A lot of the choices put forth are characters I don’t know, but I can discard a lot of them because they are not men yet – lots of them are boys. In the comments it’s clear that some people can’t tell “manly” from “brooding, silent, and angst-ridden”. Steven observes (in Don’s comments) that some are metrosexuals. Others even look androgynous.
To clear up the confusion, let’s just start with what a manly character is not:
- A bad temper does not make one manly.
- Appreciating attractive women is manly. Being lecherous isn’t.
- Angst is not manly.
- Being wispy, thin, boyish, or doe-eyed is not manly, no matter what super powers the character has or how much butt they can kick.
- This should go without saying, but judging from other people’s choices it can’t: You can’t be manly if you dress like a woman. A feminine hairstyle is also not a good idea for manly hopefulls.
- Being soft-spoken is okay. Having a high-pitched girly voice or the voice of a boy isn’t.
- Crying for a fallen comrade is okay, but crying because other people “just don’t get it” and “don’t understand how I feel” is not manly.
- Being dishonest, cruel, hateful, or rude isn’t being manly – that’s just being a jerk.
- Being a loner or not understanding others is okay, but does not in and of itself make one manly.
- You don’t have to be Einstein to be manly, but being a moron is a no-no.
Now, a manly character is Alex Louis Armstrong from Full Metal Alchemist:
Being manly means having bravery, courtesy, honor, and gallantry toward women. It means having chivalry, and Alex has chivalry to spare.
Having an excellent physique helps in being manly as well. Alex is huge. Assuming the other men in the series are of normal height, Alex must be at least six and a half feet tall. (Almost exactly two meters.) He’s huge, muscular, and diciplined. He takes his training very seriously.
He’s also a bit of a goof. If you asked him to open a can, he wouldn’t get a can opener. He would open the can with raw, bare-handed strength while telling you, “This technique of opening cans has been passed down in the Armstrong family for generations”. It doesn’t matter how obscure the task – if it involves strength then his family will have a special technique for it and he will have practiced it for just this occasion.
He’s well-mannered. His character profile says he uses “genteel decorum”, which sounds just right.
Alex also has a gift for stripping to the waist and showing off his muscles, which he will do just before a battle, when he’s about to begin work, when he meets someone new, or pretty much anytime he can get away with it. I don’t know how he does it. He can pull of his coat, vest, tie, shirt and undershirt in a single motion. Maybe he uses those tear-away outfits that strippers use. If you mention in passing that you need some firewood, the next time you blink you’ll see him standing there shirtless, flexing his muscles and talking about his family traditions of firewood-chopping.
Alex Armstrong is a manly man.