Short answer: Inner struggle!
Of course, the relevance of a hero is almost always in the presence of a villain. A villain is a character that we commonly see as a focused and opinionated character.
On the other hand, the hero only has one strong trait, and that is his sense of duty. The importance of duty often gives birth to the inner struggle, which continues throughout the movie’s story.
We are talking about the stereotypical hero in a very typical kind of movies (mostly action!)
In many storylines, we see that the hero is living an ordinary and regular day, even if it’s a celebration, he seems to be just behaving as if its “just another day!”
It’s after work or the event or the day’s work when he finds himself in a situation that makes up the movie’s main plot, like a heist, a hostage situation, a crisis, or maybe a robbery.
The event’s timing is noteworthy – it is when a person would usually say goodbye to his or her work and rest. But here, our hero puts his duty forward. There will be more characters that can suggest their inclination or a sad back story.
For example, one of the criminals is underaged or trying to provide his family with the promised money. It is the first stage of inner-struggle that the hero would face! He has to feel for the character, but eventually, do what his duty demands. He would sympathize but finally, arrest or kill the character. It is when we see the hero break momentarily.
The next stage is when the hero finds out that one of his “own” people is behind it or profiting from the crime. He would again have to choose between what is right and wrong! No points for that, but we know what he would choose.
All these events and acts magnify his inner struggle and how he eventually sides with what is right.
Towards the climax, we would see how his act goes unrewarded or rewarded less than what they deserve. This part puts the story’s real heroism at a much high level, and it goes on to prove that the act is so big that it is beyond any reward.
The hero would go through stages that would include sacrificing, taking personal risks for the greater good, being misunderstood, intense emotional choices, etc.
What makes such stories so popular? In my opinion, it makes us a part of the hero’s inner struggle, and that is where we connect. We all faced such intense situations where we felt chaos inside us, and we often take the easy way out.
These movies make us feel life after hard decisions.
Comment what you think makes a good onscreen hero?