You know the type: he/she's the one, the only one who can save the universe from impending doom. Sometimes -- okay, almost all of the time -- he/she does do grudgingly, only gradually accepting the responsibility of having the fate of all of mankind rest squarely on his/her capable shoulders. This week in M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender, a boy with super powers discovers that he's a reincarnated savior tasked with stopping the Fire nation from destroying the world. No small feat for a 12-year-old, but hey -- that's how destiny rolls.
Of course, Aang (Noah Ringer) is in good company. Plenty of reluctant heroes have been chosen to be The One in their respective mythologies. Here are seven of my favorites.
1. Neo in The Matrix trilogy
Thomas A. Anderson AKA Neo (Keanu Reeves) is just another unassuming office monkey-programmer when his illicit nighttime career as a computer hacker brings him into contact with a legendary underground figure named Morpheus. One trip down the rabbit hole later, Neo wakes up in the real world, a dystopian wasteland in which humankind is enslaved by ... wait for it ... THE MATRIX. Can Neo download enough martial arts programs and find his inner hero in time to stop the machines from destroying the resistance? Well, of course he can. He's The One!
2. John Connor in The Terminator series
Technically, John Connor creates his own destiny when, as a freedom fighter in the future war against the machines, he sends right-hand man Kyle Reese back to 1984 to protect (and get it on with) his mother, Sarah, thus ensuring his own survival and conception. That move indirectly creates his future reputation as the Chosen One -- or maybe he was the Chosen One all along. Terminator time travel logic always confuses me. Damn causality loops.
3. Buffy Summers in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Blonde Valley girl Buffy Summers (Kristy Swanson) just wants to hang out, shop, and discover how funky her chicken is while shaking her caboose as one of Hemery High's most popular cheerleaders when Donald Sutherland skulks into her life to train her to kill bloodsuckers. The life of a Slayer is death to one's social life, but it has its perks, too -- like super strength and agility, vampire-staking skills, and the love of a dreamy slacker (Luke Perry). Of all the Chosen Ones on this list, Buffy's the only one I ever truly wished I could be (if only for that fab early '90s wardrobe).
4. Chandler Jarrell in The Golden Child
Wise-cracking Eddie Murphy plays wise-cracking Chandler Jarrell, a social worker told one day that he's the Chosen One who must travel halfway around the world to find and protect a magical little Tibetan boy. At first, Chandler is skeptical of the comely but crazy-talking lady informing him of his destiny. But a few mystical incidents later, Chandler is on his way to defeating an age-old demon in the guide of a goateed redhead, for the greater good, AND for love!
5. Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Nine-year-old cutie pie Anakin Skywalker is but a wee slave boy fixing 'bots on Tatooine when he's discovered by the Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn, who believes him to be the Chosen One of prophesy. Is Anakin the Jesus of Star Wars? (Mama Shmi claims a virgin birth.) Why does he have so many midi-chloridians? Will his pod-racing skills come in handy some day? Why, with that angelic face, we bet little Anakin'll grow up to be the nicest, most benevolent Jedi ever! The prophecy says he'll bring balance to the universe, and that can't be a bad thing. Go him!
6. Bastian Bux in The NeverEnding Story
The magic of The NeverEnding Story is that any child with creativity can utter the words that save the land of Fantasia from The Nothing. In the 1984 film of the same name, Barret Oliver is Bastian, the timid, bullied, and ignored young boy who holes up one stormy evening to read a book and finds himself both narrator and hero of his own story. Bastian watches along as the book's hero, Atreyu, fights valiantly to save the world, but in the end only Bastian can stop The Nothing from consuming all of Fantasia -- that is, once he musters the courage to accept his destiny.
7. Harry Potter in the Harry Potter series
Practically named as the Dark Lord's nemesis by Trelawney's prophecy, Harry Potter's fate has been sealed since birth -- even if Harry never knew it until he enrolled at Hogwart's. Now a nerdy, bespectacled orphan boy, Harry wears his destiny on his forehead: after surviving a deadly attack by the evil wizard Volde- err, He Who Shall Not Be Named, the entire wizarding world can spot Harry by his lightning-shaped scar. Talk about pressure.
Got more favorite Chosen Ones? Leave 'em in a comment below.