Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Top 10 Time Travelers

Time travel stories, when done right, are thoughtful and absorbing.  Fascinating plot elements like alternate timelines, paradoxes, time loops, re-writing of history, and others can arise from time travel stories.  But, more importantly, time travel stories are made more interesting by their featured time travelers – how they get to travel through time, their motivations/reasons for doing so, and how they use time travel to their advantage.  Here are my favorites…    


Henry DeTamble is the time traveler in Audrey Niffenger’s novel The Time Traveler’s Wife, which was also adapted into the film of the same name starring Eric Bana.  DeTamble has a fictional genetic disorder that makes him randomly and uncontrollably time travel to the past or future.  But despite his condition, he was able to develop and maintain a romantic relationship with Clare, who became his wife. 

The Time Traveler’s Wife is one of the most creative utilization of time travel in a story.  The love story of Henry and Clare is made very unique and interesting because of Henry’s peculiar time travel ability, which made possible a couple of remarkable convergences between the couple during their lifetime.   The Time Traveler’s Wife is something worth reading/watching personally, and I won’t spoil anything here to deny you the pleasure of witnessing this extraordinary story for yourself.  

Also, if I’m to make a modern League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, this character has a spot on my team. 


Coming from the future, Booster Gold makes use of his knowledge of historical events and futuristic gadgets to be a superhero in the present.  A showboat and a fame-hog, his initial motivation for being a superhero was to enjoy the celebrity status that comes from being a superhero and then exploit his popularity to obtain a luxurious lifestyle.  However, overtime, though still retaining some of his self-promoting ways, he learned how to be a genuine, selfless hero.      


My most favorite book by Mark Twain is The Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.  The story tells of a Yankee named Hank Morgan, a superintendent for a factory of firearms by trade, who finds himself mysteriously transported to the place and time period of King Arthur’s reign after being hit on the head by a crowbar.  Armed with his ingenuity, modern knowledge, and manufacturing proficiency, Hank gradually rose in influence and power in England – continuously developing the country until it got to the point that it possessed 19th century infrastructure and technology.   

A 30th-century native, Kang is one of the most notable villains of the Marvel Universe.  Ever since he discovered the time travel technology that Dr. Doom (an ancestor of his) had developed, Kang has ever since been traveling the time stream and devising schemes to conquer the world’s timelines.  But superheroes like the Avengers and Fantastic Four are fortunately always there to stop him. 

Because of his time traveling nature, at least two alternate selves of Kang have spun-off in the timeline.  The first of which is Immortus, a future version of Kang who agreed to preserve timelines for the Time-Keepers in exchange for immortality.  The second one is Iron Lad, the teenage version of Kang, who is appalled of the man he will grow up to be and vowed to avoid the evil path that his future self will take.        


Phil Connors is the main character of the classic movie Groundhog Day.  Unlike the other time travelers of this list, who traveled to the future and/or the past, Phil is instead stuck in a time loop – forced to re-live the same day again and again. 

Introduced as a pessimistic, egoistic weather reporter, he was tasked to cover the Groundhog Day celebration in the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  It was an assignment that he didn’t want to do, and it was apparent from the way he grudgingly delivered his report and his persistence of living the town as soon as possible.  Unfortunately for him, a blizzard forced him to spend another night in the town.  However, waking up the “next day”, he discovered that the day had repeated itself for him.  This was also what he discovered the “following day”, and the “next”, and so on; Phil had to go through Groundhog Day at Punxsutawney over and over again.         

At first, Phil just used the time loop as an opportunity to fool around – which included unethical acts as picking up girls and stealing money from an armored car.  He eventually got exhausted of the time loop, and sought to end it by killing himself.  However, no matter how many times he tried killing himself, he would always find himself waking up – alive – to live through another Groundhog Day. 

Phil, in due course, decided to use the time loop to improve himself.  With unlimited time at his disposal, Phil proceeded to learn various skills and expand his knowledge.  He studied literature and taught himself to speak other languages.  He also learned how to ice sculpt and how to play the piano.  Moreover, he used his familiarity of the day’s events to help people around the town, making him popular and much well-liked in the town in just “one day.”

After becoming a better person through the entire experience (which probably lasted thousands of days) – and winning the girl of his dreams through honest, natural means instead of manipulations (as what he attempted during the first days he was stuck in the time loop) – Phil finally found himself free from the time loop, and decided to permanently settle in Punxsutawney which he learned to love.


Nathan Summers a.k.a. Cable doesn’t have much exposure nowadays but there was a time when he was the most popular X-Man next to Wolverine.  I adored this character during the peak of his popularity.  He’s kind of an awesome mash-up of Captain America (the tactical capacity and instinct of a soldier-commander), Forge (cybernetic enhancements and technology manipulation), the Punisher (the anti-heroic, badass persona; and the proficiency and affinity for big guns), and Prof. X (powerful telepathic and telekinetic powers).  
He is the son of Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Madelyne Pryor (Goblin Queen), the clone of Jean Grey.  He was born in the present timeline but was sent to the distant future and grew up there.  When he returned back to the timeline of his birth, he had already grown to an adult.  In the present timeline, he founded the X-Force and has constantly allied with the X-Men, even becoming a member at some point.  He has several times traveled through time, and has even been described by Beast as having “latent time-travel abilities.” 


The classic Back to the Future trilogy is considered by many as the greatest time travel story in film ever, regardless of having a couple of plot holes.  The trilogy’s two main characters are high school student Marty McFly and the eccentric Doc Brown.  The former served as the central protagonist of the story, traveling to both past and future timelines by the use of the DeLorean time machine that the latter invented.  Marty was the first one to experience time traveling with the DeLorean, but after his initial adventure to the past (in the first movie), Doc Brown became a constant time travel companion (in the second and third movie). 


The Terminator is not only one of the greatest cyborgs, one of the greatest ex-“bad guy” protagonists, and one of the most recognizable badass characters in fiction, but he’s also one of its greatest time travelers.  The Terminator was originally sent by the Machines from the future to the present timeline to kill the mother of John Connor, the leader of the human resistance.  However, the subsequent versions of the Terminator that traveled back in time were reprogrammed units sent by the humans to protect a young John Connor.

1.) THE DOCTOR    
“The Doctor” (his real name is still unknown) is one of the most iconic and most unique fictional characters ever.  He is the titular protagonist of the long-running, beloved TV series, Doctor Who (which I only got into last year).  In the show’s 50 plus years, thirteen actors have portrayed the Doctor without breaking continuity.  This has been made possible due to a plot device called “regeneration” – an ability of a Time Lord to assume a new form (changing in appearance and personality) whenever his mortality is at risk (getting fatality injured or getting too old).  The image I chose for the Doctor is that of David Tennant’s 10th Doctor, who is my favorite so far (my second most favorite, for the record, is the current one, Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor).             

The Doctor is the only non-human time traveler in this list.  He seems human in appearance but he is in fact a Time Lord.  Time Lords are natives of the planet Gallifrey and can travel through space and time with ease by means of sentient time travel machines called TARDISes.  The Doctor’s TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) is permanently stuck in the form of a 1960’s style London police box because its “chameleon circuitry” is broken (and the last setting that it was set on was that of a police box). 

Always enthusiastic for new adventures and eager to share them with friends (known as “companions” in Doctor Who terminology), the Doctor is constantly travelling across the universe and through different time periods.         

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