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Iconic Role vs. Iconic Role: Let the Epic Movie Character Smackdown Begin!

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By Chris Kavan - 12/08/12 at 04:18 PM CT

I love stumbling upon random bits of news that gets my gears grinding in my head. Take this nice little tidbit: when Ian McKellen was on The Colbert Report (Stephen Colbert apparently being a huge fan of Middle Earth himself) and was asked by the host who would win in a fight: Gandalf the Grey or the mutant Magneto. The actor was pretty set on Gandalf:

""Gandalf is more powerful than Magneto," said the actor. "[He wins] every time. The old guy will do it every time. He's 7,000 years old. He knows it all!"

I would have to agree with McKellen on this one: in magic vs. magnetism, I would think the guy with the staff would beat out a guy who can throw cars around. And who knows if Mithril is even magnetic to begin with?

That got me to thinking - what other iconic roles would be fun to ponder. There are a lot of great actors out there who have turned in some impressive, memorable roles. Now it's time to bring out a few fights I would love to see go down (and who I would think would win).

Harrison Ford




Sure, he's played a president, a CIA agent and a (probable) replicant - but we all know that these two characters will forever be linked to Ford. So who would win - a lucky scoundrel who is as good flying as he is with a blaster or a globe-trotting archeologist who is quick with a whip and also improbably lucky? If you take technology out of the picture - I think this matchup becomes much closer (obviously a blaster or spaceship is going to easily take down a lowly college professor - unless he has that Ark of the Covenant handy). But when it comes down to it, in a straight-up fight, I'm still sticking with Solo. He has military training, is a bit more jaded (he did shoot first, no matter what George says) and is a bit of a sneak - he would think of something to take down Jones. Or, you know, call in Chewbacca to take the guy's head off.

Marlon Brando




This is more of a battle of the depravity of man - although on the surface it would seem Don Corleone has the clear advantage - the men and power to take on the most dangerous men imaginable - don't underestimate Kurtz, who goes to great lengths to subdue his enemies - not matter the consequences. Neither man is above sacrificing the people below him to get what he wants - Kurtz is clearly mad as a hatter, however, and in the end, I think it's because Don Corleone is "all there" that he will succeed - but believe me when I say it wouldn't be without great loss.

Sylvester Stallone




Two five-letter names that begin with an "R" - one is a hardened war veteran, the other a boxer with a big heart (who can really take a beating). But can a simple man take down a military powerhouse? It all depends on the venue. Rambo clearly has the advantage in any setting where weapons are available. In fact, Rocky will probably be out of luck unless he can convince him to take part in a traditional boxing match - where he has a real chance of taking him down. Otherwise, the man with the gun (grenade, rocket launcher, whatever) is clearly the favored choice.

Samuel L. Jackson




The man has been in nearly every film it seems (be it a cameo or a full-on FBI agent with snakes on his plane) so picking out the two most iconic roles is tough. Now, I know many people are going to bring up Mace Windu - but the force is a totally unfair advantage, so I took him out the picture to give other characters some chance of winning. I settled on Pulp Fiction's hitman with a conscience, great hair and spectacular quotes and the more contemporary Avengers assembler. As a profession, hitmen are not known to be forgiving or emotional - Jules quotes bible passages before passing judgement, but judgement he indeed passes. Fury has appeared in many different iterations in the Marvel universe, but sticking to just the films, he is man who works behind the scenes - but anyone with an eyepatch is someone you don't want to mess with. Fury himself is not above working for his own agenda and manipulating others (for a good cause it would seem) but his main advantage - his friends (you know, those Avengers). Jules might have an advantage if he sneaks up on the man with his killer precision, but give Fury an inch, and he will win by a mile.

Sean Connery




The worlds most suave, sophisticated spy takes on a nigh-immortal swordsman known as a Highlander. Does Bond stand a chance against a man who has had centuries to hone his craft? The biggest advantage for the guy with the really long name - it's really, really hard to kill him. But, I'm sure Bond isn't beyond decapitation - though he usually prefers his trusty gun. I'm sure Q could whip up something that could surprise his enemy. But an "Immortal" who has been around as long as Ramirez won't be fooled by any tricks. Give the man a katana and I think he would make mincemeat out of the spy. Sorry Bond, but I truly believe you would meet your match.

It was a lot of fun coming up with these hypothetical matchups, and I'm sure you can think of even more. There are a lot of great actors out there with many memorable characters and sometimes it's fun to think "what if..." and imagine the possibilities. Feel free contribute your own thoughts below!


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Anonymous FilmCrave user


Wrote on 12/10/12 at 05:49 AM CT

This is all interesting and fun.

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View Chris's Profile


Wrote on 12/08/12 at 09:58 PM CT

Thanks much - it was a lot of fun! Good choices from you as well - Dirty Harry vs. The Man with No Name would indeed be epic - and Scarface facing another Godfather is golden as well. Travis Bickle is just scary - hopefully Jake LaMotta has been training.

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View Daniel Corleone's Profile

Daniel Corleone

Wrote on 12/08/12 at 09:10 PM CT

Al Pacino
Michael "The Godfather" Corleone vs. Tony "Scarface" Montana

Winner: I'd go with the strategic cold assassin mafia boss Michael than the drugged-up gun wielding maniac Tony.

Robert DeNiro
Jake LaMotta (Raging Bull) vs. Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver)

Hot headed Jake from Raging Bull against the fit innovative scum fighting Travis. Hands down if its hand to hand Jake would win. If met in an alley anywhere Travis has the advantage knowing the streets and his myriad of weaponry.

Clint Eastwood
Dirty Harry vs. Man with No Name

Harry may have a bigger gun but is still no match for a cowboy who wears a poncho with a deadly quick draw aim.

Gotta agree with your choices as well Chris. Cool topic.

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