Do action heroes have parents?
A funny thing happens when you are writing scenes for your characters; they appear as though born into the world as adults. They are surrounded by fellow-agents or cops, colleagues, the boss, lovers and enemies, but we don’t often mention their parents.
Is it because they are too tough to call home to say ‘hi’ to mum or when they are injured, we don’t want to see dad or mum rushing to hold their hand at the hospital? Too real world for our heroes?
Does Jack Reacher have parents? In Die Hard, not one call was made to NYC cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) from his parents to say they were worried about him! Who spawned Bond, James Bond? I can’t remember Ripley in Alien ringing home before she took on the alien, just to let her folks know where her Will was kept (mind you there was that alien who was happy to call Ripley ‘mum’). And you can imagine Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) getting a call from his mum telling him to slow down in The Fast and Furious.
There are other exceptions of course. My protagonist Mitchell Parker (Mastermind, Graveyard of the Atlantic, The Fourth Reich) is scarred by an abusive father which makes him non-trusting, but is supported by a step-father who got him into the crime-fighting game.
We met Indiana Jones’s father (how great was Sean Connery in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade?) and in the comic world there are a few parents drifting around—we know about Superman’s parents and Batman’s folks were murdered, allegedly; the trauma propelling their son into a life of superhero martyrdom.
If we believe the premise attributed to St. Francis Xavier, “give me the child until he is seven and I’ll give you the man”, then you have to wonder what kind of childhood our action heroes and protagonists had! Just a thought …