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7 Wizards... or are they all the same guy?

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We like our wizards to fit a certain mold. They seem to have the same characteristics in many of our classic adventure tales. A wizard trains or mentors the young protagonist (to whom he is not related), has knowledge unavailable to the general public which was passed down from long ago, uses supernatural powers, sports a white beard (mainly to show his advanced age), and despite his age, he's still good in a fight.


Merlin the Magician is the oldest of the archetype. The character dates back centuries, from the writings of Geoffrey of Monmouth. The version we know best was taken from T.H. White's book The Once and Future King, which was the source material for Camelot and The Sword in the Stone. The other wizards follow in Merlin's footsteps.
Mentors: Arthur, who became King of Britain.
Knowledge: More educated than anyone around him.
Supernatural powers: Engineered Arthur's conception by sorcery, can see remotely, prophesied the outcome of various battles and Arthur's actions.
White beard: Yes.
Fights: Usually by magic only, although in some movie versions he can swing a sword with the best of them.

Obi-Wan Kenobi


Obi-Wan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guinness) was a Jedi Master who became a hermit on the planet Tattooine in order to hide from the Empire and keep an eye on Luke Skywalker. He trained the young hero in the use of The Force when they were brought together by the droid R2D2. His role in training Luke was passed to the much older Yoda upon Obi-Wan's death.
Mentors: Anakin and Luke Skywalker. He was more successful the second time around, which goes to show that older wizards are better.
Knowledge: Jedi training.
Supernatural powers: Skillful use of The Force ("These are not the droids you're looking for.")
White beard: Yes, in episode four.
Fights: He was a master with the lightsaber, but could not bring himself to kill Darth Vader.



Gandalf the Gray (Sir Ian McKellen) made it his life's mission to rid Middle Earth of the evil influence of Sauron and the Rings of Power. Along the way, he advised various entities and brought them together to reclaim their lands.
Mentors: Frodo, Aragorn, and their comrades.
Knowledge: The entire history of Middle Earth, plus a limited ability to see the future.
Supernatural powers: Plenty, including returning from the dead.
White beard: Yes, although it was gray early in the saga.
Fights: Fearlessly, on horseback or on foot.



Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Mentors: Harry Potter and other students at Hogwarts School.
Knowledge: Was educated at Hogwarts himself.
Supernatural powers: Producing fire, invisibility, various spells.
White beard: Yes.
Fights: He spent years battling Grindelwald and Voldemort by various magical means, most often with conjured fire.



Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) trained The Karate Kid by getting his household chores done ("Wax on; wax off"). He's a master at what he knows, and bluffs his way convincingly through anything he doesn't know.
Mentors: Daniel Larusso.
Knowledge: Ancient martial arts techniques, zen philosophy, and a trained poker face.
Supernatural powers: Only a magical healing touch, which was enough to save the day.
White beard: Just the minimum requirement.
Fights: Whipped five teenage black belts in 30 seconds.



You don't have to be human to be a wizard. Rafiki the monkey shaman kept an eye on the pride in The Lion King.
Mentors: He wasn't a long-term teacher, but he set Simba straight on how to live his life. Afterward, he became an advisor to the lion king.
Knowledge: He is the philosopher of the animal kingdom.
Supernatural powers: Could see remotely by gazing at feathers.
White beard: Yes.
Fights: The hyenas with his staff.

Santa Claus


The word wizard isn't normally applied to Santa, but he fits the profile, with the exception of mentoring the protagonist. No one upstages Santa Claus!
Mentors: Nobody in particular, but he won't bring you toys unless you are a good girl or boy. That's a powerful incentive to behave.
Knowledge: He knows when you are sleeping. He knows when you're awake.
Supernatural powers: Drives flying reindeer, packs amazing amounts of gifts, rises up chimneys, and eats tons of cookies.
White beard: In abundance.
Fights: He prefers not to, but was arrested for assault in Miracle on 34th Street, and saved the day in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

Curiously, the character who actually uses the title Wizard (in The Wizard of Oz) doesn't display any of these characteristics! There are no doubt other characters who do fit this same profile. Can you add more to the list?

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Pop Culture
RoboCop Is Storming Back Into Theaters
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Movie fans celebrating the 30th anniversary of Paul Verhoeven’s classic ‘80s action flick RoboCop—which was released in theaters on this day in 1987—got an added surprise today when Alamo Drafthouse announced that it will be bringing the movie back to its theaters nationwide for one night only on Sunday, September 10, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

While the official screening will be held in Dallas, with Peter Weller—the film’s half-cyborg star—in attendance and taking audience questions once the final credits roll, that’s not even the coolest part: The screening will take place at Dallas City Hall, which played the part of OCP Headquarters in the original film. And the building is going all out to celebrate its brush with Hollywood stardom; in addition to a number of food trucks, there will be a full bar serving RoboCop-themed cocktails and a variety of sure-to-be-awesomely-cheesy photo ops.

According to Birth.Movies.Death, which is co-hosting the screening with Alamo Drafthouse and Syfy, each ticket will come with a special prop that will allow audience members to interact with the movie. Tickets for the Dallas event will go on sale at 11 a.m. on August 1; to find out if there’s an Alamo Drafthouse theater near you that will be live-streaming the event, click here. We’d buy that for a dollar!

[h/t: The Hollywood Reporter]

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Helen Sloan/HBO
Pop Culture
Game of Thrones Made a Fun Nod to Harry Potter In Its Season Premiere
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Helen Sloan/HBO

Warning: This article contains mild spoilers about the season seven premiere of Game of Thrones. It also spoils minor plot points of the Harry Potter films.

Harry Potter fans may have gotten a strange sense of déjà vu during last night’s Game of Thrones season opener. That’s because the HBO series’ creators appear to have dropped in a subtle reference to the Harry Potter film franchise—and the Internet, in a moment of truly esoteric nerd trivia, picked up on it immediately.

The Easter egg came when Samwell Tarly, eager to discover an obscure bit of history that could help Westeros fend off the advancing White Walkers, asks the archmaester Ebrose for access to the restricted section of the Citadel’s library.

Devoted fantasy fans will recall that in another world, at another time, a young Voldemort asked Professor Slughorn for permission to enter the restricted section of the library at Hogwarts. The connection? Jim Broadbent, the real-life muggle actor who played Slughorn in the final three movies of the Harry Potter franchise, made his Game of Thrones debut last night playing Ebrose.

It seems that no matter where Broadbent goes, no matter how far he travels across fantasy universes, he can’t escape eager pupils trying to meddle in parts of the library where they don’t belong.

[h/t: Independent]


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