Webster’s Dictionary defines “hero,” as yada, yada, yada. Just kidding. That’s not how we’re going to start this post.
No, we all know what a hero is. But only I know who the best heroes of 2015 (so far) are, and I aim to share them with you now.
10. Caitlyn Jenner: Vanity Fair
OK, this can of worms is open now, but I’m sure we can all agree that coming out to your friends and loved ones is a very brave thing to do. I’m sure a few people will take umbrage with her being on this list, but this is my list and feel free to call the blog police on me if you take issue with it.
9. The Avengers: Avengers: Age of Ultron
Joss Whedon’s greatest talent as a director is juggling a lot of characters, giving each one a chance to shine. That’s particularly impressive given Age of Ultron‘s bloated lineup, making it impossible to pick just one. Every time I tried to name just one hero, I thought of another character moment from someone else, so let’s just nominate the whole lot of them.
8. Amy Schumer: Inside Amy Schumer
Before this season, Amy Schumer’s show was totally fine. Every now and then, a strong sketch would pop into my feed and I’d find it pretty funny and, well, that was that. Goodness knows what muse Schumer consulted between last season and this one, because now her show is the most reliable sketch show on TV, bar none. Football Night Lights? The Twelve Angry Men parody? Her appearance on The Bachelorette? Forget about it. She is tapped into a very exclusive level of comedy right now. Speaking of The Bachelorette…
7. Brady Toops: The Bachelorette
I’d say it takes talent, intellect, charisma and wit to nab a spot on The Bachelorette, but let’s face it. A lot of dudes have ended up on The Bachelorette who seem to be lacking in one or all of those departments.
That’s why Brady’s so special. Dude not only made it on to The Bachelorette—he then turned around and got off it Why? For the most noble reason of all.
6. Abbi and Ilana: Broad City
We didn’t waste a lot of time up front defining what a “hero” is, and that’s for the best, because Webster’s definition of “hero” doesn’t work for Abbi and Ilana. That’s his own loss and frankly, I feel sorry for him. For two seasons now, Abbi and Ilana have proved that heroism sometimes is just sticking to your own guns in the face of the monster that is New York City. And if you can do it while switching into the persona of a 1940s flapper when you’re blackout drunk, so much the better.
5. Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell
Prior to Carrie & Lowell, you could be forgiven for thinking Sufjan was on the downward slope of his creative peak. He’s been spending a lot of time blogging lately, and the blog posts have been entertaining but not particularly revelatory. His most recent releases were either too obtuse for the public (Age of Adz) or too gooey and sentimental (his most recent Christmas releases. But with Carrie & Lowell, he’s back where he started—an exceptional artist whose tender melodies bely a fearless vulnerability. The best may be yet to come.
4. Matt Murdock: Daredevil
Matt isn’t the most heroic of Marvel’s heroes. That title probably goes to Steve Rogers. Instead, Matt’s like us. He’s in over his head. He’s angry. He seriously doubts his ability to really do anything about the crime that plagues Hell’s Kitchen, but he feels guilty about not trying. So he takes on a force he can’t possibly hope to defeat with nothing more than a sense of moral fortitude and some Under Armor. If that’s not heroic, what is?
3. Peggy Olsen: Mad Men
Mad Men‘s final season gave us the most iconic shot in a series known for iconic shots, and it was all thanks to Elisabeth Moss’ invincible swagger.
2. Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp a Butterfly
For Kendrick, the easiest thing in the world would be for him to follow up good kid, MAAD City with another album of blazing singles and furious stories about growing up in Compton. He would have sold a few million albums and become the new Nas everyone keeps saying he is.
Instead, we got To Pimp a Butterfly. It’s not a collection of singles or stories, but one giant, unwieldy wrestling match with heritage, blackness, fame, God and America. It’s so personal you almost feel bad listening sometimes—like you’re eavesdropping on someone’s secrets. It’s the bravest musical feat of the year and most others, and, oh, it sold a few million copies and cemented Kendrick’s claim to being the new Nas.
1. Imperator Furiosa: Mad Max: Fury Road
Was there any doubt? Did you really think someone else was more heroic this year than Furiosa? A one-armed War Boy turncoat who smuggled a harem of hostages out in her war rig before SPOILER ALERTing every last SPOILER ALERT? If that’s what you thought, you’re out of your mind.