Character Analysis: Gran Torino

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s a child, perhaps you thought highly of quintessential heroes and heroines such as, Superwoman, Captain America, Iron Man or any other symbolic icon that seems to always do good. You endeavoured to be exactly like them. But could you really, could you really be so supreme? As a society you have grown up with these caped figures being all that you know. However these characters are far too predictable, optimistic and perfect to ever be relatable.

An atypical hero, also known as a three-dimensional hero or an effective hero, doesn’t necessarily have to be a caped figure capable of invisibility or unlimited lives but a character that is idolised for their courage and bravery regardless of their imperfections. To be a truly effective hero, relatable characteristics must be visible to the audience. Whilst
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Kowalski is known for being a ‘retired old man’, isolating himself from family and friends. He takes it upon himself and his petulant nature to scare off a gang persistently bullying his young neighbour Thao. Thao’s family is from a very religious and strict culture, where Thao’s personality seems to clash. Walt Kowalski chooses to take him on-board and find him a stable job to support his family. Thao and Walt begin to form a strong bond over the last few weeks of Kowalski’s life. Although Thao wasn’t perfect and needed work, Walt put that aside and saw Thao as an opportunity to create a better community, one step at a time. Walts desire to change his community can and will inspire the audience into doing better everyday and not to be perfect. So what defines an effective hero? Is it someone who is a leader, experiences pitfall and can be familiarised with traits of our own. Or someone who is annoyingly perfect and at no time seems to sense failure, or
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