They don't make 'em like they used to. Movie heroes, that is. This was proven when Empire Magazine recently asked readers to vote for their favorite movie hero of all time. Running and dodging past current superheroes and secret agents, and whip-swinging to the front of the list, Indiana Jones took the crown of the most popular hero ever in films, beating out Ellen Ripley from the Alien franchise, who came in second.
The list consists of 50 movie heroes, and crosses a wide range of genres and time periods. There is Batman, James Bond, Atticus Finch, Imperator Furiosa, Marty McFly, Alex Foley, John Wick, Trinity, Black Widow, and Samwise Gamgee among many others. If anything, the list proves that audiences can appreciate heroes of any size, shape or gender, whether they are punching alien despots in the face like the Avengers or standing up for the rights of the everyman like Atticus Finch.
Fans of Indiana Jones will be delighted by and in complete agreement with his place at the top of the list. The character was designed by Steven Spielberg to be a James Bond-type in a classic 'hidden treasure quest' setting. Thanks to the iconic original Indiana Jones trilogy, not to mention the badass appeal Harrison Ford was able to imbue the character with, Indy went on to carve an indelible niche in the pop culture landscape, to the extent that in a sea of iterations of James Bonds, there is only one version of Indiana Jones.
The character's impact has been felt in every subsequent decade of Hollywood filmmaking and other mediums. The Mummy movies starring Brendan Fraser were heavily inspired by the Indiana Jones aesthetic. Tomb Raider, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ducktales, and Uncharted all feature characters that owe a lot of their adventures and characterization to Indy.
In second place, Ellen Ripley's popularity is also thoroughly well deserved. Sigourney Weaver played the character, not as an invincible Superwoman, but as a vulnerable soldier trying her best to escape the nightmare of tackling the alien Xenomorphs aboard a spaceship. Ripley along with the Terminator's Sarah Connor redefined the possibilities of the female action hero, and characters like Lara Croft and Furiosa are simply following in their footsteps.
It is good to see the list populated by characters from a range of movies, and not just superhero flicks, proving that it takes more than superpowers and a fancy costume to make an impression on audiences. Indiana Jones is gearing up to make such an impression once again with a new film, this time helmed by James Mangold of Logan fame. Harrison Ford has spoken in a recent interview about their desire to do justice to the legacy of the franchise with a dynamic new take.
"I don't really want to give [audiences] what they want to see, I want to give them something they didn't anticipate. They are used to a degree of disappointment when you revisit. Certainly, the Marvel movies have made a spectacular example of a success [that] worked the other way around, they killed it! Well, we're not going to make another Indiana Jones unless we are in a position to kill it. We want it to be the best. We've got some scheduling issues and a few script things to do but we are determined to get it right before we get it made."
This poll was conducted over at Empire Online.