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"Whereas most heroes are marked by complacency at the beginning, they are ultimately called into action by a stark necessity"

"stark" as an adjective have several meaning. What's it expressed when is go with "necessity" as above.

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Here stark as an adjective means things like- utter, sheer, absolute, extreme.

Thus, your sentence means to say that heroes are ultimately called into action by an extremely demanding situation.

Think of Bruce Banner turning into the Hulk when he was called into action to fight Tim Roth at the end, in The Incredible Hulk. That is a stark necessity (in a sense- because truly speaking, he was already the hulk before, but you get the point!).

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  • I think Iron Man would be a better example of a hero with Stark necessities. Oct 23 '14 at 14:40
  • I'd disagree, something can be stark without being extreme. It would be more accurate to say 'obvious'
    – Jon Story
    Oct 23 '14 at 15:23
  • Stark isn't really obvious. At least, not in the sense used in OP's sentence. See TRomano's comment in their answer for why it isn't. Oct 23 '14 at 23:03
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"Stark" means that something is clear to the eye, readily discerned, with clear outlines. Sharp contrast.

Used figuratively, as in "stark necessity", it means that a situation has resolved into one that requires a go/no-go decision. It becomes "black-and-white" i.e. fine distinctions or moral quibbles are gone. There are no "shades of gray".

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    Or to use a single word: obvious. An obvious necessity. Stark in this context suggests the necessity is so obvious as to require no further explanation.
    – Jon Story
    Oct 23 '14 at 15:23
  • I think there's more to it than mere obviousness in "stark necessity". There's also a harshness, a blunted reality; the situation has become one in which further nuanced reflection on the matter is impossible; the situation demands action. Oct 23 '14 at 15:58

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