Hotshot (stock character)
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A hotshot or hot-shot, also known as a badass or bad-ass, is a stock character featured in works of fiction that's known for initiating more actions, taking more risks, and suffering more pain than the other characters in the story. This type of character is usually present in action-driven tales and takes either a core protagonist or co-protagonist role, though many exceptions exist. What differentiates the badass and hotshot archetypes from the generalized concept of an action hero is that he or she generally works within the context of a group or team and features traits that are contrasted with other allies that act differently. He or she is also not always the leader of the team. In some sense, the terms can be applied to an "action-byronic hero" with a "loose cannon" or vice-driven nature.
Analysis and details
A hot-shot character can exist in a partnership or team where they play off other individuals, such as comic relief and love interest characters. A character and his or her love interest may both display traits considered bad-ass in the same media, such as Dante and Trish in the Devil May Cry video game franchise. Frequent characteristics of the hotshot character include some level of hubris, abrasive manners, aggressiveness, and a tendency to prefer to be alone even to the point of working alone. The latter trait may put the character at odds with a group, becoming a personality flaw.
The character of Jack Reacher, devised by author Lee Child for a series of novels, provides a particular example. Film critic John Serba has described the "hotshot" individual as "a loner, a mysterious drifter who lives off the grid, a former... military policeman, an expert marksman and hand-to-hand combatant, [and] a man of murky morality". Serba also has written that Reacher winds up "always a step ahead of everyone else" due to "powers of deduction, observation and foresight" that match "uncanny" abilities "with a righteous sense of justice." A film production with Reacher played by Tom Cruise came out in 2012.
Sometimes, not just an individual but a whole group can receive the label. For instance, critic Richard Roeper has stated about the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) in the Mission Impossible movie franchise that the group's "hotshot rogue types who don’t follow protocol" make superiors "refuse to listen to logic and disregard the facts because they don’t care for" that attitude. Describing protagonist Ethan Hunt, also played by Tom Cruise, Roeper noted the character's abilities to outlast, outwit, and outgun multiple assailants as well as show a mischievous personality, engaging in witty banter with adversaries.
Over multiple films, a hot-shot character may display a growing hesitance to act as they once did. For example, actor Mel Gibson, who performed as the cop Martin Riggs in the Lethal Weapon film series, stated with reference to Lethal Weapon 4 that the character notably was slowing down as he got older.
A precursor to the contemporary definition of the hotshot is the figure known as the Byronic hero, those being heavily influenced by the Romanticism movement. Such heroes are a particular kind of anti-hero, the namesake attributed to famous writer Lord Byron, and they're defined by rebelliousness, a sense of dark mystery about them, and a devil-may-care personality type. The intrigue behind these heroes have often attracted readers as a source of psychological fascination. The resulting body of literature featuring Byronic heroes provided the framework for the more fully defined hotshot stock character found in contemporary culture, society evolving over the many decades. Born George Gordon Byron on 22 January 1788, the man himself is regarded as one of the most seminal figures in the history of British writing, his use of the English language in his works inspiring a great many.
In the modern age of film and literature, the hotshot archetype has become better-defined, and hence, more easily and intentionally embodied. One of the earliest contemporary examples of someone deliberately cultivating that image is the work of Rudy Ray Moore, a former r&b artist, who developed a persona known as Dolemite first appearing in recorded media with 1970's Eat Out More Often. The strident, boasting figure quickly became synonymous with Moore, and his profanity-laden style influenced so many that he became called the "Godfather of Rap". Professor Bruce Jackson wrote in a 1974 evaluation of African-American oral traditions that Dolemite functioned as "the ultimate badass" as he suffered none of the "limited perspective" or "inarticulateness" of similar characters. A typical bragging remark from one of Moore's many stand-up routines is: "First thing Dolomite encountered was two big Rocky Mountains. He said, 'Mountains, what y'all gonna do?' They said, 'We gonna part, Mr. Dolemite, and let your badass through'."
- Captain Apollo, Lieutenant Boomer, and Lieutenant Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica
- Dante and Trish in the Devil May Cry video game franchise
- Dolemite in the film of the same name and its sequel
- Ethan Hunt in the Mission Impossible franchise
- Jack Bauer in 24 related media
- Jack Reacher in the film named after the character
- John McClane in the Die Hard film series
- Martin Riggs in the Lethal Weapon film series
- Rey and Poe Dameron in the sequel trilogy of Star Wars
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