"Ender's Game" is the latest to put this idea in our heads. The adaptation of Orson Scott Card's 1985 sci-fi novel focuses on a young boy believed to be the best hope in saving the world from aliens. Based on how these sorts of stories go, we can assume he's successful.
The "child hero" concept is ancient, filling literature, particularly in books intended for young readers. And the same is true for family films where kids are depended on to save the day, whether they're trained and equipped for such a mission or accidental leaders, or a "chosen one." Below are a number of examples where underage heroes thwart a great evil that threatens us all.
Gallery | 11 Movies That Prove Kids Will One Day Save Us All
- The ‘Harry Potter’ Franchise (2001 - 2011)
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is the chosen one of the Wizarding World in all eight films based on J.K. Rowling’s uber-popular book series. Potter is tasked with defending his school, Hogwarts, and the rest of wizard-kind from Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). But the Dark Lord’s plan isn't simply about ruling over wizards. He wants to take over the entire world, and in doing so he means to exterminate all human Muggles and half-bloods. Fortunately, by the end of “Deathly Hallows Part 2,” Potter defeats his nemesis with most of the planet’s non-wizard population being unaware of any danger in the first place.
- ‘The Neverending Story’ (1984)
Before starring in “Troll,” Hathaway played the young warrior Atreyu in this film based on Michael Ende’s novel. “The Neverending Story” also deals with two separate worlds, but it’s really only the fantasy realm that’s seen as being in danger. In that world, Fantasia, it is Atreyu’s mission to save everything and everyone from the Nothing. But when he’s unable to finish the job, a boy from the real world named Bastian (Barret Oliver) has to reluctantly take over. Maybe he saves our world, too. If there’s some sort of gateway between dimensions, how do we know the Nothing couldn’t have penetrated it?
- ‘Troll’ (1986)
The barely related sequel tends to get all the cult love, but the original “Troll” is a guilty pleasure all its own. And there’s some odd significance to the fact that it involves a kid hero whose name is Harry Potter (Noah Hathaway). Here, there’s no dark wizard, but there are witches and an evil troll who aims to eliminate the human world by letting a realm of magic and fairies take it over, starting with the kid’s apartment building. Technically, the troll causes his own defeat, but only because Potter’s heroic attempt to save his sister gets the ball rolling.
- The ‘Spy Kids’ Franchise (2001 - 2011)
Over the course of a trilogy of movies, initially amateur heroes Carmen and Juni (Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara) save the world on three separate occasions. In the first, they stop an evil businessman attempting to take over the earth using robot versions of world leaders’ kids. In “Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams,’ the threat is a double agent who wants to conquer the world by shutting down all electrical objects. And in “Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over,” its city-destroying robots unleashed upon the real world from a video-game realm. The fourth film, “Spy Kids: All the Time in the World” passes the torch to new child heroes (Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook) who defeat a master criminal who can control time.
- The ‘Agent Cody Banks’ Movies (2003 - 2004)
Following the release of the first “Spy Kids” movie, the copycat “Agent Cody Banks” arrived with Frankie Muniz as a kind of boy James Bond. In his first adventure, as a secret new addition to the CIA, he thwarts the plans of an evil mastermind who means to take control of the world via nanobots that will destroy defense systems around the globe. In the sequel, “Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London,” the kid spy heads to the UK to stop an evil scientist whose plot involves controlling the minds of all the world’s leaders.
- ‘Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2’ (2004)
Mind control is also the intended means for taking over the world for a villain played by Jon Voight in this “Baby Geniuses” sequel. Not only is he defeated by kids, but the kids in this movie are super-intelligent babies. There is apparently no age requirement at all for saving the human race. Also, we never said these kid-hero movies had to be good.
- ‘Cloak & Dagger’ (1984)
It’s uncertain whether there’s a threat to the whole world in this 1984 spy caper, but there is serious danger to the United States (or some other country) if the bad guys get away with stolen top-secret military information. The files are hidden on a video-game cartridge in the possession of an imaginative young boy (Henry Thomas of “E.T.”), and it’s up to him to play keepaway while being pursued and ultimately kidnapped.
- ‘WarGames’ (1983)
Another movie involving video games and military secrets? What's with the '80s? In this 1983 teen thriller, Matthew Broderick plays a hacker who accidentally manages to nearly start World War III when he plays a military simulation he thinks is just a game, and then that simulation turns into the real deal. It’s a special case in which a kid saves the world from something he caused to happen in the first place. Oops.
- ‘South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut’ (1999)
Another world war can be found in this feature film spun off from the long-running animated series. But, on top of that, Satan ascends from Hell thinking its armageddon time. And on top of that, Satan’s lover, Saddam Hussein, decides he wants to rule the world himself. In the end, the boys from South Park -- Cartman, Kyle, Stan and especially Kenny -- help to change the devil’s mind and end the bloody conflict going on between the U.S. and Canada, turning everything back to normal. Sort of.
- ‘The Powerpuff Girls’ (2002)
In this feature-length origin movie based on the animated series of the same name, we meet the three super-powered little girls: Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup. It’s also the origin of their nemesis Mojo Jojo, an ape who was the girls’ creator before turning evil. The threat increases when Mojo Jojo becomes a giant to increase his chances of succeeding in his plan to rule the world, but the colorful trio overtakes him in a nice homage to “King Kong.”
- ‘Zoom’ (2006)
Kid superheroes have been a staple of comic books for decades, and the “X-Men” movies brought some of the concept to the big screen. This alleged “X-Men” rip-off, though, was more focused on the young and powerful being the ones to save the world from a supervillain. They’re led by an adult (Tim Allen), but he’s lost his superhuman abilities and couldn’t manage without the talents of teens Dylan (Michael Cassidy) and Summer (Kate Mara), 12-year-old Tucker (Spencer Breslin) and 6-year-old Cindy (Ryan Newman).