It’s shocking how tough it was to find cinematic heroes that are minorities. If I wanted to make a list about minority gang members, or thugs in movies, I’d have a list a mile long, but heroes? It’s tough. In the end I tried to compile a list of ten great minority heroes of the movies that wasn’t too obvious, but it’s slim pickings out there.
In either case, if we missed anyone, let us know in the comments!
Rufio – Hook
Rufio was one of the few minority characters in a major Spielberg film who was not only powerful but completely void of racial cliches. After a very long time without Neverland, Pan returns to the world as an adult. When he’s discovered by the Lost Boys, he learns his old group has moved on without him, and they’ve been led by the charismatic mohawked warrior Rufio. Rufio is very much like Pan, an eternally youthful young man who has confidence in himself, and fights for the leadership of the Lost Boys until the very end. Filipino actor Dante Basco’s performance as the eternally bad ass warrior who had the guts to fight Hook before Pan is immortal. Whether you like the film or not, Basco rivals folks like Williams and Hoffman in pure scene stealing glory. “Hook” was very unique in that it not only featured a minority in a major part of the story, but in the end, Pan leaves Neverland and gives the throne of leader to Thud Butt, the African American Lost Boy.
Vasquez – Aliens
Though the character isn’t played by a Hispanic woman, the character is also not named Vasquez and white washed, either. I’m looking at you Johnny Rico. Vasquez is not only another of the many strong feminine characters in the “Alien” saga, but also can keep up with all of the men in her troop. In fact, she could pretty much kick the asses of most of the guys in her troop, and fights until the bitter end in “Aliens.” Vasquez is a bad mama jama who gives the Xenomorphs a major hurt.
Sex Machine – From Dusk Till Dawn
Sex Machine is an inadvertent hero who ends up at the Titty Twister and finds himself about to be mutilated by hot stripper vampires. Blessed with the Cock gun he came strapping to the club, he manages to go from biker to vampire killer in seconds flat, engaging many of the vampires in fisticuffs, finishing off a large group of the femme vamps, and even brings down the brawling bartender Razor Charlie with wit, cunning, and his whip. He proves to be an excellent ally until the very end when he becomes a near unbeatable foe.
Rhodey – Iron Man 1, 2, 3
Rhodey was always one of the most underrated Marvel heroes of all time. He’s a military man and pure patriot who plays off of Tony Stark’s rebellious ways. In the comics, he’s mainly a sidekick to Tony who plays bodyguard to him, and fills in for Tony when he’s disabled. In the films, though, he takes a much more active and crucial role to the trilogy, inheriting the War Machine armor, and using Tony’s weapon to serve America. When his armor is stripped away he proves to be just as deadly, taking on super powered enemies who can regenerate limbs and never loses his stride.
Will Johnson – Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
Will Johnson is one of the more noble elements of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” Befriending Abe Lincoln as a boy, the two remain best friends even through to Lincoln’s presidential term. When Johnson learns of the vampire’s plot to enslave African Americans for all time and use them as food, as well as Lincoln’s defiance, he helps the president ship weaponry across the country to kill the legions of bloodsuckers. Will Johnson is an unflinching and brutal hero who battles the vampires on board a moving train, and gives them hell.
Frozone – The Incredibles
Frozone is one of the elements of Mr. Incredibles past that remind him of his glory days, while also helping him to move on with his life. Frozone only really goes along with his pal to fight crime because he fears for his friend’s life, and tries to talk some sense in to him. In the end, when the Earth is threatened again, Frozone comes to the rescue and helps to bring down Syndrome and his evil robot once and for all. He’s a character deserving of a spin-off.
El Wray – Terror Planet
El Wray is one of the many enigmatic heroes of the Robert Rodriguez verse, a man who spent most of his early years engaging in mysterious combat related activities, who now seeks quiet. Still brewing over his stormy relationship with stripper Cherry Darling, El Wray snaps in to action when he realizes his town is being overrun by spewing flesh eating zombies. He manages to surpass many of the walking dead, and uses his full blown martial arts skills to overcome a horde of them to retrieve his ex-girlfriend, and helps her find her own sense of heroism, in the end. El Wray is the only hero who can ride on a mini-cycle and still look bad ass.
Benny the Jet Rodriguez – SandLot
Benny is a character bereft of cliche and stereotypes, who is driven by his passion for baseball. He only wants to play baseball and be with his friends. During one summer, he learns about growing up, and moving on, when he and his friends attempt to retrieve a priceless baseball for his friend Scotty, they learn about not judging books by their covers, and they bond over their efforts to keep Scotty’s life trouble free in the midst of his mom’s new marriage to his step father. Benny’s motives are selfless until the very end, where he helps Scotty save the dreaded Beast, and connects with another baseball lover. One who manages to fuel his future as a Pro baseball player.
Sergeant Albrecht – The Crow
Alrbecht’s role in the graphic novel is minuscule, but with a re-write, and a great performance by Ernie Hudson, he’s the moral center in a city draped in darkness and overcome by evil. Albrecht is compelled to stay with Shelly Webster when she’s raped and left for dead, and he’s able to connect with the undead Eric Draven who finds a pure heart and hero in Albrecht. Though he seems humble and average, Albrecht is a hero until the very end, helping two lost souls rest.
John – Day of the Dead
In “Night” Ben was arguably the hero of the piece, the man who took charge and ultimately was the victim of his race rather than his predicament. In “Dawn,” Peter was a courageous hero who led his trio of survivors to dominate the mall, and then fled in the end to fight another day. In “Day,” John is the man who helps control travel and is one of the few people left who believes mankind is all but gone. During the whole of “Day,” he spends his time in his trailer mourning the death of mankind and is the last of man to hold the evidence that once upon a time man walked the Earth before being consumed by their dead.