It’s men’s health month, and while the men around us are starting to grow out their moustaches in support of Movember, it’s important to also talk about some of the struggles that men face both physically and mentally in their everyday life and how they can work to overcome it.
One way to help facilitate these conversations is to see more representations of men’s mental and physical health struggles reflected in the characters, series, and movies we love. So this November, we’re taking some time to appreciate a few of our favourite on-screen male characters. These guys have all faced challenges, and shown strength and vulnerability while teaching us all some invaluable life lessons.
Psst: Some of them have great facial hair, too!
Everyone loves character development, and no one does a redemption arc like the god of mischief. Starting off as a charming yet formidable villain, Loki goes to great lengths to deceive his family and the Asgardians in order to prove his worth and take the throne – but then suffers guilt, and regret as he processes grief after experiencing great personal loss. Going through what might be the most complex character journey in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, he starts to realise that he does indeed need people, and teams up with the Revengers in Thor: Ragnorak, and later on goes up against Thanos.
The Loki that we meet in the self-titled show is a complicated character – still sly and mischievous, but also wiser and more wary. Audiences have already grown to love this new instalment to the MCU, and who, Season 2, is going through yet another character-altering journey.
The patriarch of the family, Jay starts off the show as a stereotypical older man. In Season 1, Jay is tough and old-fashioned, struggling to be sentimental and outwardly emotional (though he isn’t afraid to show disappointment). But throughout the series, we see him evolve into a loving husband and father. He resolves important issues with his family that stem from his previous unhappy relationships and even jealousy. Throughout the seasons Phil goes on a huge emotional journey, becoming a man one who is in touch with his emotional side and has learned to be vulnerable.
What could be worse than seeing the criminal that you’re out to destroy trying to court your wife while you remain helpless to intervene because you’re working undercover? That’s the dilemma Detective Park Jun-mo finds himself in when he takes part in an operation to bring down a drug cartel. Fuelled by ambition, Jun-mo goes to great lengths to get the job done – but he also has to grapple with his actions and what the personal consequences might be.
When we first meet Joe, he wants to achieve his one wish in life: to perform as part of a live band. His whole life hinges on this one quest but unfortunately he passes just before it can happen. Refusing to go off into the great beyond, Joe finds a way to come back to earth to finish his quest. While trying to achieve his dream once again, Joe slowly starts to learn that what he saw as a meaningless life was full of precious moments, people who loved him, and the simple joys of everyday living.
Mitty starts off the show living a dull life, working at Life magazine at a unique time when the magazine is about to go fully digital. Bored with his current circumstances, he daydreams of adventure and romance, mostly inspired by Cheryl, his office crush. When the magazine finds that the image they had intended for their final physical cover has gone missing, Mitty embarks on a real-life adventure of his own, travelling the world, facing and overcoming daunting challenges and ultimately teaching his management that the true value of the company lies with its employees.
Fondly as Carmy, Chef Carmen Berzatto is an award-winning chef who returns to his hometown of Chicago to manage the chaotic kitchen at his deceased brother’s sandwich shop. Carmy dreams of transforming the restaurant into a world-class joint, but is constantly battling with personal struggles, crushing debt, a toxic work environment, and resistance to change.
Even though he’s young and is far from being the perfect leader, the show centres around how Carmy slowly begins to earn respect due to his authenticity, empathy, and willingness to listen and trust his team.
This one is for all the men out there who are working on being the best versions of themselves. In this series, Chris Hemsworth goes on an epic mission to discover how to live better for longer. With the help of world-class experts, family, and friends, he pushes himself (both physically and mentally) to new limits while testing the theory that the best way to combat ageing and the fear of mortality might be not to fight it.
We couldn’t make a list of men who’ve gone through their own challenges without mentioning Darth Vader. From being an inquisitive young jedi, to a young man in love and ultimately becoming a symbol of evil, his story, while tragic, shows us that under that evil facade was a damaged human being who still, even after everything, has the capacity for good.
Catch all these and more, now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.