Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Top 10 Fictional Thieves

Stealing is always wrong.  But in the context of fiction, talented and cool thieves appeal to us greatly.  We are won over by their calculated planning, amazing skill sets, graceful athleticism, and inherent charm.  So we root for them and the success of their endeavors.

For this list, it’s not enough for a character to be just identified as a “thief.”  He or she should also have spent significant time being a thief during the run of the story that he or she is in.  Hence, though I like Gambit and Fantomex a lot, they are involved in more “superhero” stuff than actual “thief” stuff.  It’s the same thing with Inception’s Dom Cobb; he’s a unique thief-character because he steals information by infiltrating his targets’ dreams, but the plot of the movie had him implanting ideas instead of doing actual stealing.

So now, unto the list --


I think 1999 was when I first got interested in heist stories and fictional thieves, thanks to two interesting heist movies that came out that year: Entrapment and The Thomas Crown Affair.  However, I liked the latter’s story and featured thief, Thomas Crown, more.

Bored of his life’s status quo, wealthy financier Thomas Crown successfully stole an expensive painting from a museum in the cover of the confusion of a failed burglary (which he arranged).  He then developed romantic feelings for the insurance investigator that was going after him, Catherine Banning; to show that his love for her was genuine, he conducted a well-planned and well-executed operation full of misdirection that enabled him to return the painting hanging in the museum and to steal another one (a painting that Banning was interested in) amidst a building full of police officers.


Some may consider Black Cat as a Marvel rip-off of DC’s Catwoman (who is going to appear later in this list).  But there is enough substance and unique characteristics in this character to make her stand out.  She is functioning as a supervillain now, but for most of her character history, she was more of an anti-heroine that regularly sided with the good guys (especially with Spider-Man, with whom she even had a fling with) even though she’s a career thief.  And that’s what’s I liked most about her character.  She might team up with superheroes when the occasion calls for it, but she is – first and foremost – a thief, and never had any intention of stopping.


Robin Hood is the embodiment of archery, but he still definitely deserves a spot in this list.  He’s the “Prince of Thieves” after all.  In addition, the popular “steal from the rich, and give to the poor” trope started with him.


Fujiko constantly uses her allure to con targets.  But she’s not all sex appeal.  She’s a legitimately proficient thief, a daredevil biker, a badass martial artist, and a deadly weapons expert.

Though she isn’t an official part of Lupin’s crew, she has found herself working with them time and time again.  However, once the job is done, Fujiko would usually double-cross Lupin and take sole possession of the benefit that arose from the collaboration.  But Lupin, who is greatly smitten with Fujiko, doesn’t mind at all.


I haven’t followed the Magic Kaito anime in which Kaito Karaba a.k.a. Kaitou Kid is the main character.  I only get to encounter him due to his recurring appearances in Detective Conan (this one I followed for years).  But those few appearances – on which he either clashes or allies with Detective Shinichi Kudo/Conan Edogawa – were enough to make me like the character.

Kaito Kuraba is just a normal high school student, but he also keeps a secret alter ego, the magician-thief Kaitou Kid.  He has a genius level intellect (that’s why his match of wits against Shinichi/Conan usually ends in a draw) and has proven to excel in a variety of things.  He loves to show off his skills as a magician, and incorporates magic tricks in his heists as Kaitou Kid.  And just like the number one of this list, he is also a master of disguise.  Moreover, unlike the others in this list, there’s a fan base that roots for Kaitou Kid in his escapades; a crowd of fans often shows up in the place where he is spotted or expected to show up, and they cheer him as he goes after the item he intends to steal while the police attempt to catch him.


I greatly enjoyed the Ocean movie trilogy and love Danny Ocean (played by George Clooney) and his crew.  I love how each member has something different to contribute for the job.  I love their chemistry.  And I love how they were able to successfully pull off these awesomely complicated, twist-filled, and very entertaining heists (which only the number 3 of this list was able to match).


Catwoman is one of DC’s most iconic characters.  Initially, she was purely portrayed as a Batman supervillain.  However, later on, she would eventually develop into something more of an anti-heroine and even become a member of the New 52 incarnation of the Justice League of America.  She maintains an on-off, love-hate romantic relationship with Batman, and has been one of his most constant allies.  However, despite her alignment with good, her reputation remains that of a proficient thief and continues to dabble with high-end burglary and other underworld-related pursuits.


The terrific Leverage TV series featured fiction’s most entertaining ensemble of thieves.  The team is made up of extremely talented criminals – Nathan Ford (“The Mastermind”/”The Brains”), Sophie Devereaux (“The Grifter”), Alec Hardison (“The Hacker”), Parker (“The Thief”), and Eliot Spence (“The Hitter”) – that have decided to band together and use their skills to target powerful and greedy corporations and individuals that oppresses or steals from ordinary people that are unable to defend themselves.  The team carries out elaborate cons on their targets in order to get back what they stole and bring them to justice.


Carmen is one of my most favorite female fictional characters ever, and playing her games had this deep impact on me that she has become the definitive femme fatale master thief on whom I compare other such kind of characters on.


There is no other thief that charmed me most than Lupin the 3rd.  According to the anime’s mythology, Lupin is supposedly the grandson of Arsène Lupin, the popular literary gentleman thief created by French writer Maurice Leblanc.  He is acknowledged in the anime’s universe as the top thief in the world.

Lupin has a goofy and playful demeanor with a weakness for attractive women.  But under an outside appearance that seemingly can’t be taken seriously is an extremely versatile and intelligent individual.  He is a brilliant strategist, a creative schemer, and can think well under pressure.  He is knowledgeable of using and is in possession of a variety of high-tech gadgetries as well as possesses traditional thief skills like pickpocketing and cracking safes.  He is flexible, unpredictable, an adept driver, and can effortlessly think on his feet – which allow him to escape pursuers easily.  Even if caught, he is also a master escape artist, so jails and cuffs won’t hold him for long.  He is a capable close-combatant and shooter when the need arises, but he prefers to run away from trouble rather than engaged in it.  He’s all of these and more, but his most defining characteristic is his ability to flawlessly take on other people’s appearances.   He is as much as a master of disguise as he is a master thief.

He usually works with master samurai Goemon, master gunman Jigen, and femme fatale Fujiko, and together they form a formidable, unstoppable – and delightfully fun – crew. 

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