“Space, the final frontier.”
Words like these inspired our childhood and invoked our imagination. We wish we were in those space ships blasting off into warp speed or going light speed through mysterious galaxies.
Space. What could be out there in the vast universe? What planets could we explore? What worlds are left unexplored? It takes the best of the best to answer these questions. These are the people called upon the answer these questions.
We celebrate these modern-day legends in film, books, and TV. Licensed merchandise featuring these fictional spacefaring heroes have become very popular, including t-shirts, hoodies, cups, hats, and more.
Who Are These Spacefaring Heroes?
Flash Gordon became one of the first American spacefaring heroes in the early 1930s. He and his girlfriend Dale Arden are “kidnapped” by a mad scientist, Dr. Hans Zarkov, who claims that a being from another planet is going to destroy the Earth. Zarkov sends the unwilling Flash and Dale in his rocket ship to the planet Mongo. There, Flash and Dale battle the evil Emperor Ming the Merciless, and save Earth from destruction.
Since that time, Flash has become one of the most enduring popular space heroes of all time. From comic pages of newspapers, to radio broadcasts and movie serials of the 1930s and 1940s, to TV and a modern feature-length film, Flash Gordon has remained well known to generations of fans.
Blasting off at Warp Factor 6, or dodging alien attackers, as children most of us fantasized about putting on the Starship Enterprise uniform and riding alongside Captain Kirk. The episodes, often took place in retro locations and somehow involved humans, prehistoric tribes with bows and arrows, the 1800s Wild West, and futuristic technology.
What makes Captain Kirk popular, and what we admire most about him, isn’t his fearless bravado, but his character. He does not act like a superhero, despite all the advanced technology at his disposal, but he (and his crew) are very human. The otherworldliness of the setting is ameliorated by the realistic personalities and characters portrayed by cast members.
Many argue that Buck Rogers is the first modern superhero. Appearing first in “Amazing Stories” magazine in 1928, Buck Rogers quickly amassed a large following. Buck became trapped in a mine, placed in a state of suspended animation, and awoke in the year 2491, where he fought bad guys with the help of his girlfriend Wilma Deering and others.
In the 1980s, the television version of Buck Rogers changed his origin story slightly, making Buck an astronaut who is frozen cryogenically because of a spaceship launch that went wrong
Just like Flash Gordon, Buck has had comic books, radio shows, and movies made depicting his adventures.
What we loved about Buck is his sense of adventure. Buck travels the universe defeating evil, rescuing planets and people, all while using futuristic technology that has become a part of the modern lore.
Isaac Clarke is best known to modern video gamers. This action/horror video game first appeared in 2008 and has had many iterations since.
Isaac and his crew are left stranded aboard a starship in the 26th century. It is up to Isaac, Commander Zach Hammond, and Computer Specialist Kendra Daniels. Together, they have to find rescue aboard a ship filled with “Necromorphs,” a violent alien species that attempts to infect any uninfected organisms.
Throughout this situation, Isaac Clarke demonstrates an insatiable will to live, which is part of what endears him to his fans.
He manufactures advanced weapons from scraps and creates armor from the ship’s wreckage. He also finds a way to fix the broken ship through MacGyver-like ingenuity.
No matter what obstacles are thrown at Isaac, he finds a way to overcome.
Barbarella was a 1960s creation that took the sexual revolution into space. The heroine attempts to thwart the plans of the evil Doctor Durand Durand. During her quest to find Durand, she is thrown into adventures on different worlds and uses her sexual charms to get out of, and sometimes into, difficult situations.
She rewards her closest friends and allies with sex. Eventually, Durand is defeated, thanks to her close friends and her good heart.
One of the most popular movies in the last two years has been Guardians of the Galaxy featuring as the main character Peter Quill, or Star Lord. Peter’s mother fell in love with an alien that crash lands on earth. He eventually repairs his ship and takes off, leaving Peter’s mother behind, pregnant with Peter.
Eventually, Peter gets abducted when he is 11 by a group of space pirates. He calls himself Star Lord and becomes a hero of the galaxy.
His popularity is driven by his ironic sense of humor, along with his fearlessness and refusal to leave friends behind.
Spacefaring heroes have remained popular worldwide since before the dawn of the Space Age. We get reminded of them through film, comic books, and popular memorabilia associated with each.
These heroes are no different than the heroes of myths and legends of the past, it is only the futuristic, technology-based settings where the adventures take place that has changed.