Battle Damaged Badass
Hero is at His Best when Beaten Up


(permanent link) added: 2011-06-10 14:55:31 sponsor: KJMackley edited by: Ekuran (last reply: 2011-08-21 22:57:58)

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"It doesn't matter how much training you have, a broken rib is a broke rib."
Michael Westen- Burn Notice

Some heroes seem to have a Dirt Forcefield on, in fact their attire almost always looks ready for a photoshoot. Usually this photo-ready apparel is discarded towards the end, when you know that shit just got real.

This trope is more about when the hero's first adventure (possibly in the Cold Opening) starts out dirty and bloody and things only go further from there. It's meant to try and keep the hero relatable, they go through a beating and only keep fighting back and going forward. In it's most extreme cases, the fact the hero has taken so much punishment only serves to make them even more intimidating. If they look like that, then what do the other guys look like?

This is part of the appeal of The Determinator, it's the idea that we have a hero who can die at any time but they are just too stubborn. And which is more heroic, a Made of Iron badass who doesn't ever get hurt or the guy with a glass jaw who still ends up saving the day.

It isn't exclusively about injuries, but also about fears and a potential Heroic Sacrifice when called upon.


Examples:

  • This is one of the biggest appeals of all Jackie Chan movies, he isn't a completely unstoppable force of nature but he takes a lot of punishment and deals it right back. In First Strike he spent an entire action sequence in the snow wearing regular clothes with a thin t-shirt. When a MIB agent saw him shivering he asked him if he was cold, Jackie lifted his shirt to show he had nothing else underneath and said "What do you think?"
  • Indiana Jones: Particularly the scene on the boat where he tenderly nurses all his injuries. Also his general reaction to snakes is a reminder that he has his own issues, which only makes his entry into the tomb filled with snakes more heroic. And from the beginning they chose his wardrobe to be extremely well worn, they manually "aged" the leather jacket with steel wool.
  • Die Hard: Most films have a moment with John McClane bloodied and beaten up, but he just will not go down. The scene in the first film where he picks broken glass out of his bare feet is particularly notable.
  • Right in the first episode of Burn Notice Michael is given a beating by a group of thugs, and only barely escaping the country alive. In a moment with the kid of a client who was frequently beaten up at school, Michael showed him his still bruised ribs and explained that "I have four black belts and they still kicked my ass." and then he proceeded to train the kid how to better defend himself.
  • It was joked about on the set of The Lord of the Rings that Aragorn would progressively look more ratty and beaten-up over the course of the movies and Legolas, being an elf, would never have so much as a hair out of place or a hole in his wardrobe.
  • This is largely the selling point of the next Tomb Raider game, where Lara is constantly dirty and will get hurt from time to time.
  • Toy companies even get into the mood, often releasing "Battle Damaged" version of their products. Transformers and Gundam in particular. Some hobbyists even enjoy rigging up the pristine product themselves to be battle damaged.
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