10 Science Fiction and Fantasy Examples of Masculinity and Gentlemanly Nature

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One of my never ending quests in life is the pursuit to establish the new norm of gentlemanly society. As men most of us are taught by our fathers to be respectful to others, dress nicely and to treat women like royalty. But how do we define those three important precepts in todays society, wrought with Facebook stalking and Twitter fights. In a world where Justin Bieber is an idol for so many, how can men define what it is to be gentlemanly today? Well, I won’t try to say that I’ve come up with the definitive answer. But I think I have a good start. I like to phrase it thusly: A true man, a true gentleman should be able to hold his own in a fight and in an intelligent argument. Or to put it simply, a gentleman can be you with his fists and with his wits.

Being the nerd that I am, I looked to science fiction and fantasy to help define what I believe a true gentleman should be. And, I found, there is probably no more appropriate place to look. After all the genres of science fiction and fantasy are designed, at their best, to be sieves through which we filter out the unnecessary and look at the problems our society truly faces. In science fiction and fantasy, it isn’t about the aliens or the phasers or the space travel or what not. That is all allegorical. A Dalek isn’t really a Dalek, a Borg isn’t really a Borg and an Orc isn’t really an Orc. These things are looking glasses through which we measure the threats, both internal and external, to our society, our reality.

As such, these men should be thought of outside whatever powers, positions or authorities they might hold. Instead focus on the character. By my estimation, these 10 men should be the shining light men of our age look to for inspiration in the changing days ahead of us.

In no particular order, I present 10 true gentlemen of science fiction and fantasy.

Eddard “Ned” Stark

EddardStark

The landscape of Westeros is unforgiving and harsh, and I don’t mean the scenery. Countless lords and ladies and hedge knights constantly vie for position and power, with allegiances being as sturdy as a matchstick bridge. Smack dab in the middle of all this is our forlorn Ned Stark, a family man, Lord of the city of Winterfell and Warden of the entire northern section of Westeros. With his families dire wolves and dire warnings, Ned looks to the North in anticipation of the long winter to come.

Regardless of if he’s dealing with deserters or dessert-eaters, Ned Stark has the same, even application of thought and reasoning. In his mind, it’s simple: if you make an oath, keep it. If you say you are going to do something, do it. If you have a responsibility, see to it. But despite that, even in the twisting, turning halls of King’s Landing, Ned still keeps his sense of direction (metaphorically speaking of course) and comes out on top…almost.

Can he beat you with his fists?

nedstarkfighting

                You better believe it. Ned Stark is a hard trained swordsman who fought in the war for his best friends claim of the throne of Westeros. He holds his own in a fight against Jamie Lannister, a Kingsguard (like the Secret Service for the King of Westeros) and a man who many claim to be the best swordsmen in the land.

Can he beat you with his wits?

ned-stark-game-of-thrones

Yes, to a fault. Fiercely loyal to his friend and King, a devoted family man and a true man of his word, Ned sticks by his guns even knowing the possible outcomes. His best merits and wits are shown with his children and his even, well tempered handling of their precocious predicaments.

Intangibles?

                As all gentlemen should be, Ned Stark is a man of his word. Even acting as the Kings right hand man and having to manipulate others to try and get desired results, Ned maintains a true course, trying to do what is right for all involved. When it is mentioned that a certain blond usurper is rising in the nearby Esteros, Ned is the first to strike down the possibility of assassinating her, flagrantly pointing out to these war heroes that their target is but a 14 year old girl. Uncompromising, devoted and tough. Truly a man’s man.

Alfred Pennyworth

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Gotham city, a city that it would seem is shrouded in perennial darkness. Crime, lunacy and corruption are rampant throughout its streets and it would seem no one is there to take a stand. That is until Bruce Wayne arrives and takes the mantle of Batman. So why isn’t it Bruce Wayne in this spot? Despite being a truly good person, Bruce Wayne relies on deception and manipulation to be able to pursue his goals. Many times his temper will get the better of him, and his penchant for taking young boys under his wing leads him to many tight spots.

That’s where Alfred Pennyworth comes in. In some depictions he is a mild mannered, humorous side-kick. In others he is Bruce equal and right hand man, strong enough to face the terrors of the city while still remaining poised and composed. To me, Alfred Pennyworth, until very recently, was one of the most under-appreciated characters in all of fiction. Having been butler to Bruce’s father, he stays on when Bruce tells him he’s going to dress up like a bat and fight crime. That’s devotion right there. If you really want a depiction of Alfred as this writer things he truly should be, there’s two places to find it. Geoff Johns brilliant Batman: Earth One and Sean Pertwee’s amazing portrayal of him on “Gotham” on Fox.

Can he beat you with his fists?

alfred fighting

It really depends on the depiction of him, but at the very least it is widely agreed that in his day Alfred was a sturdy man who could easily hold his own in a fist fight. More recent depiction of him highlight a military background that was hinted at earlier, and in one episode of “Gotham”, it was Alfred who took it to several bad guys.

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Can he beat you with his wits?

Absolutely. This was the first man to truly understand the Joker’s motives. This is the man who is able to talk to Batman and put him in his place. When Bruce Wayne gets too emotional, Alfred is the one who talks him back to a point of rationality.

Intangibles

Intelligence and adaptability. Other than a few depictions, Alfred did not take the job of Butler thinking he was going to have to play HQ for a lunatic in a bat suit. But once the idea was brought to him, he quickly accepted it, wrapped his mind around it and became an essential part to Batman’s operations. His knowledge of the technology used by Batman is second only to the Dark Knight himself, and this is from a man is at least in his late 50’s.

Jean-Luc Picard

Jean Luc

I think if we were to send a satellite out to a world we knew to have aliens on it, and we had to pick one person to be the face, voice and characterization of humanity, then you couldn’t make a better choice than Sir Patrick Stewart. The man is class and elegance personified. Translated into the Gene Roddenberry’s vision of Star Trek, this meant a captain who was able to delicately balance the spears of three different governments while hardly ever having to resort to violence.

Nothing about Captain Picard’s physicality would suggest that he would be an effective battlefield commander. He’s 5’10”, very slight and lean, bald and soft spoken in normal conversation. But yet this little guy, the little captain as I like to call him, was an honored delegate to the Klingon High Council, a race of big, tough warriors. At the same time, the wry and cunning Romulans held him in very high regard. And if nothing else convinces you, he was the man, the voice, that the Borg chose to warn humanity of impending doom. And he’s French! (Supposedly)

He never punched Q, though.
He never punched Q, though.

Can he beat you in a fist fight?

Most people would jump to the conclusion that Picard was too soft to ever truly be a worthy combatant. And while it is true that he is no Kirk, he is not to be discounted either. It’s made clear in a few episodes that in his younger years he was known as being wild and wooly. He nearly died in bar fight! And while he may lack Worf’s musculature or Kirk’s willingness, once Picard decides to fight-ring the bell, queue the announcers: there is going to be a fight!

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Can he beat you with his wits?

                Absolutely. It wasn’t that he was always the most intelligent person in the room, it wasn’t that he was always the slyest. It was his control. If you were talking with Picard, you went at his pace because you didn’t dare do otherwise. Not out of fear of reprisal, but out of fear of disrespect. Smart foes knew to give Picard as much respect as they could and those who didn’t learned very quickly.

Intangibles

                Picard is also notable for one aspect of his personality: his ability to command loyalty. When he took on the hot shot Commander William Riker as his First Officer, not only was the larger and louder Riker forced to play second fiddle to Picard, he did so happily. He is one of those leaders, those people, that truly inspires those around him to reach their greatest potential. Of course, not to be forgotten, is his classic elegance and style. Picard commanded his starship like a ballroom dance, with grace, elegance and precision.

Oliver Queen (TV’s “Arrow”)

ollie queen

I’ll admit, Stephen Amell’s portrayal of Oliver Queen in the CW’s “Arrow” is what really sparked me to write this article. So you spent 5 years without a shower on a tropical island fighting obsessive militanants? Does that mean you have to lose your sense of style and elegance? Absolutely not. Amell’s Oliver is the really the one I’m using for this entry, as he is just drenched in classy charm. Sure he lies to his friends and family like his life depends on it, but that’s only because their life literally depends on it.

What’s more, Amell’s Oliver shows us how to be a manly gentlemen even when it seems like you can’t be. No matter if he’s facing men trying to kill him, trying to kill his family or trying to destroy his city, Oliver approaches every situation with a loaded calmness. Every phrase is measured, every word perfectly timed to let you know that he, Oliver Queen, is a man to be feared. He exhibits classic signs of what we call an Alpha: when he walks into a room, he makes and entrance. He takes a moment to let everyone soak him in as well. When he speaks, he controls the pace of the conversation. He never feels desperate or needy, and that makes others look to him for leadership.

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Can he beat you in a fist fight?

Well doiy! Even the people he can’t beat in fist fights he beats in fist fights. I mean, Slade Wilson was amped up on a drug that LITERALLY MADE HIM SUPERHUMAN and Ollie still beat him. Sometimes he isn’t the most skilled fighter in a match-up, but that is exceedingly rare. On most occasions where he is outmatched, it is either due to the opponents slightly superior cunning (Malcolm Merlyn), strength (Slade Wilson) or skill (this seasons Ra’s Al Gul)

ollie and felicity

Can he beat you with his wits?

                9 times out of 10, yes. He was able to predict Slade Wilsons moves very well, which helped him win the day. However a lot of his wits come from his control. He doesn’t easily fall into traps or ethical paradoxes set up for him by would be foes. In fact, many times, it is Ollie himself setting the traps for his villains. We always talk about Batman with prep time, but Ollie with prep time is just as dangerous.

Intangibles

                Vulnerability. Even though Ollie is like to control every situation, sometimes he gets that control by reminding you that he is the most hurt person there. He doesn’t have to cry or bitch or moan about. Oftentimes his actions are saying exactly what he means to say. Oh you lost your mother to cancer? My mother was shot in the head by my ex-best friend in front of my eyes! Oh you and your sister are having a little tussle? My sister might actually be trying to kill me. When that guy is in almost any situation, ya listen to him.

Professor Charles Xavier

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                Again with the Sir Patrick character? Why not! Like I said: Sir Patrick Stewart is a great example of how to be a manly gentleman. But it’s more than just his portrayal of Professor X in the movies, it’s Professor X in general. Professor X fights two enemies- the mutants and super humans who threaten Earth, and the bigotry towards mutants by the very people he’s saving. And he does all this without the use of his legs!

One very interesting anecdote to me is that Professor X was based on Dr. Martin Luther King, a historical example of masculinity if there ever was one. Charles Xavier is a monument to the idea that a man need not be violent in order to get his message across. To quote the Bible and Jules Winfield: “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.” (I’d actually love to hear Sir Patrick read that line). It would be easy for Professor X to make a show of power to get his point across. What does he do instead? He open up a school for dispossessed mutants and regards his greatest opponent as a respected colleague (okay maybe that’s a bit of a stretch)

professor x

                                  Can he beat you in a fist fight?

Not necessarily. Even in his younger years it was never shown that Charles was a sporting individual. No doubt he can throw a mean punch and head butt you like you wouldn’t believe, the lack of legs make his physical fighting just a little less than effective. Regardless, he would still probably win just with his intelligence. He’s the type of fighter that would make you doubt your own ability then bring up memories of your dead mother until your crying like a baby at his feet.

                       Can he beat you with his wits?

                  See above.

                                                        Intangibles

Charles Xavier can see into and through people. It’s useless to try and hide anything from him (unless, for some reason, that’s you’re mutant power). As such he is a man who will not be cheated, lied to or cast aside. Complete honesty is what he expects because, well, he can get it. But what’s more important is that he often doesn’t have to use his powers to get information from people. Whether it’s the threat of him using his powers or just the respect he commands from a lifetime of achievement, people are willing to trust Charles with their innermost insecurities and thoughts. The fact that he doesn’t use that against them is the mark of a true man.

Eric Lehnsher/Max Eisenhardt/Magneto

magneto

Okay, okay, wait here me out- yes…yes he is a “villain”, yes he is Magneto. But he isn’t really a villain in your typical sense, is he? He is a well spoken, classy individual who can win a fight while quoting Shakespeare. And, unlike many other villains, he isn’t necessarily fighting for his own benefit. Sure there is a part of him wanting to avenge his mother, but for the most part he fights for something greater- mutant rights (read: civil rights). Whereas Professor Xavier was based on MLK, Magneto is the mutant image of Malcolm X.

What’s more is he treats his adversaries respectfully, even when fighting them. He never underestimates them, fights (relatively) fairly and has been known to give mercy to valiant combatants. And, as a real man, should, Magneto is prone to realize their error of his ways. In one brilliant storyline, Magneto reforms so much that Xavier names him the new headmaster of his school for mutant children. Not bad for a guy who tried to kill you on several occasions.

Can he beat you in a fist fight?

Absolutely. Even withx-men-first-class-02-645-75out his powers, Magneto is a cold, calculating combatant who possesses remarkable strength of his own. With his powers- forget it. I mean did you see that scene in First Class? Y’know, where he was at that bar in, like, Bolivia or some shit and he pwned those former Nazi’s without even spilling his beer! Jaysus!

Patrick-Stewart-Professor-X-Ian-McKellen-Magneto-X-Men-Chess

Can he beat you with his wits?

Though his intellect is inferior to Xavier’s, it is only slightly so. Magneto can quote Longfellow and Shakespeare with the best of them, all while having intricate knowledge of things like Quantum Mechanics and the Multi-Verse theory.

Intangibles

Ruthlessness. Or to put it another way, an unwavering sense of devotion to his cause. Magneto doesn’t want to see mutants undergo the same oppression he went through in that Nazi concentration camp and he will stop at nothing to ensure that happens.

Spock

spock

Is it logical to include Spock on this list (sorry, I had to)? I mean, he’s not even human; he’s Vulcan. Okay, I’m totally gonna cop to using a loophole here: he’s half Vulcan, half Human. But regardless of his species, he’s character is so manly, so drenched in absolute masculinity that the man who played him became a sex symbol…IN THE 60’S! This was a time when more effeminate rock and rollers with long hair and slim bodies were considered sexy. Here comes Spock, with his deep voice and stern demeanor whose not afraid to slap a girl if she gets out of line and he becomes a sex symbol for it. It just goes to show that no matter what the trend in modern male lifestyle shows, women love a man who takes control- women love a man.

And he isn’t even the star of the series. Now, you may be asking why Spock and not Kirk? Well Kirk is very manly, there’s no doubt about that, but where Spock gets him is in the realm of gentlemanly nature. Kirk is given to succumb to emotions and sins of the flesh. Spock, as a Vulcan has complete mastery of both. Remember, Spock doesn’t lack emotions, he controls them. And it’s this sort of emotional control that everyman should strive to attain.

By the way, Leonard Nimoy’s Spock is the only Spock I’ll ever accept. Don’t get me wrong, Zachary Quinto is a fine actor. But he and anyone else who dares take the name Spock will only be pretenders to Nimoy’s throne.

STAmokTime

Can he beat you in a fist fight?

                Spock, as a Vulcan, has extra-human strength and as such is physically a match for nearly anybody. From his Vulcan ancestry he also maintains a sense of control during physical altercations (again, don’t even mention Into Darkness to me- that’s not my Spock). He is aggressive, yes, but he never succumbs to his aggressions. I mean, he freakin’ beat Kirk* in “Amok Time” and everybody’s always talking about how great of a fighter Kirk is!

spock3dchess

Can he beat you with his wits?

                Not only can Spock out-wit you, he will convince you of the error in your logic. Then he’ll make you feel bad for ever opposing him. Short answer: yes.

Intangibles

                His logic. Spock, like most Vulcans, adheres to the ideals of logic to a fault. When a man doesn’t hesitate to sacrifices his own life to save hundreds of others, only to justify it by saying “The needs of the many out way the needs of the few”, that man has massive cajones.

Obi-Wan Kenobi

obi wan

I have to admit, I struggled with which Star Wars character to include on this list: Obi Wan or Qui Gon. Both are more than suited for it- both are masculine, well spoken, intelligent men. But when it comes down to it, Obi Wan was less given to passion than what we’ve seen of Qui Gon. Obi Wan can drop in on literally an army of his droid enemies and simply say “Why hello there!” with a cheeky smile on his face.

To me- and to many fans- Ewan McGregor’s Obi Wan was literally the only watchable thing about the original trilogy. His amazing character arc from slightly impulsive young padawan to wise and classy Master seemed to make perfect sense given his characterization- all while playing adoptive father/brother/mentor to the man who everyone is saying will bring balance to the force. It’s a big burden to carry and, considering the circumstances of how he came to be Anakin’s mentor, he does about as good a job as any man can do.

Dat beard, tho…

obeard wan
Obeard Wan Kenobi

obi wan fighting

Can he beat you in a fist fight?

                He beat Anakin Skywalker aka Darth Vader. Nuff said.

obi wan thinking

Can he beat you with his wits?

Yes, given the assumption you don’t sabotage him by screwing everything else up around him. Yes, Anakin turned to the dark side. He was also separated from his mother and forced to train as a Jedi by the short-sighted Qui Gon. Then he was told he will never be a Jedi by everyone on the counsel and continuously faced negativity from Mace Windu. Yet through all that, Obi-Wan was his friend and confidant. Fast forward to the good trilogy: Obi-Wan had enough wit and foresight (not to mention courage) to know that his sacrifice would galvanize Luke into doing what he needed to do to restore balance to the force.

Intangibles

                Adaptability. When Obi Wan got into the business of being a Jedi, he probably wasn’t thinking he’d have to train the Chosen One. And not only was he tasked with training the freakin Chosen One, he had to do it after he had barely completed his own training! It’s like asking a kid who graduated from High School last week to tutor a 10 year old- yeah, sure they could do it, but they wouldn’t be particularly good at it. Now, yes, Anakin did wind up turning to the dark side. But not before Obi-Wan had turned him into a force to be reckoned with.

King Arthur

King-Arthur-Excalibur-Movie-Series-Franchise-Warner-Bros.-2014

Really, you can’t have a list about fictional gentlemen without including King Arthur: he was the first. The stories of King Arthur helped define what was chivalry in the middle ages. A peerless leader, dauntless in battle and loyal to a fault, King Arthur is literally the framework by which all other chivalrous gentlemen are measured. Though his veracity as an historical character a debated, no one can argue his weight as a literary character.

And his stories make it quite clear why. From defending the honor of maidens and fighting for the protection of his people to going on epic quests and knowing a strange amount about African and European swallows, Arthur is a knight unequaled and a man unrivaled. Okay, so that bit about the swallows was from Monty Python- but regardless. When your moxie and high mindedness are written about for nearly a millennium- you must have been one hell of a man.

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Can he beat you in a fist fight?

                Not only can Arthur beat you in a fist fight, he can beat you, your pagan god and your abnormally sized cat monster in a fist fight.

connery arthur

Can he beat you with his wits?

                Though he makes no claims to be the smartest man alive, he definitely becomes one of the wisest and that is due in large part to his leadership abilities- Arthur is willing and able to listen to council and logic.

Intangibles

                Legend. From riding down mythical monsters to slaying ravenous Saxon heathens to winning the heart of the loveliest of maidens, the things that Arthur has done throughout his life echo through the centuries.

Ezio Auditore da Firenze

Ezio-Auditore-Da-Firenze

I wanted to put at least one video game character on this list, and there are many that suit the description of many gentlemen. But to me none filled those shoes better than the Italian Assassin we all fell in love with. We love him so much because he captures the essence of what truly defines a man. It is an indescribable thing to me simultaneously in tune with ones primal side and ones cultured side. To be able to go from musing about a work of art to killing a man with your bare hands.

Ezio is that and so much more. In his devotion to his duties he is relentless. With his friends he trusted and relied on, while at the same time not leaning on them too heavily. But it is his romantic relationships that get him a place on this list. He learns very quickly in the first game to never chase women but rather to let the women come to him. He doesn’t view them as trophies or objects but rather as works of arts, but equal to him only in intellect. In Ezio’s world, women still need the men to make the decisions and to get things done. And Ezio is just the man to do it.

ezio fighting

Can he beat you in a fist fight?

Ezio took down the Borgia’s. He regularly bests some of the greatest warriors in his lands. Most importantly, he has trained to fight his entire adult life. Maybe at the beginning of ACII he could be bested, but by the end of Revelations he is one of the most formidable fighters the world has ever known

Yeah, that's Da Vinci Ezio is chillin' with
Yeah, that’s Da Vinci Ezio is chillin’ with

Can he beat you with his wits?

                Yes, but not in the way you think. Ezio beats you with his wits because he keeps them about him so well. Facing off against some truly imposing foes (The Pope, the Ottoman Sultanate), Ezio was quick with a wise word or a joke and would never, ever let on how truly fearful he must have been to the situation.

Intangibles

                How do I put this…Ezio’s way with women. While respecting them, he let them know at the same time that he was the man and what he said went. And it’s not just in his romantic relationships either- dealing with his mother or his sister or some chick he needed to kill his masculinity never gets called into question.

So that’s it. At least for this list. Want to see some other characters make my lists in the future? Did you like my article and want to let me know? Was my article the worst thing you’ve ever read and you feel the need to inform me? Feel free to do all that and more in the comments below!

3 thoughts on “10 Science Fiction and Fantasy Examples of Masculinity and Gentlemanly Nature

  1. Absolutely GREAT stuff! Thought provoking and well written. I agree with the selections, especially captain Picard. All of the selections possess a hard to find combination including (but not limited to) strength of character, intelligence, honor, integrity, physicality as well as guile and cunning.

    Like

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