The movie orphans shown below, ranked in alphabetical order, prove that the life of an orphan is what you make of it…
Will Hunting – Good Will Hunting
He’s an orphan, but instead of gaining magical powers he has grown an enormous brain, filled with numbers. He probably wouldn’t be your first choice of notable movie orphans, unless you were writing a list of ten of them in alphabetical order. Still, he is an impressive orphan who is important because he did not subsequently become a superhero.
Clark Kent/Kal-El – Superman
An orphan because of the destruction of his home planet rather than the death of just his parents, Clark Kent was Superman, was Kal-El. His Earth name was Clark Kent, so for our purposes that is his name in this list. Perhaps the most powerful of the orphans on this list, his power is almost infinite as long as he doesn’t eat some green rock or something. Also he wears a cape.
Hannibal Lecter – Silence of the Lambs
An example of someone who didn’t take to orphanism in a positive way is Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter. There’s a certain amount of nominative determinism involved in a man named Hannibal becoming a cannibal, which, when combined with the explosive death of both parents and the murder and cannibalisation of his sister at an early age, is a recipe for a psychotic genius.
Magneto – X-Men
He’s a bit like Catwoman in that he is a little bit naughty and a little bit sexy, and his motives aren’t always clear. He occasionally helps the X-Men to work towards a greater goal, but he’s mostly very mean and incredibly magnetic, almost absurdly so. Like, it is absurd how magnetic he is. Seriously, like, he broke a bridge with pure magnetism.
Jamal Malik – Slumdog Millionaire
It’s a name that, again, isn’t instantly familiar until one mentions the iconic film they were a part of. Jamal is the titular slumdog, the poor orphan who fell in with a bad crowd and went on to win the heart of a nation, a girl and a load of money, in probably the most heart-burstingly joyous film to ever involve blinding by acid.
Peter Parker – Spider-man
Less a magical alien and more a nerd bitten by a radioactive spider – in fact, exactly that. Peter Parker lived with his aunt and uncle and initially hid his powers and was ashamed of them, before fully embracing the opportunity for beating anthropomorphosised villains and partaking in upside-down kissing.
Harry Potter – Harry Potter and the… (insert initially cryptic-sounding item or place here)
Harry Potter, erstwhile Boy Wizard and perhaps the apotheosis of Orphan Figure as Christ – he’s misunderstood in his time and held back until everybody realises he needs to destroy the noseless man who killed his parents. With the right wand he could possibly be more powerful than Superman; certainly less ridiculous looking.
Damien Thorn – The Omen
He of The Omen, the child of an unholy union between a jackal and a woman and also the Antichrist. Could anyone conceived and born in those circumstances be anything but? Responsible for more dead goldfish and smashed pot plants than anybody else on this list, unless you count that time Superman spun the Earth backwards on its axis and everything got a bit messed up.
Oliver Twist – Oliver!
The cheeky rapscallion-turned cheeky criminal Oliver Twist is an orphan who is taken in by a horrible old man and his gang of child criminals, and taught the ways of the street. He forgets all this after an encounter with an even worse man and his dog, and then he is taken in by a nice rich family and lives happily ever after.
Bruce Wayne – Batman
The ultimate orphan, he is the world’s greatest detective/martial arts supremo/tough guy/billionaire/playboy/genius. He has everything and still wants to get on the streets, crack some heads while inexplicably failing to catch some pretty indiscreet criminals. Still, cool cape.