Like I’ve said before, I don’t put the ‘Mormon’ in The Geeky Mormon very much, but last week in one of my Sunday meetings we had a discussion on people in the scriptures who play supporting roles. The message was that the part that every person plays in God’s plan is important, even if compared to others’ parts it appears minor. I went home and thought about characters from my favorite books, movies and TV shows that play important supporting roles and, perhaps, deserve a little more credit than they normally get. If most of these heroes have been recognized by their fandoms, then they are worth mentioning again. The characters that speak to our hearts, no matter how big or small a role they play, are the ones who make a difference.
The Howling Commandos, Captain America, The First Avenger
“You know what, Fritz? One of these days I’m gonna have a stick of my own.”
Captain America wouldn’t have gotten very far in the war against Hydra without the Howling Commandos. Timothy “Dum-dum” Dugan, Jim Morita, Gabe Jones, James “Monty” Falsworth, and Jacques “Frenchie” Dernier had the loyalty to follow their leader and work with him, but each brought a tough attitude and sense of humor to the team. When Steve went to rescue Bucky in The First Avenger, Steve got them out of their prison cells and told them to escape, and Dum-Dum gave Steve the heads up on where Bucky was being kept. Whatever doubts they had about the weirdo with the shield, they took his orders to blow up their captors to heart. After their rescue, it didn’t take Steve much convincing to get them to help him destroy the rest of Hydra. He recognized that they had the skills and the courage to continue the fight with him. While Steve and Bucky went to the back of the train, the other guys went to the front to capture Doctor Zola. They came to break into Hydra’s final base from the outside before the Red Skull could vaporize Steve. And their toast to Cap at the end of the movie is gut-wrenching. They are all on the mural with Cap at the museum exhibit in The Winter Soldier. Trust me, working with the Avengers was not as much fun for Steve.
“I see an engaging young woman, who on a number of occasions has proven herself equal to any royal in the world.”
With Anastasia set for a rebirth on Broadway next year, it is worth mentioning a supporting character from the animated classic. Vladimir is Dmitri’s business partner in his scheme to find a false Anastasia, but you get the feeling that Vladimir has also been a friend and perhaps mentor to the young con artist. And although Anya is part of the con, Vladimir also takes her under his wing and encourages her on her journey. His reaction when Dmitri tells her that Anya actually is the long-lost princess is touching and sincere. And he encourages Dmitri to pursue his love interest, which in the end is what Anya and Dmitri both truly wanted. Vladimir reveals in confidence that he was once part of the Imperial Court—did he recognize Anya as the true princess? What’s his backstory? Maybe in the Broadway musical we will learn more.
Mace Windu, Star Wars
“This party’s over.”
Mace doesn’t do more in The Phantom Menace than sit on a chair and talk to the rest of the Jedi Council. However, in Attack of the Clones he gets that lightsaber out and he means business. Then he gets his real moment of glory in Revenge of the Sith when he battles Palpatine. The three other Jedi masters he had brought with him were felled within seconds, but Windu had his combat skills honed to the point that he almost took out a Sith lord. Almost. Think about that for a minute.
Doctor Nefario, Despicable Me
“Nobody messes with my family.”
Doctor Nefario might actually be the real power behind Gru’s schemes of villainy in the Despicable Me franchise, but he is also the one who makes a difference when Gru needs to save the day. In the first film, Nefario tries to keep Gru on task for his goal of stealing the Moon, which although it leads him to send Margo, Edith and Agnes back to the orphanage, his intentions do him credit. Then at the climax, Nefario appears with the Minions to help Gru rescue the girls from Vector. In Despicable Me 2, Nefario feels like he needs to go work for a more credible villain and leaves Gru to work for El Macho. However, it is Nefario who makes the call to Gru when El Macho kidnaps Lucy Wilde. And then he comes up with a formula to rescue the Minions. Doctor Nefario may be in the business of evil, but his loyalty to Gru pays off for good.
Commander Nebula, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command
“Well, what are you waiting for? You want me to serve you milk and cookies? NOW MOVE OUT!”
Commander Nebula is one of my favorite supporting characters in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. He acts as a tough parental figure to Buzz and Team Lightyear, but in reality he wants what is best for his rangers. Commander Nebula may have one leg but he is handy in a fight, seeing as how that peg-leg of his is a concealed plasma cannon. And let’s not forget that he passed the persona of bounty hunter Shiv Katall to Buzz.
Reference: BLoSC Wiki
Arthur Weasley, Harry Potter
“You’re talking the man who raised Fred and George.”
Arthur Weasley is often underestimated by his wizarding peers because of his interest in Muggles, and snobs like the Malfoys don’t bother to hide contempt for him. His office at the Ministry of Magic is pretty much a closet, and he doesn’t have a huge income. But a lot of people in real life and in the Wizarding World forget that he not only is fascinated by Muggles but he has a genuine interest in protecting them, including from Fred and George’s antics. Arthur took one for the team in Order of the Phoenix when he was attacked by Nagini, but he handled his injury and his stay at St. Mungo’s with good humor. First and foremost, Arthur Weasley is a dedicated husband and father. When Ron made Harry a part of his family, Arthur welcomed him with open arms and looked after him with equal fatherly affection. While most of Harry’s other father figures came and went, Arthur Weasley was a constant in his life.
Owen and Beru Lars, Star Wars
“Luke’s just not a farm boy. He’s got too much of his father in him.”
Owen gets a bad rap for wanting young Luke Skywalker to stay on the farm and not telling him anything about his father. But Owen was actually a really great guy for raising Luke in the first place. And Beru is a lot more patient with Luke when he’s older than Owen, so she’s great no matter what, even if you don’t like her denim. But even if Luke didn’t turn out to be a farmer, he got his good values from the aunt and uncle who raised him. Nurturing matters just as much in the case of Luke Skywalker’s upbringing as nature. And I 100% hate jokes about how they died.
Also, personal note: the actress who plays young Beru in the Prequels doesn’t get a lot of screentime but she is so sweet, especially with Baby Luke. I mean:
Also, if you like fan art, here’s a set of sketches of Owen and Beru with young Luke: Jedi In Jeans Tumblr
“You should know, this is the strangest thing I have ever done!”—Flynn Rider
It’s pretty much because of Maximus that anything happens in Tangled. Maximus’ chase after Flynn Rider gets Flynn to run to Rapunzel’s tower. Gothel bumps into him in the forest and that leads her to find out that Rapunzel left the tower. And his dogged pursuit of Ryder leads the Royal Guard from the Snuggly Duckling to the old dam to intercept Flynn and Rapunzel. This being an animated film, the horse’s heroic antics are put to full effect, pushing aside the guards to show them the secret door, fighting Flynn with a sword in his mouth while Flynn uses a frying pan, and keeping up a very intense rivalry with Rider.
But Maximus’ most important role is seriously underappreciated. When Flynn is imprisoned, Maximus goes to the Snuggly Duckling to gather up the thugs. Then he gets the thugs to help Flynn escape and get him back to Rapunzel as quickly as possible. Maximus, a law-upholding enforcement steed went to break a criminal out of prison with a bunch of thugs. The thugs came out of love for Rapunzel in the first place, but it was Maximus who made them aware of her and Flynn’s need. Rapunzel’s final rescue could not have been possible without the heroism of this horse.
Fatty Bolger, The Lord of the Rings
‘“On the whole I would rather have our job than Fatty’s—waiting here till Black Riders come.”—Pippin
Fredegar “Fatty” Bolger never makes it in the movies except for a couple of brief moments in the extended editions (but even those appearances aren’t confirmed—the picture is just one that someone thinks is him). In the books, however, Fatty Bolger is the real MVP. Merry, Pippin, and Sam figured out that Frodo was trying to leave and took Fatty into their confidence. Fatty helped Frodo to move to a house in Crickhollow that he would promptly abandon, and he was charged to keep up the ruse that Frodo was still living there. Thus, Fatty was instrumental in getting the four out of the Shire and on their way to Bree. The Nine Riders did reach the Crickhollow house eventually. Fatty escaped to raise the alarm, and the Riders left as soon as they knew the hobbits were alerted to their presence. When Saruman and his henchmen took over the Shire, Fatty was imprisoned, and he was one of the first to be liberated after Saruman’s final defeat. Fatty Bolger is proof that hobbits do not have to leave the Shire to show their courage.
Maria Hill, Marvel Cinematic Universe
“That thing was squeezing my brain!”
This woman has neither enough screen time nor enough love. When we are introduced to Maria Hill in The Avengers, she is a hard-working and hard-fighting hero with the wits to match with Tony Stark and the wisdom to call out Nick Fury. It’s easy to forget her car chase with Loki in the opening scene, but it still happened. Then in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Hill practically saves the day, helping Fury fake his death and find a place to hide and then pulling off a smooth and sassy rescue for Steve, Sam, and Natasha. It was nice to see her party with the gang in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Seriously, what was this woman up to during Civil War? Maria doesn’t draw a lot of attention to herself, but that can prove to be useful when you are trying to do something important.
Jill Pole, The Chronicles of Narnia
“Jill, you are the bravest and most wood-wise of all my subjects, but also the most malapert and disobedient.”—Tirian
Eustace Scrubb brings Jill with him to Narnia in The Silver Chair and The Last Battle, so she was there for two very crucial episodes in Narnia’s history. Jill isn’t a perfect character—she argues with Eustace and Puddleglum, she gets whiney on the way to Harfang—but she is also sensitive and caring. Aslan entrusts her with the Signs to help her and her friends find Prince Rilian. At Harfang, she plays the part of the spoiled child to perfection to win the affections of the giants. And she rescues Puzzle the donkey from the stable and makes sure the rest of her team knows that he is a victim of the Ape’s deception. The Pevensie sisters Susan and Lucy get a lot of time in the spotlight in Narnia fandom, but Jill’s courage and fortitude deserve recognition.