Friday, August 19, 2011
THE ULTIMATE GAMMA HERO
The concept of a Gamma hero is not new. It’s been around for about twenty years since Deb Stover defined the hero archetype, but you may not know what it means.
I like the explanation Jo Davis gives. “The Alpha male is tough, opinionated, stubborn, and sometimes downright rude or mean. But don’t judge him too harshly because there’s always a deep-seated reason he’s this way, and he’s a good man, through and through. Betas are affectionate, loyal, happy, and basically non-violent.” The nice guy you want your daughter to marry.
“The Gamma male is the perfect blend of the best traits of Alpha and Beta males. This type is funny, loving, and insightful. He’ll take his lady for walks in the park or whisk her to Paris. He may have a wonderful sensitive side, but he also has a hair-trigger when it comes to protecting the ones he loves.”
Suzanne Brockmann uses Han Solo as an example of Alphas we love. She describes a scene in The Empire Strikes Back to illustrate why we love Han Solo, but I think it skillfully depicts what makes him an Alpha.
It’s the intense scene between Han Solo and Leia -- when Darth Vader is about to test Lando's carbon-freezing unit on Han. Proud, stubborn Princess Leia is in a near panic that within moments the scoundrel, intergalatic smuggler, rebel hero and her dear friend, Han Solo, could die. As Han is pushed toward his fate, he lunges for Leia, and she for him, and they kiss passionately before they are torn apart -- perhaps forever.
Leia, as strong as she is, is still a woman. "I love you," she tells him.
Han stands there, perhaps about to die, a hard, strong alpha male to the end with his head held high, and says, "I know."
It doesn’t get more Alpha than that. So who is the ultimate Gamma?
Captain America. The first Avenger.
I didn’t have high hopes for this movie (although deservedly higher than Thor and much higher than the Green Lantern, which I’m waiting for on video). Perfect heroes can be annoying and hard to love with all their…well, perfection. But I thoroughly enjoyed it.
By showing us the physically weak Steve Rogers first and his unflappable determination to serve the greater good despite his limitations, we are immediately won over by the sympathetic character. Far from a coward, he is an underdog with the heart, guts, and brains of a superhero. When he becomes Captain America, we’re already rooting for him to save the world and get the girl.
As he grows into his new role, we ache for him to have a chance to realize his potential. But it’s not given. He seizes it, succeeds, earns the respect he deserves and we love him even more. Through all of the sleek action, which didn’t feel repetitive, and death-defying heroics he never loses his compassion, develops an inflated ego, or is afraid to let his tenderness show.
The final scene of the movie nearly broke my heart. (Spoiler Alert) *All I could think was, awwww…Captain America is still a virgin.*
I thought for certain Iron Man would be my favorite Avenger. Besides the fact that I ADORE Robert Downey, Jr., he’s the kind of Alpha I can’t get enough of. But now I’m torn.
The film had some faults. See my complaints in the comments section if you're interested.
If you like underdogs, seeing a bully get what he deserves, action, and a hero anyone can believe in, then go see Captain America.
So which type of hero do you prefer, Alpha or Gamma?