Total Nerd

12 Times The Hero Becomes The Mentor In A Sequel

List Rules
Vote up the movie heroes who made the best mentors in their later years.

It's always an interesting phenomenon when movies get sequels many years, or even decades, later. Filmmakers need to find ways for the characters to have meaningfully changed during the gap. One common way they achieve this is to turn the heroes into mentors. Characters who were the focus of the plot the first time around now function in a different capacity, helping guide a new, younger character through some kind of ordeal.

The approach is logical, as it allows that initial hero to take everything they learned the first time and impart it to someone else. The following characters all made that transition to mentor duty. In their respective sequels, they were in a position where someone else needed their support, their wisdom, and the benefits of their experience. Audience members got to see them in a new light as a result.

Which of the following heroes who became a mentor made the best transition? Your votes will decide. 

  • The Original (Hero): Top Gun's Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is a hotshot Navy pilot. While his superior officers urge restraint and emphasize a need for compliance with the rules, Maverick likes to push the envelope. He figures that as long as he achieves a mission's objective, he can get away with his rebellious behavior. That very same desire to skirt convention comes in handy when a Navy ship accidentally ventures into hostile waters, necessitating a rescue mission. Maverick shoots down several enemy MiGs and chases others away with his intimidating skill in the air. He saves the day.

    The Sequel (Mentor): Maverick is called back to Top Gun by former rival Iceman (Val Kilmer). His new mission is to train a group of younger pilots to make a dangerous, nearly impossible attack on an enemy nation's uranium facility, which is covertly ramping up the manufacture of weapons. One of those pilots is the son of former wingman Goose, and the kid blames Maverick for his father's death. Whipping the team into shape entails helping them develop the very same boundary-pushing skills that Navy brass chastised him for 30 years ago. Although he continues to rub some people the wrong way, Maverick ultimately proves to be an inspiring leader to his pupils. 

  • The Original (Hero): Sylvester Stallone became a household name overnight when Rocky was released in 1976. He plays Rocky Balboa, a Philadelphia debt collector and aspiring boxer. Under the tutelage of trainer Mickey Goldmill, he works his way up through the ranks. Rocky is so successful, in fact, that he gets the chance to fight Apollo Creed for the world heavyweight championship. He doesn't win, but he doesn't go down either. That proves a sufficient victory to make him a winner anyway. 

    The Sequel (Mentor): A whopping 39 years later, Rocky flipped to the other side of the coin. Creed follows Adonis Johnson, the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, in his quest to establish himself as a pugilist. He lures Rocky out of retirement to train him. What's interesting about their relationship is that the veteran boxer offers more than just good advice on fighting. He also becomes a mentor on personal issues, having survived more than a few trials of his own over the course of the franchise. Interestingly, Adonis's big fight ends the same way - he loses on a split decision, but fights so well that he wins over the crowd.

  • The Original (Hero): Tony Stark's journey began in the original Iron Man. He was a billionaire industrialist who morphed into the titular superhero after having a change of heart about the weaponry his company manufactures and sells. Over the course of two sequels and several other MCU adventures, he proved instrumental in defeating foes like Whiplash and the Mandarin, as well as bringing Thanos to his knees. 

    The Sequel (Mentor): In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Stark is a supporting character rather than a heroic lead, but it's all for the best. He trains Peter Parker in how to become an Avenger. Just as importantly, he provides young Peter with some fancy Spider-Man technology. The prospect of joining the Avengers is alternately thrilling and terrifying, so Stark pops up regularly to dispense advice and guidance. He gets his protege ready to join the world's best superhero team, even offering tough love when needed. Star Robert Downey Jr. hits the exact right note of an experienced mentor passing along his knowledge to someone much greener in the saving-the-world department.

  • The Original (Hero): In the 2009 Star Trek reboot, Zachary Quinto took over the role of Mr. Spock, who had famously been portrayed by Leonard Nimoy on television and in film for decades. The movie depicts how Spock meets Capt. James T. Kirk and initially clashes with him. Their relationship improves dramatically after joining forces to combat a gang of Romulans intent on wiping out several worlds as revenge for a perceived injustice. Spock's ever-present sense of logic proves crucial in protecting innocent lives in the galaxy.

    The Sequel (Mentor): Spock is a rather unique case in the history of movie heroes who become mentors, because he becomes a mentor to himself. In Star Trek Into Darkness, Nimoy has a cameo as Spock Prime, an alternate version of the Vulcan. He pops up to advise Quinto's Spock on defeating the evil Khan. Of course, Nimoy's Spock faced a different version of the same villain in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. There's a real "passing of the torch" vibe to the scene, with the well-established iteration of the character offering guidance to the new one.