Movies and TV
Kirk, Solo, Shepard - Who Is The Best Space Hero?

Marshall Lemon | 18 Mar 2015 12:00
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Commander Shepard

Savior of the galaxy? Lover of alien species? Scourge of no fewer than three hostile armadas? Video game character or not, there's a reason Commander Shepard's exploits are prime space hero material. The fates of entire races - the whole galaxy in fact - changes simply by Shepard showing up, making a decision, then returning back to the Normandy with a stoic "I should go."

Shepard isn't just a remarkably capable combatant and leader - prime material for being a space hero - but also embodies three of the Space Hero's Guide's tragic origin stories simultaneously. That's not to say Shepard didn't have flaws - the Commander was bizarrely extreme, switching schizophrenically from diplomatic calm to journalist-punching anger from moment to moment. But the Normandy Commander remains so compelling that even death - and a controversially tragic ending - can't stop his legend.

Commander "FemShep" Shepard

Same as above, but better. I mean, any old Shepard can take down the Geth, Collectors, and Reapers. But building enough of a fan base to alter a game industry marketing campaign? Now that's hard.

Han Solo

As the prime example of a "Bastard Antihero," it's no wonder Han Solo is among the most beloved sci-fi characters of all time. A rogue with a heart of gold, you can't deny that he's one of the good guys - an important characteristic for any space hero. But since he's also capable of shooting down armed thugs, opportunistic bounty hunters, and entire Stormtrooper squads, we can revel in how awesomely badass he is too. And Solo knows it as well, breaking his roguishly icy exterior as often as he messes up his ravishing hair. Which is to say, never.

Solo is so charming and capable that even his failures (jettisoning lucrative cargo and getting captured by Vader) inevitably become part of his mythology. But he still can't recover from failure nearly as smoothly as...

Captain James T. Kirk

Space hero greatness, refined to perfection and topped off with the ideal haircut ("The Tiberius.") Few personalities ever achieved success in every aspect of a space hero's career, but Captain James T. Kirk did so - usually while cheating, but so gracefully he was commended afterwards. Whether leading tactical ship operations from the captain's chair, having hand-to-hand brawls during away missions, or (briefly) commanding the fleet as Admiral, Kirk succeeds at every mission he puts his mind to.

Go ahead and pit Kirk against any no-win Kobayashi Maru scenario you can think of. It won't matter. Maroon him on a remote icy world of your choosing - in any timeline - he'll find a way back to the action. Turn the crew against him, if you can - all you'll do is prompt awkward apologies at the next officer's meeting. No matter what happens, he still reappears to stop the assassin, blow up the enemy vessel, and earn the love of humanity at the last possible moment.

Although he clearly always goes where someone has gone before, his exploits are so memorable we forgive the detail. And that's why Kirk is the Best Space Hero of any timeline.

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