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Top 7 Heroic Bystanders in Superhero Films

It has been a common tradition in the superhero medium that the normal citizens are all helpless and useless without the presence of our caped crusaders of justice to save them. But occasionally in some films, the bystanders come to the aid of the heroes, stand up to the bad guy, and fight back. These brave, awesome characters show you don’t need superpowers to be a hero and save the day.

7. Stan Lee


Good old Stan Lee always makes a memorable cameo in the Marvel movies, appearing as actual characters, as himself, or humourous walk-ons. However, a couple of times, he has been able to actually lend a hand in saving the day. In Spider-Man 2, Stan Lee’s cameo is very brief, appearing as a spectator to the first battle between Spider-Man and Doc Ock. The two cause debry to fall off a building, and Stan Lee leaps to the rescue, dragging a woman out of the way as rubble rains down upon the street below. He also did something similar in the first film where he saves a little girl during the fight between Spidey and the Green Goblin.

6. Gotham Bank Manager


Gotham is notorious for its crime rates, but no one is dumb enough to rob a bank run by the mob. Well, no one apart from The Joker and his masked clown goons. Though the clowns take out the security guards and terrify the customers, the silent bank manager doesn’t take kindly to the intruders – and rightly grabs a sawed-off shotgun from beneath his desk, leans back in his chair, and blows away the men with the gun. William Fichtner plays the badass bank manager, who puts up a good fight until the Joker guns him down and sticks a smoke grenade in his mouth while making off with stolen cash.

5. Aunt May


Spider-Man 2 ends up with a lot of heroic bystanders, and Aunt May joins the list. Peter Parker’s usually frail aunt gets kidnapped by Doc Ock during a bank heist, and she gets tossed about halfway up a building as hero and villain do battle. But, when Doc Ock attempts to pull a surprise attack on Spider-Man, Aunt May says enough is enough and blindsides the badguy with her handbag. In the comics, May views Doctor Octopus as a gentleman and even nearly married him. But here, she is wise enough to know a badguy when she sees it. I bet she could’ve taken on Venom with an umbrella!

4. The Gotham Prisoners


One of the pivotal scenes in The Dark Knight is the ferry scene where The Joker hides bombs on two ferries – one carrying evacuees and the other carrying prisoners; he challenges both ferries to blow up the other boat or they all die. While Batman is busy trying to apprehend The Joker, the fate of the citizens falls to themselves in a decision which is both impossible and terrifying to imagine in real life. But it is the prisoners of all people who decide to screw The Joker’s philosophies, led by Tom Lister, Jr., who encourages the prison warden present to hand over the bomb detonator and tosses it out of the window. I like the duality of the two ferries – the prisoners are all arguing and about to insight a riot, but decide to just do the decent thing. On the other ferry, the citizens debate over their decision and vote to detonate the bomb. The prisoner who does the good deed likely murdered someone, while the volunteer to detonate the other ferry is a sleazy banker type. Overall, it reveals to The Joker that not everyone is as crazy as he is. Take that, Mr. J.


About the author

Mark Russell