What makes a hero? In one way or another they face the ultimate, the absolute unknown, the terror, the end or the beginning…death. There are three types that spring immediately to mind.
1) The hero who overcomes the obstacles of death.
They answer the call of life by fighting through every deadly trap set for them. Today I think they include our celebrities. One of the conflicts with modern society and the hero is that we see so much of the hero that we always see through to the impermanence of their power and inevitably see their mortality. Odysseus and Arjuna (of the Mahābhārata) were able to become gods in their own right because they could be imagined as such for not being known as human. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, etc. all led lives that were well documented enough to never truly reach the status of the immortal hero, they will not be god-ified. They may have deserved it more than some. Killian Jornet is one of my favorite examples of the hero who overcomes the obstacles of death. He is one of those athletes that in the times of the Greeks or anytime throughout Indian history would have become an immortal for the death-defying things he does. But in our world today, at some point, we will see him fall. Either literally, or figuratively in that his abilities will decline with age. Our imaginations will not overcome what we see.
2) The hero who destroys death.
These are the saints of olden times who effectively become gods. Jesus, Muhammad (although any good Muslim would take me to task for equating him with a deity), Buddha (any good Buddhist would take me to task for equating him with a god), Lao Tzu, etc. etc. They eradicate death, they are super-human, the overmen/women that mere mortals can only stand back and marvel at. They are so beyond human they could only come to be in a pre-mass media climate and more than likely they will not appear again. Although maybe L. Ron Hubbard proves me wrong…
3) The hero who accepts death.
These are those more ordinary individuals who have one astonishing characteristic, that they genuinely laugh in the face of death. These people have discovered a point of complete acceptance that would dismay most of us. They are either able to confront the threat of violence with total nonchalance or on their death bed can be unconcerned for their own condition and only show interest in the welfare of others.