We're more than halfway through the MTV Movies team's countdown of the Top 50 Movie Characters of 2012, which can only mean one thing: it's time to bust out Earth's mightiest heroes. But it's not an actual Avenger on today's list of spots 30 through 21; it's one of the team's supporting players, a brave soul who gave his life in service of saving the world.
It's not just action heroism we're saluting on today's list. We're also celebrating an infinite high school senior, a love-struck Khaki scout, and one of the greatest leaders in American history. Those are just some of the highlights from today's round-up, but stay with us all week long as we count down to our favorite film character of 2012!
30. Haymitch Abernathy ("The Hunger Games")
As the "Hunger Games" resident alcoholic war vet, Haymitch is crucial for the hero Katniss to evolve. More than just a mentor, Haymitch is the mirror that not only reflects Katniss' own strengths and weaknesses back to her but also shows her the person that she could potentially become if Panem continues to be ruled by the Hunger Games. Haymitch isn't just Katniss' ghost of Christmas future — he also offers some of the best and much needed moments of levity and humor in the dark dystopic film. I also like to think that Woody Harrelson reanimated glimmers of Roy Munson from "Kingpin" for the role as well. — Joel Hanek
29. Fantine ("Les Miserables")
Anne Hathaway, you had one hell of a year. You thoroughly kicked our asses as Selina Kyle in "The Dark Knight Rises," and you absolutely broke our hearts as ill-fated Fantine. Her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream," presented in one take, stands out as one of the most emotionally raw moments captured on film all year long. For that reason alone, Hathaway is destined for Oscar glory in just a few months. For right now, it's a deeply moving performance that guarantees her place as one of our 50 favorite characters of the year. (Oh, and spoiler alert — this isn't the last time you'll see Hathaway pop up on this list.) — Josh Wigler
28. Sam Shakusky ("Moonrise Kingdom")
Oh, let's sing a song for Shakusky -- philosopher-poet, hopeless romantic, and the greatest Khaki Scout the island of New Penzance has ever known. Let us sing the praises of an outcast whose foster-kid upbringing has not crushed his soul but given rise to a boy with boundless creativity and the certainty that he's got to make his own way in the world because adults sure aren't going to help him. So let us celebrate Shakusky as he flees Camp Ivanhoe for a madcap adventure with his true love and fellow old soul, Suzy. Wes Anderson's film might be a flight of fairytale nostalgia, but in heroic Sam Shakusky the co-writer/director has given anyone who's ever felt alone and heartsick yet hopeful something we can recognize: ourselves. — Eric Ditzian
27. Abraham Lincoln ("Lincoln")
Just so there's no confusion, we mean the American president and not the famed but ultimately disappointing vampire hunter. Daniel Day-Lewis' complete embodiment of the 16th commander-in-chief earns a spot on our list for introducing us to an actual person, a flesh-and-blood Lincoln, likeable and totally unlike any portrayal we had seen before. Day-Lewis helped us to see the man behind the icon, and in a way, he became even more legendary because of it. — Kevin P. Sullivan
26. Hushpuppy ("Beasts of the Southern Wild")
Though she probably now lives in a tear-soaked part of your memory, Hushpuppy once lived in The Bathtub with her daddy and made us all remember what it was like to be a child, facing the monsters of the real world again. Played with fearless earnestness by Quvenzhané Wallis, the heroine of this year's indie darling won over crowds last January at Sundance and has only gained recognition and praise since then. To put it simply, she's the man! — Kevin P. Sullivan
25. Bilbo Baggins ("The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey")
"In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit." It's a simple introduction, but one tiny character that sets off an epic adventure that sparks many more and eventually two film trilogies. Bilbo does not begin as the most likely of heroes, but the first part of his quest in "An Unexpected Journey" proves that there is a lot more to him than his dwarvish companions thought. He embodies the spirit of J.R.R. Tolkien's first book of Middle-earth: fun, warm, but capable of great things. — Kevin P. Sullivan
24. Queen Ravenna ("Snow White and the Huntsman")
Fairy Tale Land's very own Real Housewife, evil Queen Ravenna's singular desire is to be forever the fairest of them all. Indeed, she'll stop at nothing to attain perpetual youth — including sucking it straight from the gut of her kingdom's unwitting maidens. She doesn't take too kindly, then, to Snow White's scheme to unseat her (and, by extension, stanch the supply of nubile talent). As the maniacal monarch, actress Charlize Theron chews the scenery like it's a big ol' pack of Juicy Fruit — and we loved every over-the-top minute. — Amy Wilkinson
23. Joe ("Looper")
It's often that the hero is also the villain of his own story — it's just never been done quite so literally as with Joe from "Looper," with the younger version of the character played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and the older by Bruce Willis. Willis' calloused and experienced Joe plays perfect counter-point to JGL's cocky yet naïve Joe — making arrogance, self-loathing, and revenge the perfect cocktail for their adversarial relationship. Both versions of Joe are as empathetic as jaded sociopaths can be, but the mastery of "Looper" is that you're not sure who you're rooting for or against. — Joel Hanek
22. Sam, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower"
In a nutshell, Sam (played by Emma Watson) is everything you want in a high school movie love interest or crush. She is classically pretty, smart, sassy yet sensitive, realistically flawed. There's also a quirkiness and element of mystery about her, which makes her irresistible to our titular "Wallflower" Charlie and the audience, particularly as we're further put under the spell of Emma Watson's acting charm and chops. — Kara Warner
21. Agent Phil Coulson ("Marvel's The Avengers")
He's not the hero we deserve, but he's the hero we need. No, we're not talking about Batman, or even someone like Iron Man, for that matter. Frankly, Agent Coulson doesn't need an elaborate suit of armor or crazy lightning powers to rank as one of the greatest movie heroes of the year. All he needs is his stoic sense of humor, his even-handed judgment, his eye-on-the-prize determination, and a sense of duty that would lead him to give up his life for the greater good. Coulson became a fan-favorite character over the course of multiple Marvel movie appearances, but it was his final send-off in "Avengers" that cemented his eternal place in our hearts — and on this list. Although, in fairness, this isn't the last we'll see of everybody's favorite Phil... — Josh Wigler