Shrek is the protagonist and hero in the film Shrek. In the beginning of this film, Shrek struggles with accepting himself as an ogre. He is essentially shunned by society, and this causes him to really re-evaluate all of the characteristics he once prided himself on. Visually speaking, by looking at images of Shrek, it is difficult to imagine him as the hero of any story. He is not your average hero or prince for that matter. He is instead, green, unattractive, out of shape (obese), dirty, ungroomed, standoffish, and unwealthy. All of these characteristics are made quite clear throughout the movie. In other fairy tales, there is no mention of the hero ever being anything but handsome, human, in shape, royal (or in some way privileged), and clean. Shrek defies these representations, and is able to actually get the girl in the end. Because the story is set up in this way, it redefines characteristics of a normative hero. This film also, "as with any children’s text, [possesses] the didactic implications of film that worry adults. We are all familiar with the phrases, 'this is a bad message for children', 'this is not appropriate for children', and above all: 'this is not good for children'" (Garson 31).
Shrek is bigger than all of the other male heroes in animated films, and being green really sets him apart from his human counterparts. Visually, this is not necessarily pleasing or not pleasing, it just reinforces the idea that his is different. Shrek is also very large. By placing him next to Fiona and Donkey, it is apparent that his size is quite daunting. His hands are massive, and when placed next to Fiona's almost monster like. That is how he is portrayed throughout most of the movie, as a monster. It is the progression of his internal characteristics that really and truly helps the viewer over come the stigma's associated with whatever character occupies the role of the hero, radically altering the perceived characteristics of the hero. Although this is the way that the audience is able to see how Shrek has an overall moral character, the way he is represented visually is really the most important part of this redefinition of the 'knight in shinging armor'.

"Unlike most Disney animated films, which have been criticized for decades for their stereotypical female leads and traditional representations of gender, all the major features released...since 1990 have featured masculine protagonists" (Gillam 2). Visual representations are extremely important in terms of what or who we, as the audience, associate positive characteristics with. The way that Shrek looks is not by any means typical of the male figure in most other animated films; in other words, he is no price charming. Regardless, we come to love him as he is, and accept that he may not be exactly what expected at the beginning of the film. There is one of the three Shrek movies where he is transformed into the typical hero, at least visually. Here, he has what he refers to as a cute, button nose, thick and wavy locks, and taut, round buttocks. He sees himself as more attractive, according to the normative charater we are used to, and because of that he is also more confident. He is more muscular as well, and he has to find more form fitting clothing, which has to fit him better. He sounds the same and acts the same as he did whenever he was an ogre, but he just looks different. Interestinly enough, his wife, Princess Fiona, prefers him in his ogre form. As soon as he transforms back into an ogre, his clothes change back to what he was wearing before. He is again completely removed from all visual characteristics of the handsome prince, but as the viewer, I agree with Fiona: Shrek should be an ogre and I love him for being different. The young audience member oftentimes knows the major characters before ever having seen the film as a result of marketing, thus, it is possible that children may have known Shrek was the hero prior to seeing the film, but that does not diminish the visual power of his character (Lacroix 214).

The movies Shrek and Ice Age have several characters who parallel one another. Two characters who overlap in these two movies are Shrek and Manny, respectively. They are both the main characters in their films and they defy the normal, stereotypical male hero. Also, "their physical similarites [are] remarkable", which allows for parallel resignification between the two characters (Bell 121).