We at the Daily Geekette believe strongly in equality among the nerds. As many articles have been created to pay homage to the “Strong, Female Protagonist,” we thought it only fair to celebrate some strong male protagonists. Here are the men who come to mind when we stop and consider, just what makes a protagonist strong? In a woman, the desired qualities seem to be emotional resilience, intelligence, and sarcastic tendencies. Do those qualities stay desirable when the table is flipped? Keep reading to find out.
Goku – Dragon Ball & Dragon Ball Z submitted by Brianna Murch
Goku, one of the most iconic characters from action anime, started out as an innocent-looking orphan in the woods and became the biggest hero. He teamed up with a brainy girl on a quest and DIDN’T fall in love with her (shocker!). He did accidentally get engaged to another girl along the way but that’s because he thought marriage was a tasty food. Goku is dedicated to his family – his family being the entire planet Earth whose behind he has to save every other week. And just when you thought he was already the pinnacle of physical strength, a new baddie comes on the scene and Goku unlocks NEW levels of power to beat them!
Bruce Wayne submitted by Kayla Farber
To me, Bruce Wayne is the epitome of a strong, male character. He definitely overcomes past tragedies, including the death of his parents. He fights for justice for his community using not just brute strength, but intelligence, his tragic backstory, and all his money. He definitely doesn’t put his romantic interests before saving the day, which is awesome. No “Women in Refridgerator Syndrome” here.
Rupert Giles submitted by Sarah Wanger
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is by far one of my favorite television shows. Its strong female lead kicks some major butt, and with the help of her friends, is unstoppable. The show makes me go through a whole string of emotions each time I watch it: Fear, excitement, anticipation, loss. I’ve cried for both positive and negative reasons while watching all 7 seasons. But my favorite character is not, in fact, Buffy Summers — it’s Rupert Giles.
Giles is the librarian at Buffy’s high school, and is the one who introduces her to her powers as the slayer. He’s her Watcher — her guardian and guide to unlocking her potential. While seemingly a nervous fidgeting bookworm, Giles always points Buffy and the gang in the right direction. He even struggles with his role in Buffy’s life — singing a song called “Standing” one episode about potentially being in her way of growing. If his loyalty, knowledge, love, and strength doesn’t put him on the “Strong, Male Protagonist” list, I don’t know of anyone else that should be.
Jacob Black submitted by Deanna Farber
Jacob Black has consistently been one of the strongest male characters in modern young adult literature. He starts off in Twilight as weak and impartial, but as the series moves forward he becomes stronger both physically and mentally. Of course, being a shapeshifter also helps a little with this but it is clear that he gained a voice. While Bella shows no interest in dating him, Jacob does not back down from what he wants. He uses any means necessary to kiss Bella and is not at all deterred by her physical protestation when she punches him in the face. He finally gets her to kiss him “by choice” when he uses his wits to convince her of it. Jacob is obscenely loyal to Bella through all four books and only falters in his loyalty after he imprints on Renesmee. Jacob Black is a man who stands out in a world full of women. Twilight has been constantly burdened with strong women that it’s a rare chance for a male character to shine, and Jacob Black indeed shines.
Kazuto “Kirito” Kirigaya submitted by Hope Kim
If we’re talking strong male protagonists, Kazuto “Kirito” Kirigaya of Sword Art Online has to make the list. As a “beater” or beta-tester for the eponymous video game, Kirito is nearly invincible. Like most heroes in harem-based anime, he is both charmingly oblivious and reckless when it comes to love – that is, if you define “love” as having multiple girls drape themselves over you while everyone else basks in the utter glory of your own awesomeness. Even outside of Aincrad and Alfheim, Kirito is as two-dimensional as a character can be.
Honestly? I think the series would have been much more interesting if it’d been about the bromance between Kirito and Klein, but that is neither here nor there.
Kylo Ren submitted by Kayla Farber
Though Ren is not a protagonist (yet?), he is a strong male character. This is a man in a position of power who does not have a romantic interest, isn’t afraid to show his emotions, and stands up to his enemies when he feels he’s in the right. Though he is a loose cannon, he saves his most emotional moments from being known by waiting until he’s in the privacy of his own quarters, with no one to hear him except the skull of his dead grandfather.
As tongue in cheek as some of these are, I think these make a really interesting point. How these men see women/treat women plays a role in whether or not we see them as strong. Another recurring theme from the above passages is that many of them are single. This is a quality also seen for strong female characters, such as Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road. Physical strength is an outstanding characteristic of many of these men. Likewise, we love that Katniss can be a BAMF with the bow and arrow, and Black Widow can take down any opponent. That being said, is it important for girls to have female role models? Yes. Can we agree that “strong female protagonist” is not superfluous with “role model?” I hope so! At the very least, I think we can all agree “strong female protagonist” is absolutely meaningless.