Heroic Heelization Speech
Villains have many tools to use against a hero, head games being among the most favored. Whether it's the Hannibal Lecture
, Reason You Suck Speech
, or some other form of Breaking Speech
, villains love to use logic to convince the hero why they should give up and accept the inevitable, whether it be defeat, destruction, or worse.
Sometimes this goes horribly right
Enter the Heroic Heelization Speech
: the unintended result of a successful attempt to make the hero question their self worth, motivation, and goals. On these occassions, the hero, upon being given the breaking speech, agrees with every word the villain has said, acknowledging that they are in fact a Designated Hero
, or acting out a fantasy savior complex, or that the world is otherwise so lost
that their actions have no worth anyway. However, once deconstructed, the hero will then go on to explain how these newfound realizations given to them by their antagonist, have shown them that there's no reason why they can't give the villains a healthy taste of their own medicine.
The Heroic Heelization Speech
is all about two things: a morality shift, and irony. The morality shift occurs when the hero become sympathetic to the villain's point of view or methods, the irony occurs when the villain becomes a victim of said realization.
A hero giving this speech may slide into Anti-hero or villain territory: whether the hero goes all the way over to the dark side or not depends on whether the hero is seriously going dark, or is just making a point, and whether or not someone is there
to stop them. Sometimes, a hero who making this speech can have good sense slapped into them by a fellow hero, or the people they've saved before reminding them of the good they've done.
Compare "World of Cardboard" Speech
for when a breaking speech results in a hero accessing their true potential in a positive way. See Hannibal Lecture
and Breaking Speech
for what can cause this to begin with.
- In What's So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?, Superman appears to have gone this route. If the world is looking for him to be pushed over the edge by Darker and Edgier heroes, then he'll give them a Darker and Edgier Superman. It's terrifying.
- Occasionally random mooks will try to play the Not So Different card on Batman. The standard response is for him to point out that if he does decide to go over the edge into killing criminals, the first victim is likely to be the jerk insulting him within arm's reach.
- Gadget does this in the fanfic "Gadget in Chains": after being framed for a crime she didn't commit, and thrown in a hellhole of a prison in place of Lawhiney, an escaping Gadget happens upon Lawhiney on the road. When Gadget figures out who it is she is dealing with, and exactly how big the scam is, that, combined with some of the things she had to do to get out of prison, make her give a speech about how easy it is to not give a damn, before beating the tar out of Lawhiney and trying to kill her.
- In X-Men: First Class, Magneto has one of these when Sebastian Shaw tells him that all of the torture and abuse he put him through in a concentration camp only made him stronger, and that it's mutantkind's destiny to rule over humans.
- In Watchmen, Rorschach has one of these when he tracks down a killer who has cut up a little girl, fed her to dogs, and boiled her remains in a pot for supper. Rorschach has a break down after the crook dares Rorschach to take him to jail. Rorschach responds, saying "Men, get arrested...dogs, get put down!!!" before killing him. It should be noted that before this moment, Rorschach was your typical "no killing ever" straight hero.
- In The Paradoxes of Mr Pond by G. K. Chesterton, the story "When Doctors Agree" is an extended version of this. Doctor Campbell spends the story destroying his student's presbyterian faith, in order to get him to agree that it's justifiable to commit murder for the good of society. Once he's convinced his student, he then boasts that he's committed at least one murder in accordance with this philosophy. His student promptly and fatally removes him from society.
- Section 8: Prejudice has a Reveal halfway through that the reason there are no aliens in the setting is because humans killed them all. At the end, the Big Bad tells Captain Corde that "the Empire is built on the graves of millions". Corde more or less agrees, but as the Big Bad couldn't come up with any better solution than killing an entire colony of civilians pretty much at random...
- Advance Wars: Days of Ruin has a particularly nasty one after the previously golden-hearted protagonist, Will, is confronting a Blood Knight disaster scavenger.
The Beast: Gwar har har! They're all dead, punk! Your pretty little girlfriend too! You couldn't save 'em. How's it taste? Burns, doesn't it?
Will: WHY? Why did you do that? There was no reason...
The Beast: Reasons? I don't need reasons! I kill because I can! And now I'm gonna kill the rest so I can hear you cry some more. How's that sound? What's that? I can't HEEEEAAARRR you! C'mon, punk! Don't you have anything to say? I wanna hear you beg!
Will: I... I want to kill you.
The Beast: You threatening me, boy?
Will: You were right. I had no idea what war was really about. But I get it now. It's about anger and fear. It's about hate! My friends weren't looking to fight. They were innocent... You want to live like a beast? Fine! You can die like one, too!
- In 8-Bit Theater, White Mage has one (with some prodding from Black Mage) after Onrac is destroyed for the second time and she thinks her efforts at that point are futile.
The School of White Magic teaches us that there is a natural order to all things. A place and purpose for every person and event. Black Mage:
Go on. White Mage: Fighting our role in the fate of things is futile. Black Mage: C'mon personal epiphany! White Mage:
It's pretty obvious at this point that I am no great healer. I am not
the one that will bring order to a dying and chaotic world
. Black Mage: Almost there... White Mage:
There is no point in denying it any longer. I am White Mage, a destroyer of worlds! Black Mage:
That is so hot. My girlfriend is an armageddon
- Gargoyles. In the series premiere/movie, Goliath references a statement made to him by Demona earlier in the movie, where she asks him to go to war on humanity. After she is apparently killed by Xanatos, Goliath goes to throw him off his tower, stating (paraphrase) that she suggested that he go to war with the world, and that Xanatos would be a good place to start. Elisa talks him down by saying if he killed Xanatos than he would be no different from Demona.
- In Batman: The Animated Series, in the episode "Joker's Favor", Charlie gives one of these to The Joker of all people, after Joker has terrorized him and his family for years.
The Joker: You miserable little nobody! If I get caught, your wife and son are history!
Charlie Collins: You're not getting caught. Not this time. I found this blown out of the van. (reveals a Joker bomb) This is how it ends, Joker. No big schemes. No grand fight to the finish with the Dark Knight. Tomorrow all the papers will say is that the great Joker was found blown to bits in an alley alongside a miserable little nobody. Kinda funny. Ironic really. See, I can destroy a man's dreams too, and that's really the only dream you've got? Isn't it?
- Superman in both Superman vs. the Elite and the comic book source of said animated story. During their final fight, Superman takes a number of gruesome hits, to lull his opponents into a false sense of security, then uncorks a larger fraction of his full power, using it to present the illusion that he is killing each member of The Elite. When Manchester Black calls him on this, he replies that he finally understands what it is that they've been trying to tell him, and from now on he's going to be fighting crime their way. Unfortunately for them, they're going to be the first people he uses their new philosophy on. Fortunately for them, he was BSing them to make a point
- Justice League Unlimited episode "A Better World", in an alternate universe, Superman corners President Luthor in the White House. Luthor is trying to escape after a plot that has apparently gone terribly wrong and caused the death of the Flash. Luthor is about to try to attempt to launch some device (possibly nukes), but is told by Superman that he can stop him. Luthor taunts Superman, saying that Superman's ego is the whole reason for this mess and that the worst thing that will happen is he will go to jail and the whole thing will start all over again. Superman agrees, before frying him with his heat vision.
- While not looking to go as far as the Justice Lords did, the end of the story has Batman musing on whether or not they can really change things if they don't cross some kind of line.
- In the anthology Superman/Shazam, Captain Marvel does this after finally getting the upper hand on Black Adam, who had been taunting him just moments earlier with Marvel's weakness.
Superman: Easy there. You've got him.
Black Adam: It changes you, does it not? The power.
Captain Marvel: It only changes that I can choose my own fate now.
Black Adam: Like a god, maybe.
Superman: That's enough.
Captain Marvel: No, I have to. To protect them.
Superman: How? By being like him?
Captain Marvel: By being stronger than him.
Superman: Then be strong. Be good.