Human rights are very real. They protect our right to be alive, to live safely with our families, and get a decent education.
The world is full of amazing human rights lawyers – some of which have even hit the big screens for their heroics. But there are also the legal heroes in our books’ and comics’ pages. They might not actually be championing our human rights IRL, but they’re still a great inspiration, and an important reminder of just how important our rights really are.
Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’ Diary
Image Credit: Giphy
So, we don’t actually get to know much about Mark Darcy’s legal work (though he does, in Bridget Jones’ Baby represent a punk feminist band that look a lot like Pussy Riot, the Russian band who were arrested after criticising the Orthodox church), but no list of human rights lawyers would be complete without him.
While the details of his cases might be a bit unclear, the winning man of the Bridget Jones trilogy (oh come on, you had years to avoid that spoiler…) became one of Hollywood’s biggest English heart-throbs. Not only does Colin Firth get the girl (and the baby), he’s also big on human rights. Seriously, what more do you need in a man?
Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird
Image Credit: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
Perhaps the most well-known hero lawyer of literature is the main character of Harper Lee’s masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus Finch strives to prove the innocence of a black man unjustly accused of rape in Alabama during the Depression and since the publication of Lee’s book in in 1960 and its 1962 movie adaption (with Gregory Peck in the role of the hero lawyer), Finch has inspired many to get into law. Nevertheless it must be noted that lately his legacy has been tainted by his racist depiction in the novel’s late sequel Go Set a Watchman (and some have even talked about a dangerous “Atticus Finch complex”).
Jake Brigance in A Time to Kill
Video Credit: YouTube Movies / Warner Brothers
Jake Brigance shares some similarities with Atticus Finch. The hero of John Grisham’s bestseller A Time to Kill is also a Southern lawyer relentlessly defending a black man in a case of rape and murder.
The story challenges the racism and ingrained prejudice in Mississippi during the 1980s, when the Ku Klux Klan was still much active. Things got even better with the 1996 American crime drama film adaptation of the novel with Matthew McConaughey playing the role of Brigance.
Matt Murdock in Daredevil
Video Credit: Youtube / Netflix
Then there are the proper superheroes. Take Matt Murdock, a young blind lawyer busy defending those in need the crime-ridden New York’s neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen – at least when not being superhero Daredevil.
Marvel’s comics got turned into a 2003 movie with Ben Affleck playing the lawyer by day and masked vigilante by night, and then in a 2015 web television series by Netflix with Charlie Cox being “the most stylish blind superhero lawyer ever”.
Jennifer Walters as She-Hulk
Image Credit: Giphy
Last, but certainly not least, we present to you Jennifer Walters aka She-Hulk. A highly skilled and intelligent defence lawyer, she’s served as legal counsel to various superheroes on numerous occasions, probably as she is itself a member of that gang.
In fact she’s often said to be the strongest female in the Marvel universe, as she has been a part of many superhero teams over the years, including the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and the all-female A-Force. A Netflix web series on her is in the making and much-awaited!
Want to know more about this kind of stuff?
- See our previous piece on some real life lawyers on our screens
- Watch Making a Murderer through a Human Rights Lens
- Try our Harry Potter or Human Rights Quiz