amount of physical comedy, and a soft spot for family and kids. Plus there is just something endlessly endearing about that scene where he has managed to bring down one alien fighter out of like, a million, and Jimmy is dead, and he’s in the middle of nowhere, and he is stuck in his parachute, but he still finds it in himself to trash talk the unconscious alien.
2) Captain H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock, The A-Team
My childhood television viewing habits consisted of three things: Saturday morning cartoons, Nickelodeon, and The A-Team. I blame the latter for my lifelong love of many things, including but not limited to ensemble shows, large explosions, improbable heists, and characters who can build complex machines out of whatever random objects happen to be at their disposal (yes, while most of the world has MacGyver to thank for this, for me it has always been The A-Team). And while I love each of the four core cast members, my favorite by far has always been Murdock. I loved his quirkiness and his absurd sense of humor and the unbridled joy he brings to each scene. I even loved him in the 2010 movie, which was completely absurd, but which got the essence of the characters so right that I didn’t even care.
1) Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation
There was never really any question in my mind as to who would claim the #1 spot on this list. Captain Picard is, and shall always be, the ultimate Captain — and commanding officer in general, really — in my book. With his endless wisdom, passion for doing what is right, calmness under pressure, and ability to deliver a stirring speech, Picard is the kind of person you want making decisions when the situation looks dire. It’s no wonder the crew of the Enterprise was willing to follow him into seemingly impossible scenarios, time after time throughout the series, because honestly? I would too.
It turns out that I really love a lot of fictional captains and as a result there were so many who did not make my list (or Teija’s list or Lauren’s list). There was bartering, and debating, and rearranging, and adding on, and taking off. But I finally settled on my top five captains. And to those who didn’t make the list (Captain Adama, Captain Awesome, Captain Hook, Captain Hammer, and so many more) I still love you.
5) Captain Shakespeare, Stardust
I did not know what to expect when I saw Stardust for the first time, but it was definitely not Robert De Niro as the most delightful airship Captain EVER. The movie deftly moved him back and forth between this brash, gruff pirate who took people prisoner to this kind, gentle soul who took pleasure in bringing other people happiness. But he can also kill you dead if you mess with those he considers his, which is my favorite kind of person.
4) Captain Malcolm Reynolds, Firefly
While time and fandom frenzy has slightly diminished my initial love of Firefly, nothing can ever diminish my love for Captain Mal. He is extremely loyal to his crew, even to the point of considering them family and he has earned their loyalty and love in return. But what really defines Mal and cements him as one of my top five is that despite being a smuggler, he retains his moral compass. There are a lot of things he will do, jobs he will take, in order to feed his crew, but he draws a hard line and won’t take from those in need in order to do it.
3) Captain Elizabeth Swann, Pirates of the Carribbean
I loved Elizabeth Swann from the very first movie, and everything I loved about her from the start are all the traits that lead to her becoming Captain of her very own ship and later Pirate King (thanks to Captain Jack Sparrow). She’s smart, fearless, cunning, and will do anything and everything to save the people that she loves.
2) Captain America/Steve Rogers, Marvel Comics
I liked Captain America in the comics I read when I was younger, but he really catapulted towards the top of my Captain list with his inclusion in the MCU. Even before he was Captain America, Steve Rogers was willing to go above and beyond for his country, his family, and his friends. And as Captain those traits were even more amplified and you know he’d never, ever let you down.
1) Captain Han Solo, Star Wars
Was there any question, any shred of doubt, who would be my number one captain? Han Solo, Captain of the Millenium Falcon, is the stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy looking nerf-herder of my heart. He grows so much over the course of the original trilogy, going from a smuggler who always puts himself first, to part of a team and a family that he loves and cares for.
Organizing this list was difficult. Not only did we have a massive pool of candidates to draw from, full of delightful captains from film and literature, but we also have a lot of crossover in our interests so refraining from duplicates meant there was bartering. It worked out in the end, but narrowing things down was a pretty difficult task. I am pleased to see some that I was unable to fit in my own list on the lists above, but am still sad that we weren’t able to fit more here. But it’s all right: Captains Gantu and Amelia, you are the animated captains of my heart, and I have not forgotten you.
5) Captain Benjamin Sisko, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Deep Space Nine is my favorite Trek, and so it should come as no surprise that Sisko is the Trek Captain of my heart. He commanded an old refurbished Cardassian ore refinery station in a part of the galaxy full of criminals and thieves, and he managed to keep things running by what sometimes seemed to be no more than sheer force of will. He maintained a level head in the face of everything that came before him, and charmingly, he was a baseball enthusiast–in the 24th century. He’s basically the future version of a Ren Faire nerd who is super into the tourney. He’s one of us.
4) Davos Seaworth, A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones
Davos has held many titles in his life, but he absolutely qualifies for this list, as his life before Stannis was as captain of his own smuggling ship, and “Captain of the Black Betha” is his current title in the books. The man knows ships. The Onion Knight has been a favorite of mine since I read the books because he’s one of the few characters in George R.R. Martin’s creation that seems to have a sound mind and a healthy dose of common sense. The show only exacerbated my love for him by casting the charismatic Liam Cunningham, who really brings a lot of life into the character (and an accent I can’t get enough of). His loving relationship with Shireen Baratheon only cemented his place on the list.
3) Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean
You knew you’d see him somewhere on this post, you just didn’t know when. The inimitable Jack Sparrow, Captain of the Black Pearl (well, most of the time). While these movies are up and down in their quality, they are overall thoroughly enjoyable for what they are (even the fourth one), and Jack is a large part of why. From the moment he sails onto the screen atop the mast of a sinking dinghy, he steals every scene he’s in, and he brings a life and swagger to every situation he finds himself in. There’s no Pirates of the Caribbean without Captain Jack Sparrow.
2) Captain Marvel, Marvel Comics
Captain Marvel, queen of my heart. Light of my life. She comes so close to the top of the list, and if not for a lifelong love affair with the reigning king of the list, she would probably sit atop the pile, hands glowing with the light of her powers, a mischevious grin on her face. I could go on for days about why Carol Danvers is so important to me, but why would I reiterate the post I wrote about her, if I can just link it here instead?
1) Faramir, Captain of Gondor and Captain of the White Tower, Lord of the Rings
Oh, Faramir. It may or may not actually be clear here on Avenging Force that Lord of the Rings is my wheelhouse, but it is. I am that person that actually re-reads the trilogy on a near-annual basis. I am the person that can quote entire passages from memory. I am that person who learned some Elvish in high school because I wanted to write in Quenya and Sindarin on my binders. I am that person. And I am right there with the rest of my people in griping about Peter Jackson’s absolute butchery of Faramir in The Two Towers. “Book Faramir would never!” was a cry heard loud and often in my home, and even still on rewatch, it grates at my nerves, even though I understand narratively why introducing a character who doesn’t care a whit about having the One Ring doesn’t work on film. But it’s okay! I have come to terms with it, because the books will always be there, and Faramir–sweet, perfect, poetic Faramir–is preserved forever between their covers where I can find him whenever I want to. For you and I have both passed under the wings of the shadow, and the same hand drew us back.