Guide to Survival, Series

Guide to Survival: The Movie Sidekick

By Symon Kenny, Uganda:

Every villain has henchmen, and every hero has a sidekick. Someone who's got the hero's back, someone who's there to dive in front of a bullet at less than a moment's notice, someone to help the hero whisk his damsel to safety. Someone to distract the villain while the hero does something extremely delicate and important. The sidekicks tend to range between the highly capable and the extremely inept. Now, you could find yourself at any point along that spectrum, but if you wish to get through the movie in one piece, and retire to a tropical island once the hero's quest is over, there are some things you should know.

Tip #1: Learn how to fight. It is very likely that the hero will be unable to take care of himself, so you'll have to take care of him. In the event that he can take care of himself, it helps that his sidekick isn't entirely helpless. Either way, being able to fight is a bonus. Or else you're just dead weight on the hero's mission.

Tip #2: You should be able to follow simple instructions. Statements like “Take Katie to a safe place!” should never be lost in translation. It simply means “Remove Katie from the place with heavy conflict and place her where there's no danger.” It does not mean stick around and pester the hero with needless questions about his safety while bullets miraculously miss his exposed head from behind the boxes. He's the hero. He'll be fine. You, however, are expendable.

Tip #3: Don't fight the hero's battles for him. Let's get one thing straight; the hero's invincible. Whether you believe it or not, he'll triumph. No matter how insurmountable the villain is, the hero will win somehow. So, just because the hero hasn't finished his training and you're currently stronger than he is doesn't mean you should vanquish his foe and save him the trouble. If you do, your demise will strengthen him to fight. That's a good thing. But you won't have the benefit of retiring.

Tip #4: Don't accompany the hero on a quest if you're sick. You guys could be slick as city lawyers, but it won't help your case if you're skulking about, only for you to break into a ruthless bout of sneezing, simply because you're allergic to cats. Then you start asking the hero why his villain needs 22 cats in the first place, all amidst the gunfire of the now alerted houseful of guards.

Tip #5: Don't get captured by the villain at a crucial stage of the quest. Villains love a good bargaining chip. And sidekicks have a knack for getting themselves captured, while off on a side mission, usually of their own making. You tell the hero to go ahead while you create a distraction, which is not only silly, but in the end proves to have been a rather useless endeavor. So, just don't.

Tip #6: Endeavour to engage in various side missions with enthusiasm. Not only do these increase your hero's capacity to trust you, they also add valuable experience points to you. You'll be more useful in the future, especially when the hero's life is at risk. It looks cool to appear in the nick of time to fend off a wayward henchman with a frying pan, thus 'saving' the hero's life and keeping the quest alive.

Tip #7: If you happen to have a love interest that insists on tagging along, remind her that the position of 'damsel in distress' is already taken (by the hero's love interest). If she gets herself in a bind, it's not up to the invincible hero to save her, but her sacrifice will strengthen the hero to go on with his quest. And then the sidekick will be the one to suffer the emotional distress. Usually there's not enough movie time for sidekick's emotional distress, so please act accordingly.

Tip #8: If you happen to be the sidekick of the bumbling variety, at least learn to time your bumbling. You could stumble onto a prone sniper, causing his 'would-have-been-perfect-killshot' to harmlessly hit the ground at the hero's feet. You may then proceed to slug it out with sniper while the hero escapes, or you could stumble the heck out of there. I'm certain trained killers are not used to chasing bumblers and will have a tough time catching you.

Tip #9: If you happen to be the sidekick of the supremely skilled variety, then you need to talk to your agent. How do you get to do most of the grunt work in saving the day, only to have the idiotic, still invincible hero take all the credit? In fact, it's about time they upgraded you to hero status, then that vacation is assured!

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