Five iconic fathers in film history
Whether they are fighting off cannibalistic monsters or dishing out priceless advice, these fathers make up some of the most unforgettable fictional movie characters.
With Father’s Day approaching, we thought it’d be apt to celebrate some of the on-screen patriarchs who have left an indelible impression on the history of cinema (and on their children) over the years.
Keeping that in mind, here’s a look at five iconic fathers in film history:
1. Seok-Woo (Train to Busan)
Played by The Silent Sea’s Gong Yoo, Seok-Woo is a selfish fund manager who believes that one should only look out for himself in a dog-eat-dog world — a lesson which he tries to engrain in his daughter, Soo-an.
As flesh-eating zombies overrun the country and the nation descends into chaos, Seok-Woo is forced to rethink his values in order to protect Soo-an.
As the film progresses, he gets separated from Soo-an and his parental prowess is put on full display as he has to fight through hordes of zombies to reach his daughter.
In the end, Seok-woo sacrifices himself to fend off a stray zombie, saving Soo-an and a fellow survivor who is pregnant, rounding off his arc as a fearless father and a compassionate human being.
2. Marlin (Finding Nemo)
Yes, we are including a clownfish in our line-up of iconic fathers in cinema, and with good reason.
Marlin is by no means a perfect parent — he is obstinate, controlling and overprotective, which is understandable since his entire family (except Nemo) was murdered by a barracuda.
Yet, it quickly becomes apparent that he has Nemo’s best interests at heart and only wishes for him to be safe. It is this immense care for his son which carries him into shark infested waters, jellyfish blooms and through the jaws of a ravenous anglerfish after Nemo gets captured by a scuba diver.
Marlin’s unprecedented voyage into the unknown to rescue his son despite his reservations and fear warrants admiration and undoubtedly earns him a place on this list.
As a bonus, he does eventually lose his neurotic tendencies and becomes a dad who is confident in his son’s capabilities.
3. Mufasa (The Lion King)
Mufasa is the quintessence of a virtuous and lionhearted king, but more than that, he is a doting father who is able to competently navigate the hardships of parenthood.
He teaches Simba a multitude of invaluable life lessons — many of which are underscored throughout the film as Simba embarks on his own journey to emulate his father’s wisdom and courage.
While Mufasa is killed in the first act, he has been immortalised in the fabric of cinema through his evocative quotes like “Being brave doesn’t mean that you go looking for trouble” and “You are more than what you have become”.
4. Alfred Pennyworth (The Dark Knight Trilogy)
Regarding a family butler as a father may be a slightly unconventional take and yet, it is a hill which millions of fans are willing to die on.
Despite not being Bruce Wayne’s biological dad, Alfred Pennyworth should be lauded for stepping up to the paternal role with conviction and determination.
While innumerable actors have played the live-action version of Alfred, it is Michael Caine’s bravura portrayal of the sarcastic butler in The Dark Knight trilogy which takes the cake for us.
From consoling Bruce after his parents were killed to saving the Caped Crusader’s life during a fire, Alfred’s role as his guardian should not be understated.
Ultimately, what makes Alfred such an excellent parental figure is his boundless devotion to Bruce and his no-holds-barred approach when calling him out for his mistakes.
5. Francis (My Magic)
As the only local feature on this list, My Magic tells the story of Francis — a down and out former magician who has to take care of his 10-year-old son single-handedly after his wife left.
Francis struggles to make ends meet as a cleaner in a nightclub and to make matters worse, he is an alcoholic, leading to a strained relationship between him and his son.
When an opportunity presents itself for him to earn some money, Francis takes it up hoping to provide for his son. Things take a twisted turn as Francis finds himself performing dangerous acts such as piercing his tongue and chewing glass to earn his keep.
Nevertheless, he pushes on for the sake of his son and eventually wins back his love and respect.
The film is a poignant reflection of how far a parent is willing to go for his child and Francis’s harrowing road to redemption makes him a memorable addition to our list.