I like men who swagger. When a man with an attitude enters a room, everyone knows it. Men of lesser confidence back down, and women look twice. Out of my own books, my two favorite heroes are John Leaf in Abbie’s Outlaw and J.T. Quinn in The Outlaw’s Return. Both of these men have outlaw pasts, but they also have hearts for love, truth and justice.
So what makes a bad boy so appealing? The swagger is part of it; so is the rebellion and the sex appeal. But what most appeals to me is the back story. Why is he the way he is? What happened to him? Who hurt him? My bad boys heroes are rogues, but they’re also willing to die for people they love.
I thought it would be fun to take a look at the research that goes into a bad boy hero. It’s not exactly research in the academic sense. It’s more like daydreaming, but these characters have to start somewhere. Here’s my list of favorite bad boys from real life, fiction, movies and television.
No. 1 on my list is Johnny Cash. The man in black had a bad-to-the-bone swagger, and Walk the Line is one of my favorite movies. Later in life, he made a u-turn. The story of Nickajack Cave is legendary. It’s the place where he decided to give up some bad habits and become a new man. He did . . . but he didn’t stop swaggering.
No. 2 is Rhett Butler. I haven’t seen Gone With the Wind in years, but I can still recall the scene where he and Scarlett are fleeing Atlanta and he kisses her. Talk about confidence! It’s got to be one of the most romantic scenes ever. Even in the end, after he loses his little girl and is mellowed by grief, Rhett still has an inner strength.
The No. 3 slot goes to Bruce Springsteen for his music. His “Born to Run” CD is one of my favorites. The title track is a legend, and so is “Thunder Road.” Bruce grabs life by the shoulders and shakes it. I love that! It’s the same energy that settled the American West, the same boldness that gave us heroes and outlaws and Wild West legends.
No. 4 on my list is Daniel Craig in the James Bond movies. He took one of the longest running franchise roles of all time and made it fresh and original. Humor, courage, intelligence and a big dash of arrogance make the new James Bond a pleasure to watch
No. 5 . . . Johnny Cain in Penelope Williamson’s The Outsider has been at the top of my list of favorite western bad boys ever since I read the book back in the 1999. It’s the book that made me to tell stories of my own, and I love it more than ever.
Real or imaginary . . . Who are some of your favorite bad boy heroes?