Kevin Costner: The Reluctant Hero Role

If we were to give Kevin Costner’s characters an overall alignment it would likely be neutral in some way, and would often lean more toward neutral good rather than evil, though if anyone can remember the movie Mr. Brooks, they might realize that Costner can branch out from time to time. But there is a definite lean toward neutrality in a lot of Costner’s roles since he’s been seen to be the loner a lot of the time, as a number of his more noticeable movies tend to show him on his own, more or less, while he tries to navigate his way through the world. Plus, he’s not afraid to take on roles in dystopian worlds in which humanity has all but destroyed itself, or been destroyed by other forces. Granted, some of his best work is usually that which is performed with other actors for the majority of the movie, but it’s still appealing to see him acting out the part of a wandering individual that doesn’t really connect with a lot of people in the movie, unless he happens to need something. 

Movies such as The Postman, Waterworld, and even Bull Durham are good examples of this. Even Mr. Brooks isn’t too bad of an example since despite being around people in the latter movie, Costner’s character is set apart from them by his need to kill and his discussions with Marshall, the unseen character played by William Hurt that is, in a sense, the voice of Mr. Brooks’ addiction. But Costner’s prominent need to play the reluctant hero has been well documented since in The Postman he’s a survivor of the nuclear holocaust that wiped out a good part of humanity when the world turned on itself, but he keeps himself well removed from any one place or group of people. As what could only be called a wandering minstrel, he keeps the art of acting alive, or tries to, while giving people hope in order to keep his stomach filled. It’s kind of a dubious way to live, but in the end that small spark of hope he ignites in people ends up becoming the flame that’s fanned into an entirely new way of life. 

Waterworld is an even greater look at the loner lifestyle since the Mariner is an individual that only trades with others he finds in order to get needed supplies and new oddities that he might make use of. His reason for staying away from people however is far more telling since he’s not entirely human and as such is considered a less than desirable character to have around. This character can’t even be called a hero until later in the movie when it comes obvious that he’s doing something that makes no logical sense but is still something that many people would gladly do when he goes after the young girl Enola, who’s been kidnapped by the big bad of the movie, the Deacon. In short, the Mariner isn’t a villain, but he’s not really a pleasant person until a young child shows him that teaching and caring for another person is worth the effort, and that it can change how one looks at life in a very big way. 

Bull Durham is a little different since it depicts a man that’s been there, done that, and has been broken down by life in a way that no one wishes for, but many find is inevitable when one starts to get older. When Crash Davis comes to the Durham Bulls he’s simply a man following the chance to play ball and get paid to do it, but he’s also being brought in as a seasoned veteran that can teach an up and coming hothead, played by Tim Robbins, how to slow down and play the game of baseball with efficiency as well as the type of respect that the game deserves. Crash isn’t the typical loner, as he does get along with people more often than not, but he’s also not someone that really seeks to fit in with anyone unless it’s worth his time. He’s almost a character to be pitied at times since he has the unenviable ask of dealing with a young pitcher that has no clue what the game is all about, but at other times it’s easy to think that he’s just fine since he has a lot of things in life figured out. 

There’s no doubt that Costner has taken on many impressive and intriguing roles throughout his long career, but some of the best and most noticeable have shown him keeping other people at arm’s length or greater, and have shown that he’s the type that will gladly maintain his distance in order to remain comfortable. It’s a definite style that’s easy for a lot of actors to slip into, but sometimes one has to wonder if it’s the best way to go for a role. 


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