Shadowhunters season 3: The layered heroism of Harry Shum Jr.’s Magnus

Magnus BaneWelcome to another edition of our Unsung Heroes article series at CarterMatt, where we go through and discuss some of the brightest lights of our favorite medium — in particular ones that deserve a greater opportunity to shine!

Today, the focus is on a fantastic show in Shadowhunters and, in turn, a fantastic character — Magnus Bane, as played by Harry Shum Jr. What Magnus represents is almost perseverance personified. This is someone who has went through a difficult, challenging, and almost impossible upbringing, lived a long life before the time of the present, experienced great loss, and somehow still found a way to keep a positive outlook. He remains a hero in the present rather than allowing the past to define him.

One of the greatest things about Magnus is his capacity for smart, nuanced decisions. He is not a character who sees the world in a binary sense. It’s not Downworlders vs. Shadowhunters in the same way that it is often not any other sort of arbitrary pitting of two sides against one another. He recognizes that and has the foresight to realize that through cooperation, humanity and beyond will prevail. Many other characters are more impulsive, reactionary, or desperate to appease others who identify with them on some level. Magnus is a character taking a different path, someone willing to take the scorn and the judgment so he can, in turn, find a way to make the world a better place. He’s concerned with the history books fifty years from now.

Magnus’ leadership and his ability to stop those who seek to destroy the world make him in many ways an inspiration; yet, the same goes for his capacity to learn. Despite being one of the oldest characters in this universe in terms of age, Magnus is not someone who assumes as though he is all-knowing. He recognizes the value of insight and comes around to the idea of occasionally being wrong with some of his ideas. He also recognizes his flaws, and one of the beautiful things about Malec as a relationship is that Magnus can be paired up with someone in Alec who loves those flaws and helps him whenever he struggles. Magnus may face challenges when it comes to opening up and revealing his heart, but don’t we all? Alec remains there for him even when conflict does inevitably arise. The fact that Magnus hasn’t quite figured everything out shows his humanity in ways we rarely see otherwise.

With a character this challenging, it takes a special actor to be able to play the part. This is where Harry Shum Jr. comes into play, delivering a nuanced, pensive, and passionate performance that allows you into this world. A warlock of Magnus’ sort could easily be intimidating but thanks both the writers and the creative voice established by Shum, he becomes one of the most relatable characters in Shadowhunters and one worth rooting for within every minute of every episode.

Related Be sure to preview more of what’s coming on the next new episode

Do you find Magnus to be an unsung hero from the world of Shadowhunters? Be sure to share now in the comments! Also be sure to cast your vote for him to win our Unsung Heroes poll at the link here!

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