Best and Worst Sci-Fi Movie Dads

Friday, 17 June 2016 - 4:27PM
Star Wars
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Friday, 17 June 2016 - 4:27PM
Father's Day is on Sunday, and in honor of that celebration of fathers everywhere, we've decided to call out some of the best and worst fathers in sci-fi history. From heroes who battle post-apocalyptic landscapes to save their children to mouth-breathing supervillains who cut off their children's hands, here are some positive and negative examples of fatherly love in sci-fi:

Worst: Darth Vader, Star Wars

Anakin Skywalker is by far the most iconic sci-fi dad there is, but he's by no means the best one. He tried to kill Luke and Leia's mother while they were still in the womb, abandoned his children after their mother died in childbirth, destroyed Leia's homeworld, chopped off Luke's hand, tried to turn both Luke and Leia to the Dark Side, and threatened to kill each of them at one point or another. And yes, he did have a moment of redemption right before he died, but he's Darth Vader. Worst. Father. Ever.

Worst: Han Solo, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

But if there's one person who beats Darth Vader for Worst. Father. Ever., it's probably Han Solo. No matter what any of the other dads on this list have done, at least they can wake up every morning and tell themselves, "At least my child didn't end up like Kylo Ren."

(Will we have to add Luke Skywalker to this list in the next couple of years?? We'll see!)

Best: Mr. Incredible, The Incredibles

Mr. Incredible/Bob Parr isn't a great dad at the beginning of the film, as he is too concerned with being a superhero to focus on being a father. But by the end of the movie, he realizes that the glory of being a superhero isn't nearly as important as being a good father to his children. Plus, the dancing. What a dorky dad.

Worst: Big Daddy, Kick Ass

You know a character is going to be terrible when he's not only played by Nicolas Cage, but has a name that sounds like he's getting ready for a session with a dominatrix. Big Daddy puts his eleven-year-old daughter's life at risk on a daily basis and traumatizes her for life by turning her into a mini assassin. You felt bad for Hit Girl when Big Daddy was immolated right in front of her, but really, she's probably better off.

Best: Jor-El, Superman

In almost every iteration of Superman, Jor-El is an exemplary father. His entire planet was being destroyed, but instead of trying to save himself, he used his last moments to save his son's life and send him to Earth. What a class act.

Worst: Cooper, Interstellar

The emotional core of Interstellar was supposed to be the deep, abiding connection between Cooper and his daughter, Murph. But among the many flaws of that movie was the fact that Coop is a terrible father. He kept saying his family was more important than any mission, but then his decision to leave them and possibly never see them again was made in about five minutes. He was clearly sad to leave Murph, we'll give him that much, but he literally did not care about his son. He never spoke of him once he went to space, and didn't even ask if he was still alive once he was reunited with his daughter. For five minutes, at which point he ran off to find Anne Hathaway. Whatever.

Best: Man, The Road

Unlike Interstellar, The Road successfully made the father-child relationship the emotional core of the film. Viggo Mortenson's "Man" was undeniably flawed, but he loved his son the best way he knew how: by keeping him alive at all costs, even when he realized that he himself was dying.

Worst: Superman, Superman Returns

We love Brandon Routh as much as the next person, but Superman Returns can essentially be described as follows: "Hey, remember when Superman was a deadbeat dad and everything was terrible?"

Worst: Ernest Holm, Young Ones

Michael Shannon's performance elevated the almost great sci-fi Western Young Ones while he was on screen, but that doesn't change the fact that his character was a fairly terrible father. He was clearly trying to do right by his children, but between his wife's infirmity and his alcoholism, he had too many demons to constructively deal with the pressures of single parenthood, especially when it came to his daughter. He was ostensibly trying to protect her, but ultimately he locked her up, threw away the key, made her do all the cooking and housework, and came dangerously close to physically abusing her. A for effort, but F for execution.

Best: Roy Tomlin, Midnight Special

Of course Michael Shannon has such a wide range that he ends up on both sides of the spectrum. Like The Road, Midnight Special placed the father-son relationship at the forefront of the film, and Roy Tomlin was essentially defined by his love for his son. Everything he does, he does to protect Alton, from escaping a religious cult to fleeing from Kylo Ren Adam Driver's FBI agent. 

Best: Wade, Maggie

Here is an exclusive new clip from my film Maggie, coming Friday! It is a totally different type of zombie film. Enjoy. #MaggieMovie

Posted by Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday, 4 May 2015

Who knew that Arnie had such a soft side? In his first bonafide dramatic role, he played Wade, a farmer who refuses to quarantine his daughter after she's infected by a terminal zombie virus. In doing so, he risks becoming one of the undead on the slim chance that he can find a way to save his child, or at least ensure that she doesn't die alone. Reviews of Maggie were slightly mixed, but it definitely gets a thumbs up in the parenting department.

? - Peter Quill's father, Guardians of the Galaxy

James Gunn has made it abundantly clear that we'll meet Peter Quill's father in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (in fact, it's one of the few things we actually know about the sequel). We can't really pass judgment on him before knowing his identity, as it will supposedly be different from his identity in the comics, but all we can say is, he'd better have a good excuse for being gone all this time.
Science Fiction
Sci-Fi Movies
Star Wars
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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