In honour of father’s day, I thought I’d share a list of my favourite on-screen fathers from some of my favourite movies. I’ve tried to limit my list to biological fathers and not people who are just father-figures. Also the list only includes fathers who spend the majority of the film doing things for children.
#8 George Banks – Father of the Bride (1991)
Father of the Bride tells the classic story of a father (played wonderfully by Steve Martin) who is struggling to let go of his daughter as she plans to get married. Banks has to learn to see his daughter as a woman and realise that just because she’s getting married doesn’t mean she’ll ever stop being his little girl.
#7 Jor-El – Man of Steel (2013)
Now there were a lot of things wrong with Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel but Russel Crowe as Jor-El was definitely not one of them. He sacrifices his life for his son and ensures that he will have the freedom that millions of Kyrptonians never could. He also has some amazing speeches in this movie and provides just the right amounts of guidance to shape mild-mannered Clark Kent into the Earth’s greatest hero.
#6 Darth Vader – Star Wars Original Trilogy
Now I know what you’re going to say, Darth Vader is a horrible person, probably the most evil person in the universe. He tries to kill his children countless times, enslave their friends and also cuts off his son’s hand. But that’s Darth Vader the Sith Lord; let’s talk about Darth Vader the caring father. The minute he finds out Luke is his son, he does everything in his power to find him and even though Luke completely destroys the biggest work project of his dad’s life, Vader still offers him a job. And not just an entry-level job, he offers to let Luke rule the galaxy alongside him – that’s basically vice-president of The Empire. He also saves Luke’s life at the end and kills The Emperor, if that’s not a great dad, I don’t know what is.
#5 John Quincy Archibald – John Q (2002)
If a man does something terrible in the name of protecting his family, is he a bad man? John Q addresses this question. The victim of an inadequate health system that condemns his son to death, John decides to take action. He holds up a hospital with a gun and forces the staff to do the transplant. Now sure, this is more than a little extreme but wouldn’t we all do the same if put in the same position. John is willing to sacrifice everything for his son – his name, his freedom even in his life in the end. It’s a powerful story.
#4 Chris Gardener – The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
The best thing about this movie is that it’s based on a true story. There’s a real Chris Gardener who actually had to go through these struggles and Will Smith does an amazing job bringing this pain and tragedy to the screen. A common theme that all the father’s share on this list is sacrifice. These men are willing to lose everything for the betterment of their children’s lives. Will Smith perfectly portrays the pain and anguish that this character must have felt every day. it’s and incredibly poignant story and one that has me reaching for the tissues every time.
#3 Mufasa – The Lion KIng (1994)
There’s no way I could leave this guy off my list. He is one of the best dad’s out there and, even though he has very little screen time, he’s one of the best things about this movie. He’s caring, loving and willing to do anything to protect his son. He even comes back from beyond the grave to give his son the last piece of guidance he needs to stop being a slacker and get his life in order. Plus his death scene probably still haunts the memories of millions of little children all around the world.
#2 Marlin – Finding Nemo (2003)
Now here’s the daddy of all overprotective dads but you can’t blame him. Marlin loses his wife and about a hundred children in the space of a few minutes. He vows to protect the sole egg that survived the attack and make sure nothing bad ever happens to him. Sure Marlin needs to relax and let Nemo be a kid but a thing that no one ever talks about is how he was right. Nemo does something he’s not supposed to and bad things happen. But instead of gloating about how he was right, Marlin drops everything, confronts all his fears and sets off on a grand journey to find his son. It’s a wonderful adventure.
#1 Bryan Mills – Taken (2009)
Top spot had to go to everybody’s favourite father with a ‘particular set of skills’. Liam Neeson shines in this movie and shows that you’re never too old to punch someone in the throat. Taken tells the story of a former government agent who is trying to establish a relationship with his estranged daughter. When she is kidnapped in Paris while on vacation, Mills sets out on a mission to find her and kill anyone that stands in his path. It’s a great story and one of my all-time favourite movies. The intensity in Neeson’s performance is amazing and he really brings this character to life. Sure there’s awesome action sequences and pieces of dialogue but at the end of the day, this is a story about a man seeking to be a better father to his daughter.