Home Alone’s Kevin McCallister Is a Mary Sue, Accept It
He's one of the original Mary Sues. Or Gary Stu, if you prefer.
It is a truth not universally acknowledged that male characters are, on the whole, more likely to be Mary Sues than female characters. Think about it. How many nearly flawless male protagonists exist who excel at everything by merit of their existing, who prove themselves heroic and badass by sheer luck and foolishness?
James Kirk, for example, is a total Mary Sue. Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter also probably fall into that sweet Sue category, and our Christmas Sue is, of course, Kevin McCallister of the Home Alone films.
For those who have never seen Home Alone or the sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Kevin is a precocious elementary schooler who gets either left behind at home while his family takes a trip to France, or accidentally winds up on the wrong plane and heads to New York City on his own on a family trip to Florida. While on his own, he gets into all sorts of mischief as he tries to fend off the decidedly evil Wet Bandits from either robbing his home or robbing a toy store via elaborate traps that could probably kill someone.
Naturally, he succeeds. If you consider that a spoiler, I have some news for you about holiday films.
Kevin is, without a doubt, a Sue of the highest degree. His annoying behavior is presented as endearing as he deals with a family that just doesn’t understand him. In both films, his family is shown to be either outright nasty towards him via big brother Buzz or rude Uncle Frank, or vaguely neglectful via his put-upon mother, Kate, who is trying to manage a houseful of family.
Despite the fact that Kevin is shown to be fairly useless at times—he’s a second grader, yes, but he doesn’t know how to pack a suitcase?—and frustratingly precocious at others, his annoyingness is shown to be a cutesy trait based on the behavior of his family.
Once he’s on his own, Kevin never falls apart or really freaks out. Instead, he just powers on merrily, happy to be free of his family. He sneaks his way into the Plaza Hotel in Lost in New York and manages to score a limo ride around the city. I don’t know about you all, but while I was a pretty big smartass when I was in elementary school, I definitely couldn’t hack my way into a major hotel with my dad’s stolen credit card. That takes some serious Sue skill.
And then there’s his ability to outwit the Wet Bandits. Sure, Harry and Marv are not the brightest bulbs on the Christmas tree, but Kevin outwits them with a series of traps that require way more time and attention than a child usually possesses. He literally blows Harry’s hat up in Lost In New York, and let’s not talk about the tar and nail trick, plus that tarantula, in the first film. Seriously, the boy couldn’t be more of a Mary Sue than if his favorite fictional characters showed up and told him how great he was.
Kevin also has a softer side, in which he endearingly brightens up the lives of two scary adults who frighten him at first, but reveal themselves to be as lonely as he is. In the first film, it’s Marley, who Buzz says is a murderer but who’s really just a lonely old man who wants to connect with his son. In the sequel, it’s the Pigeon Lady, who has no family and just wants someone to remember her.
Both are heartwarming scenes that show that everyone, except for the villains, really does love Kevin.
This is all not to say that Kevin is a trash character, or the films are worthless. I personally love them, and they’re essential holiday viewing, but as we enter the infinite cycles of referring to women as Mary Sues, it’s important to reflect on the male characters who are equally Sue-esque. We love a good male hero, but if a woman dares to have the same vague narrative ease that they have, suddenly she’s a Sue, and that’s just not fair.
Kevin is one of the OG Mary Sues, and we have to accept that as part of holiday tradition. It’s more fun to embrace his Sue-ness and celebrate that precocious little fellow that way than it is to just say he’s anything but. So, ring in the holidays with your favorite Mary Sue this year.
(image: 20th Century Fox)
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