Michael Corleone is the main protagonist of Mario Puzo's novel 'The Godfather'. In the three Godfather films, directed by Francis F. Coppola, Michael was played by Al Pacino, for which he was nominated twice for Academy Awards.

Michael is the youngest son of Vito Corleone (played by Marlon Brando), a Sicilian immigrant who builds a Mob empire. After his father's death, Michael is forced to succeed him as the Don of the family. Unlike his two older brothers, Fredo and Santino Corleone (played by John Cazale and James Caan), Michael always denied any participation in the Corleone "family affairs", wanting to lead a quieter and Americanized life. Vito also didn't want Michael to join the Corleone criminal empire, and he preferred his favorite son to enter politics, trying to gain more influence in American political life. Michael Corleone attended Dartmouth College after his father pulled strings to get him admitted, and then withdrew to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, when the United States enters World War II, Michael rejected his father's attempt to postpone enlistment. During the war, he fought on battlefields in the Pacific and Europe and was wounded in battle. He received a battlefield commission for the rank of captain and was awarded the Silver Star for bravery.

In June 2003, the American Film Institute recognized Michael Corleone as the eleventh most iconic villain in film history, although some critics consider him a tragic hero.

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