2. Revolver Ocelot
Here we have another hero who technically isn’t a “comic” hero, seeing as he’s the second one on this list from the “Metal Gear” saga. “Revolver Ocelot” is the code name for a special operative named Adamska who was born directly into the control of the group who held all the world’s true political, economic, and military power, “The Patriots.” His potential for high level espionage and special operation management were obvious from the start, and it didn’t take long for The Patriots to insert him into the field as an undercover agent in the Russian GRU faction. To review Ocelot’s complete (and very, very complex) history would take far more time than we have here, so let’s simply get into the subject of what makes him a hero.
Ocelot took it mostly upon himself to combat the worst kind of villain, which meant that he had to be the best kind of hero. Heroes are largely defined by the sacrifices they’re willing to make for the greater good, and in this particular department Ocelot is unrivaled. The term “ultimate sacrifice” gets thrown around a lot, and it usually refers to someone’s decision to die for a cause. While Ocelot did eventually pay the “ultimate price,” he trumps every other hero on this list in this regard because he paid so much more than his physical/biological existence. Imagine dedicating yourself so thoroughly to a cause, wanting to bring down the established power structure so badly, that you were willing to use a combination of psychopharmacological drugs and hypnotic suggestion to turn your very consciousness into a carbon copy of someone else’s. Now imagine that your reason for doing this was that you had to find a way to perpetuate a genuine struggle between two warring sides in an effort to trick an un-trickable system. Ocelot gave his life away long before he actually died, and he succeeded in pulling the most epic fake-out move on the forces of evil ever conceived in the history of storytelling. And he didn’t stop giving there, either. He would get no recognition for his effort, no reward for all his sacrifice other than knowing, in his final moments, that he had succeeded. The few corners of history that would remember him, would remember him as a monster who tried and failed to subjugate the entire planet. And indeed he was, by all measurable standards, a villain–right up until you looked at the entire picture in retrospect and took inventory of his results. It would be literally impossible to sacrifice more than Ocelot did in his pursuit of everyone’s freedom.
The man himself was an eccentric sort of fellow who carried himself like an Old Western cowboy, complete with gun belts and spurs on his heels. He was an unapologetic showboater who firmly believed the Colt Single Action Army to be “the greatest handgun ever made,” and was such a deadly shot that he could bullseye targets after ricocheting bullets off of nearby objects. The guy absolutely oozed a charming sort of charismatic drama that led to memorable quotes like, “Excellent speech my friend! Gift of the silver tongue! They say it’s the mark of a good officer…and of a liar.” He wasn’t much on mysticism and hocus pocus, and only put his stock in cutting edge technology, the tools he used to advance his sinister(?) plans.
Despite his noble endgame, Ocelot has the dubious heroic distinction of causing a massive amount of suffering and collateral damage in his mission for peace, making him one of the most perplexing and difficult to categorize characters in recent history. It’s really hard to know, especially after everything comes to light, which parts of his personality were calculated and which were genuine. This means that his actions were the only tangible things by which to judge his character, and his actions were almost never heroic. He was no stranger to torture, and over time developed something of a sadistic streak that earned him a fearsome reputation as an interrogator. At one point he sank an oil tanker in the midst of the ocean with dozens of innocent crew members on board, leaving them to either die or miraculously swim to safety…but no one made it. He shot numerous people in cold blood, consistently double and triple crossed his associates, and hung countless others out to dry, leaving a trail of destruction and misery in his wake that even the most hostile villains have a hard time keeping up with.
I first encountered Revolver Ocelot, like the rest of the world, in the first 30 minutes of Metal Gear Solid in 1998. He had strung Kenneth Baker, the president of defense contractor Arms Tech, up with explosives, knowing that Snake had infiltrated the now infamous Shadow Moses facility to rescue him. A gunfight ensued, and Ocelot was defeated but escaped with his life after famously losing his right hand. At the time, he just seemed like the first in a line of standard video game bosses who were only there to provide a minor road block to the end of the story. I don’t think anyone had any idea just how important to everything he would turn out to be. I certainly didn’t.
Ocelot winds up functioning very well as both a hero and a villain, and should find himself near the top of any list of either one, I think. Whether he was more one than the other is something for each individual to decide, but for my money, he was one of the greatest heroes in the history of fiction. I know that I’ve said repeatedly during this countdown series that a real hero finds another way, but in this case, there simply was no other way. Revolver Ocelot challenged the entire world without any superpowers at all, and succeeded in changing the course of history for the better if you like freedom. It’s true that he caused a lot of damage in the process, but he gave more to his own cause than he ever asked or expected anyone else to give, and that makes a hero in my book. For all the trouble he caused, he understood the value of the things that a strong, civilized society cherishes, and there were times when he displayed that sort of warrior chivalry beautifully. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Ocelot quotes, this one from Metal Gear Solid 3 during his final(?) showdown with the story’s hero: “You’re not a snake, and I’m not an Ocelot; we’re men, with names. My name is Adamska. What’s yours?” Believe me, people, that guy was made of awesome. Number one is right around the corner gang, we’re almost home!