Heroic movie characters stand up for what they feel is right, and they stick to those beliefs in situations that would leave most of us forsaking every oath we've ever sworn and tossing our loved ones to the ground as obstacles while we flee to safety. However, in some cases the hero spends the entire film spouting ideological rhetoric only to cash it in like a two-dollar scratch ticket the moment it gets in the way of accomplishing his or her goals.
#6. Morpheus in The Matrix Fights Against Slavery, Has an Army of Child Soldiers
What He's All About:
The Matrix teaches us the powerful lesson that being enslaved by robots would suck the eternal ball sack of gangrenous horror. So right now, as a unified people, let's agree to not let that happen.
Anyway, in the films, Morpheus leads a small resistance force comprised of men and women who have been freed from the machines' enslavement program to rise up and fight for their right to lead lives of freedom, choice, and non-liquefaction into robot-feeding jelly. Everyone deserves to be in control of their own fate, and no living thing should be subjected to the whims of a powerful overlord.
"Although it is important that we all match."
The entire resistance in The Matrix is made up of brainwashed child soldiers.
Think about it -- when Neo is recovering from getting his brain unplugged from the robots' Dream Machine, Morpheus explains to him that he and his fellow rebels "never free a mind once it's reached a certain age. It's dangerous. The mind has trouble letting go." Zion evidently doesn't subscribe to the teachings of En Vogue.
Basically, Morpheus is saying that adults tend to have trouble letting go of the Matrix (this becomes a major plot point when a member of their team betrays them for the opportunity to get plugged back in). So they recruit kids, because kids are more impressionable, more willing to take up an idealistic cause, and more pliable -- they can be handed weapons and told to kill something without asking too many questions. They are then tossed into a world of violence and strife and told that their lives can have only one path (death to all robots). Which is slavery. Which is the thing Morpheus is supposed to be fighting against.
"Your name is Router. What's your name?"
If what Morpheus tells Neo is true, he had to have built his entire army out of juveniles, which is an implication that the movie never directly addresses. The closest we get is Mouse, who looks like he's about 14 and is horribly shot to death about 80 minutes into the movie.
Definitely not the first time he's leaked bodily fluids on that chair.
And allow us to recap how the recruitment process begins -- some people in black trench coats show up unannounced in the middle of the night and offer a young person a mystery pill. You know who else gives kids drugs and enlists them to fight ideological wars? Some of the worst people in the entire goddamn world. There's a reason the International Labor Organization considers underage soldiering a form of slavery, and it's because kids are too young to properly understand the choice they're making (or being told to make). Besides, we have to believe that if they knew how the second and third movies would turn out, most of them would have told Morpheus to shove that red pill as far up his urethra as science will allow and plugged themselves right back into the giant robot Slurpee machine to await blessedly ignorant oblivion.
On a similar note ...
#5. V in V for Vendetta Fights Brainwashing With Brainwashing
What He's All About:
V is a former government test subject who gained super strength and a bizarrely self-indulgent cadence as the result of a top-secret experiment gone horribly wrong. After suffering years of brutal mental and physical torture meant to conform him to the fascist Norsefire Party (led by a stylishly dystopian John Hurt), V returns to destroy the evil that created him and free England from their oppressive regime.
There's something about fascism that draws in the best designers.
In order to enlist Evey (Natalie Portman) to his cause, V traps her in a room and subjects her to the exact same torture he went through so that she might understand how terrible the Norsefire Party is for herself. That's right -- the renegade freedom fighter determined to topple a vile totalitarian government that uses fear and brutality to brainwash its followers is using fear and brutality to brainwash his followers. So ... what's his justification there? That harsh brutality is excusable when done in the service of a greater good?
"It's integral to the cause that no one have better hair than me."
Because, you know, that's the exact reasoning Norsefire uses as justification for subjugating all of England. Both V and Norsefire use the same methods to create acolytes for their cause -- the only difference is that V is slightly better at it.
We understand that Norsefire is the worst thing to happen to England since Robbie Williams, and that it must be brought down in order for people to be free of the chains of oppression that dictate their thoughts and actions. However, it takes time to change people's minds and win support for your cause -- Gandhi didn't get the British out of India in a year, but that's the ultimatum V has given the citizenry of England: join him before he blows up Parliament. If the only way you can successfully re-educate people is through force, applied via kidnapping and torture, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate your priorities. Oh, and you're probably also the bad guy.
Just in case nothing about his appearance suggested as much.
#4. The Hero in How to Train Your Dragon Says Not to Kill Dragons, Kills the Dragon King
What He's All About:
How to Train Your Dragon tells the story of the Viking village of Berk, whose inhabitants are constantly at war with the dragons who swoop in and destroy their shit and eat their livestock. But the hero of the movie, Hiccup, is a nerdy kid who manages to trap a dragon and tame it. The dragon even lets him ride it around, and the rest of the movie is about Hiccup and his pet dragon trying to convince the rest of the village that humans and dragons don't need to be at war. Dragons are people too!
"Who are they to judge me? They name their kids after bodily functions ... no offense."
So how does Hiccup and his pet dragon eventually get this point across? By heroically murdering another dragon.
At the end of the film, a hulking superdragon called the Red Death emerges to lay waste to everything in its path. And Hiccup, after spending the entire movie lecturing his Viking brethren about nonviolence and the benefits of working with dragons instead of cleaving them out of the sky, perforates the Red Death's wings and sends it rocketing to the Earth in a five-megaton dragonflesh explosion:
We gave you at least four free metal band names in the previous paragraph. You're welcome.
Granted, maybe taming that one wouldn't be quite as easy as scratching it behind the ears (which is how Hiccup got the last one to submit), but Hiccup makes absolutely no attempt to communicate with the Red Death in any way. In fact, he leads an army of dragons into battle to destroy it. Rather than implement any part of the stubbornly nonviolent mantra he spent the previous 90 minutes advocating, Hiccup wads all of his followers into a ball of howling righteous murder and flings it into the dragon's face.
Remember, training dragons is the whole point of the movie. It's right there in the title. Everything Hiccup does is in service to the idea that any fight can be resolved with patience and understanding, except for the one time he is forced to deal with one of the creatures maligned by the prejudices of his people. And what does he do? He immediately decides to rip it free from this plane of existence while accompanied by a triumphant orchestral score.
The moral? Nonviolence and understanding are great, as long as it's not difficult or dangerous at all.