Chris Gardner - The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Chris Gardner might not have two pennies to rub together, but what he can offer his son is an unwavering moral compass that should see him right through later life. Despite his troubles, Chris continues to honor his commitment as a loving and caring father, using the affection and trust his son has placed in him as an impetus to overcome the obstacles he faces. His childhood might not be the most comfortable, but Gardner Jr. certainly can’t complain of a lack of love. This character is certainly one that truly touches my heart. Shoutout to Will Smith for his portrayal of this character with such perfection, it would have been injustice to leave this out of the list.
Thomas Wayne/Alfred Pennyworth - Batman Begins (2005)
A joint award to both Thomas Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth. The former is Bruce's actual father, the man who taught the young lad right from wrong, while the latter fills the role of father figure after Thomas meets an untimely death. Both can take credit for the various qualities that make Batman such a worthy hero. There is a reason Bruce Wayne never forgets about his parents’ death. It’s because of his idolization of Thomas Wayne, and how he only strived to make Gotham a better place to live in.
Bryan Mills - Taken (2008)
Most dads would react to the kidnap of their daughter with a mixture of fear and panic, but not Bryan Mills. He just gets very, very cross. Never has a dad been more single-minded in his mission to help his child, as Mills brings his full array of “special skills” to bear on the wrong ones who've kidnapped his daughter. Travelling to Paris, he swoops his daughter’s abduction site, before an extensive search throughout the city using old friends helps him track his drugged, almost-misused daughter back. The perfect movie for an action packed ‘good guy’ dad impersonation, Taken is simply a movie one cannot miss.
Marlin - Finding Nemo (2003)
Call him overly attached, call him insecure. His fear for losing his only son that survived the barracuda attacks was genuine, for what followed thereafter was his worst nightmare. Having watched his son get taken by scuba divers, Marlin the Clownfish sets about combing the ocean in order to be reunited with his missing son, Nemo. As a born worrier, it’s a real wrench for him to leave his patch of the sea bed, but he’ll do anything it takes to get his son back. He is one of the two animation characters that have made it to this list of elite heroic fathers.
Daniel Hillard - Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Having neither a job, nor a residence, Daniel Hillard has to give up custody of his children during his first divorce custody hearing. Granted, he was a terrible husband, but the things he did as a father more than make up for the love, or the lack of, he showed during his married days. On one hand, you could argue that seeing your father dressed as an elderly woman, peeing standing up and setting his fake breasts on fire might have some adverse effects on his kids later down the line. But on the other hand, there’s no denying that Daniel Hillard’s love for his kids was true, selfless, and definitely shameless. An odd dad, then, but a decent one, Mrs. Doubtfire is a strong candidate to be in this list.
The Godfather (1971)
A man of questionable morals in the workplace, Vito Corleone takes a different approach when it comes to his family. Vito Corleone, as a father, taught one thing above all, Family is everything. He never questioned Michael’s decision to not be a part of the mafia business and enroll in the Marines instead. In contrast, he never wanted a life of crime for his youngest son, as proven by the tears he sheds at the knowledge he has killed on behalf of the business. At least he dies long before Michael really goes over to the dark side. Vito Corleone, for one, proves that Family does come before anything else, and glides into our list of top fathers.
Mufasa - The Lion King (1994)
Mufasa, the iconic father that inspired our childhoods, taught us what wisdom is, what it’s like to be not just good, to be a great ruler. Mufasa remains the first nae I think of whenever I read the words “Lion, King of the Jungle”. He truly was a great king, and an even greater father. Fierce and wise when need be, Mufasa is also an extremely loving dad, playfighting with young Simba whenever he gets the opportunity, and gladly laying his life down in order to save his son. His lessons leave a deep imprint on Simba, who learns from his father that every creature must be respected in order for balance to be maintained. Even in his death, he made sure he was teaching his son one of the greatest lessons of all, sacrifice for your own. Needless to say, Simba wouldn’t be half the King he was if Mufasa wasn’t the ideal, noble, seemingle perfect father that he was.