Back in the good old days, the badassery of a decade was easy to assign. Think about the ’80s, when Indiana Jones stood as the leading embodiment of all that is man. But anyone who caught this decade’s installment of the Indiana Jones series – starring a worn out, and paycheck-anxious Harrison Ford – knows that the badass times have definitely changed. So which characters from the past decade still carry the rebel spirit? Here’s our picks:
Jason Bourne from The ‘Bourne’ Series (2002-07): Early in the decade, Matt Damon revived the old-fashioned spy thriller with ‘The Bourne Identity,’ the first installment of the trilogy that sprawled across the decade, one hit after another.
The amnesiac agent Jason Bourne reminded us that you don’t need a tuxedo and a martini to make a silencer look cool. Bourne pulled the action genre closer to home, reminding us that despite his Van Damme fa’ccedil;ade, he is just a man in search of a little peace of mind.’
Leonard Shelby from ‘Memento’ (2000): Guy Pearce’s performance as the anterograde amnesiac impressed audiences as much as it baffled them. Covered in as many tattoos as Viggo Mortensen in ‘Eastern Promises,’ Leonard puts ‘clues’ on the only place he could never forget: his own body. As Shelby sifts through fractured memories and acquaintances, it is not until the end of the film that he realizes that the picture he means to put together is nothing like what is expected.’
Maximus Decimus Meridius from ‘Gladiator’ (2000): Maximus grunts, slays and disembowels not just for his own survival but for the same reason that propels numerous badasses – vengeance. Despite having been kicked out of the military, sold into slavery and battled to the death on a regular basis, none of this deters Maximus from completing his revenge. Maximus takes everything that being a gladiator can offer in order to defeat tyranny, despite being cast out as a pugilist punk.
Anton Chigurh from ‘No Country for Old Men’ (2007): ‘What’s this guy supposed to be, the ultimate badass?’ Llewellyn Moss asked in regard to the triggerman who had recently shot him. The answer is yes. With the gait of a creature from a horror film, Javier Bardem conjures up a villain who not only devastates all those who lay eyes on him, but does it with the coolest collectiveness, proving to be one of the baddest of the bad.
The Bride from ‘Kill Bill’ Vols. 1 and 2 (2003-2004): We had never seen so much splatter, gore or grace on the screen until Quentin Tarantino introduced us to the Bride, also known as the Black Mamba and lesser known as Beatrix Kiddo. A member of the ‘Deadly Viper Assassination Squad,’ the Bride once boasted the title ‘Deadliest Woman in the World’ and deserved it. Few warriors came close to matching the Bride’s ferocity as her intensity, focus and will rivals those of the samurai from centuries past.
John Preston from ‘Equilibrium’ (2002): Christian Bale’s repertoire never ceases to amaze. He’s been a dragon slayer, a serial killer and most recently, Batman. His role in ‘Equilibrium’ as a renegade officer in a futuristic dystopian nation is somewhat of a precursor to his portrayal of the Caped Crusader and Terminator’s John Connor.
Although having fallen into obscurity due to poor marketing and box office returns, the film is distinguished by once holding the record for most on-screen kills by a movie character (it now ranks third).
Rorschach from ‘Watchmen’ (2009): Walter Kovacs is a troubled man with a history of traumatic experiences. He continues his vigilantism even after masked heroes have been outlawed by the government, proving conspiracy theories and unveiling government cover-ups with his fists. Think Batman meets the Question.
King Leonidas from ‘300’ (2007): Leonidas’ stand at Thermopole is one of the greatest tactical battles in history. He killed lord knows how many Persians while being vastly outnumbered, equipped with nothing but a sword, a shield and a loin cloth. The guy slaughtered a wolf with his bare hands when he was just a kid. No body armor? Ha. This isn’t ‘Gladiator.’ This. Is. Sparta!
Col. Miles Quarich from ‘Avatar’ (2009): The head of RDA’s military muscle is not one to be trifled with. He’s one evil, persistent son of a gun who just doesn’t know the meaning of defeat – not while he’s still breathing.
The Joker from ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008): Batman is the least interesting character in practically everything he’s in, and this movie proved it when Heath Ledger walked away with a posthumous Oscar for his stellar performance.
The Joker isn’t some one-dimensional action villain with no reason to be as consistently evil as he is. He just wants to watch the world burn. The Joker is psychologically complex and, though shrouded in ambiguity, his deeds never cease to put smiles on our faces.
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Friedman is a member of the class of 2012. Kraft is a member of the class of 2010.