As summer approaches, it’s time to celebrate the dads in our lives, be it our own dads, the fathers of our children, or the father figures we’ve come to love. We at Geekade are equal-opportunity celebrators, so as we focused on moms of geek culture last month, we figured it was only fair to honor some of our favorite dads this month. This piece was a little harder to write than last month’s, thanks to toxic masculinity and the popularity of the “bad dad” trope as a part of so many characters’ backstories, but I was able to find some stellar examples in the fiction we love.
Who would have expected that Mr. BDE of the MCU would turn out to be such a sweet dad? Tony had relationship and commitment issues with Pepper from the jump, but when Tony returned from space to the one person he cared most about, he was willing, nay insistent, on giving everything up to start the Stark family and keep it safe. His relationship with Peter Parker softened the way and made him realize how good it could feel to nurture and guide a new generation and his desire to continue to keep the world safe for his daughter drove him to rejoin the Avengers in their quest to right the universe. Of course, now we are left with the “dead dad” trope as part of Morgan Stark’s origin story, but at least it was a fatherly sacrifice to be proud of.
This is the choice I expect to receive the most flak for. Yes, his kid turned into a supervillain, so bad job there, but I think we can all agree that as adults, we can’t blame everything on our parents. After all, it wasn’t Han’s influence that turned Ben to the dark side. By all appearances, the Solos were a happy family until Ben went off to train with Uncle Luke. We don’t have a ton of on-screen evidence of Han’s parenting, but what we do get to see speaks volumes. Han loves his son and never gives up on him, even when it means sacrificing himself. Kylo’s patricide is a pivotal moment in his character development, the regret of which ends up heavily influencing his return to the light side. Han is no fool, he knew the possibilities when he confronted his son, but he also knew that either way, he was doing what was best for his son.
George and Lance
For characters who appear so briefly in the show, Bow’s dads do a great many things to add to the positivity party that is She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. They provide one of the only examples in existence of black queer representation in children’s entertainment. In fact, they were the first example that sprung to mind when my 6-year-old son asked what “gay” meant. Bow’s dads are a loving couple and supportive fathers. Their dream is for their son to become their heir to their library of research on the First Ones and they resist engaging with the rebellion due to George’s bad experience with the first Princess Alliance and their desire to protect their son. But when the truth comes out that Bow wants to follow his own path and fight with the rebellion as he’s done all along, George and Lance support his decision and his right to make his own choices in life.
Just like his wife, Arthur Weasley is a model for good wizard parenting. He becomes a surrogate father to Harry, guiding him through all his interactions with the Ministry and taking him along as an equal member of the family to any Weasley family outings he could safely be included in, such as the Quidditch World Cup. Along with being a loving protector of his natural and surrogate children (I’m including Hermione and Fleur as well), he sets a good example for them all, preaching equality regardless of blood-status, working from within the corrupt Ministry to disrupt the Death-Eaters evil doings, and risking his job to support the Order of the Phoenix. He does get saddled with the clueless goofball persona, a trait assigned to far too many fictional dads, but in this case, the traits do seem to fit the man. The Weasley kids are some of the best characters in the books and it’s thanks in large part to an excellent upbringing by both mother and father.
It’s a bit unfair that Mark Williams gets to appear twice on this list, but I suppose it’s not his fault that he was perfectly cast in Doctor Who as well as Harry Potter. There examples of fatherhood in Doctor Who (I’m speaking of the reboot here) are few and far between. Those that can be found are either absent, cursory characters, or flat out bad dads, which makes me all the more grateful to have Rory’s dad to point to in my favorite show. Brian is an average dad, keen to help his kid in any way he can, down to the simplest task of changing a lightbulb. When he inadvertently gets taken along for the ride in “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship,” well he doesn’t exactly take it in stride, but he adapts a lot more beautifully than you’d expect a man of his age thrown into that wild a situation would. In the end, it’s his practicality and his love for and connection with his son that ends up saving the day in that episode, and his loving fatherhood is deservedly rewarded with the opportunity to explore all of time and space. His practicality came in handy once again as an observer of the cubes in “The Power of Three” and it was his appreciation of the unique opportunity of time travel that helped heal the rift between the Doctor and the Ponds, causing them to rejoin Team TARDIS. We all need a little help from our dads sometimes, especially ones who are happy to stay behind and help out with watering the plants.
Poor Dead Ned. What made him a good person and father also made him terrible at his job and got him killed. In a world where brutality and patriarchy are accepted as everyday fact, Ned was soft, just, and kind. He cared for all his children, and while Jon and Theon were never equals with the natural-born Starks, he treated them as well as could be allowed in their society. While his life was cut short, his legacy lived on to create a family of strong leaders. Those who survived to the end of the saga took their lessons from him and those who did not were alas too unlike him (RIP Robb) or just, well, Rickon. Westeros is not a great world and he’s certainly not the best dad we’ve ever seen compared to modern-day reality, but he leaves all the other fathers of that world completely in the dust.
When I say great dads of geek culture, this giant anthropomorphic rat might not immediately leap to mind, but let’s face it, if not for their father, there would be no Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What might seem at the outset to be a silly premise designed to sell toys is actually at its heart a story about family. Splinter raised the Turtles to be smart and kind and to always do right. He was always strict but fair and calm, always had the perfect nugget of wisdom to share, and was ready to intervene to save his sons whenever necessary.
It’s hard to say that a dad that was gone for most of a kid’s life is a great dad, but Chuck’s dad disappeared for the good of his family. It’s that rare case where the crazy conspiracy theorist wacko actually turns out to be right. Stephen Bartowski is a mad genius and even when he was gone, he looked out for his kids in his absence. They may have felt abandoned, but sometimes parents have to make those kinds of tough decisions to keep their families safe and the kids don’t always understand, even when they grow up. However, when he did come back into their lives, he always showed up to save the day, to help out beating the bad guy, or to provide a key piece of the puzzle. Was there any more heart-wrenching moment than when Chuck showed up at Ellie’s door with dad in tow to walk her down the aisle? He was always a good dad when it counted and that makes him great in my book.
When Mr. Incredible gave up his superhero identity to keep his family safe in hiding, it was his first great act as a father. Though he’s often tempted to return to the do-gooder life, he does his best to stay within the confines of Bob Parr’s life. When he ultimately gets pulled into Syndrome’s scheme, he ends up coming out of it with “a whole family of supers” and everyone’s a lot better off for it. He comes to discover that hiding who they are hurts them as a family and as individuals and being their authentic selves is better for everyone. Where he really earns his dad points is in Incredibles 2. The only thing Bob loves more than being a superhero, is his family. So when his wife is chosen as the face of the superhero legalization campaign, he steps up to take up the domestic slack and learns that sometimes being a hero just means being a really great dad so that your wife can go out and live her best life.
While we don’t get much of a taste of the original Black Panther in the MCU, the strongest trait we do see is his legacy as a father. Looking back to the comics, we can see he was already a great man before ever having children and it is evident in his limited cinematic appearances that he continued to exhibit those heroic traits as a family man. The main thing that drives T’Challa in Captain America: The Winter Soldier is his devotion to the wise and gentle king who raised him and Shuri. In Black Panther, we learn about his past and while not all his choices are defensible, he did his best to protect his family and his country. We also see that he is always there to provide sage advice to his son, even in death. His legacy is best seen in his children, who are wise, brave, and independent.
Of course this is a far from inclusive list, but these are some great dads who’ve meant a lot to me. If you’re not familiar with them, I highly recommend checking them out for some great examples of fatherhood. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there and especially those in our Geekade family. I hope you’re able to celebrate with your dad, your kids, or whoever plays a fatherly role in your life.
[Editor’s Note: This article was written for, and intended to originally appear online on, Father’s Day (Sunday, June 21, 2020). We apologize for the delay.]