For almost a decade, people have been lamenting the death of the action hero. Some blame it on superheroes and others blame it on the questionable overuse of the PG-13 rating. There are even some who think that the demand for YA adaptations is forcing the “traditional” action hero to acknowledge his time has passed. Regardless, I’m here to remind you that the action hero hasn’t vacated, no. Uncharacteristically, he went and got a makeover.
Errol Flynn, Bruce Lee, and Robert Downey, Jr. What do they all have in common? They are all action heroes. In this post-Schwarzenegger world, it is easy to forget that action heroes have long been available in all shapes and sizes. They can be cowboys (John Wayne), cops (Steve McQueen), or superheroes (Scarlett Johannson). It would seem that the only true requirement to being an action star is the ability to make the audience trust that the hero won’t break a sweat when his/her back is up against a wall. When they fail at that, then we have a problem.
It just so happens that I have twenty, steadily working action heroes (and villains) below. Each have made their presence known in various hard-hitting genres over the last 5 years (our cut-off for the modern era). And all of them totally saved the day.
Are you going to tell these folks that they aren’t Action A Go Go Approved?
20. Scarlett Johansson
Street cred: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Iron Man 2, The Spirit, The Prestige, The Island
Which of her films are AAGG approved: Marvel’s the Avengers
19. Vin Diesel
Street cred: XXX, Guardians of the Galaxy, Riddick, Babylon AD, The Chronicles of Riddick, Knockaround Guys, Saving Private Ryan
Which of his films are AAGG approved? Boiler Room
18. Christian Bale
Street cred: Out of the Furnace, Terminator Salvation, 3:10 to Yuma, The Prestige, Equilibrium, American Psycho, and The Dark Knight Trilogy,
Which of his films are AAGG approved? The Fighter
17. Milla Jovovich
Street cred: The Resident Evil franchise, The Three Musketeers, .45, Ultraviolet.
Which of her films are AAGG approved? The Fifth Element
16. Sam Worthington
Street cred: Clash of the Titans, Wrath of the Titans, Avatar, Terminator: Salvation, Man on a Ledge.
Which of his films are AAGG approved? The Debt (2010)
15. Lena Headey
Street cred: 300, 300: Rise of an Empire, Game of Thrones, The Purge, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, The Contractor.
Which of her films are AAGG approved? Dredd (2012) and 300 (2006)
14. Tony Jaa
Street cred: Fast and Furious 7, A Man Will Rise, The Bodyguard.
Which of his films are AAGG approved? Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior (2003) and The Protector (2005)
13. Tom Hardy
Street cred: Mad Max: Fury Road, RocknRolla, The Dark Knight Rises, Warrior, Inception, Lawless, This Means War, Sucker Punch, Black Hawk Down, Star Trek: Nemesis, Layer Cake.
Which of his films are AAGG approved? Bronson (2008)
12. Chris Pine
Street cred: Star Trek into Darkness, Smokin’ Aces, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, This Means War.
Which of his films are AAGG approved? Unstoppable (2010) and Star Trek (2009)
11. Chris Evans
Street cred: Snowpiercer, Captain America: The First Avenger, Marvel’s The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Losers, Fantastic Four, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, The Iceman, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Street Kings, Cellular.
Which of his films are AAGG approved? Push (2009) and Sunshine (2007)
10. Gina Carano
Street cred: Haywire, Almost Human, Blood & Bone, In the Blood, and the female face of mixed martial arts.
Which of her films are AAGG approved? Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
9. Henry Cavill
Street cred: The Man from UNCLE, Man of Steel, Stardust, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Tudors.
Which of his films are AAGG approved? The Immortals (2011)
8. Paul Walker
Street cred: Varsity Blues, The Death and Life of Bobby Z, Takers, Vehicle 19, Brick Mansions, and the Fast and Furious series
Which of his films are AAGG approved? Joy Ride
7. Karl Urban
Street cred: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Doom, Priest, Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness, Red, The Bourne Supremacy, Riddick, Chronicles of Riddick, Almost Human.
Which of his films are AAGG approved? Dredd (2012)
6. Daniel Craig
Street cred: Skyfall, Defiance, Quantum of Solace, Casino Royale, Cowboys & Aliens, Munich, Archangel, Layer Cake, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
Which of his films are AAGG approved: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Layer Cake
5. Channing Tatum
Street cred: Jupiter Ascending, GI Joe: Retaliation, Fighting, Public Enemies, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, White House Down, 21 Jump Street
Which of his films are AAGG approved? White House Down (2013)
4. Michelle Rodriguez
Street cred: Girl Fight, Machete Kills, Machete, Avatar, Lost, S.W.A.T., Battle Los Angeles, Bloodrayne, Halo 2.
Which of her films are AAGG approved? The Fast and Furious franchise
3. Iko Uwais
Street cred: The Raid 2: Berandal, Man of Tai Chi, Merantau
Which of his films are AAGG approved? The Raid: Redemption (2011)
2. Chris Hemsworth
Street cred: Thor, Thor 2: The Dark World, Marvel’s The Avengers, Snow White and the Huntsman, Star Trek (2009), Red Dawn (2012), The Cabin in the Woods.
Which of his films are AAGG approved? Rush (2013)
1. The Rock
Street cred: Hercules, Fast & Furious 7, Fast & Furious 6, Fast Five, GI Joe: Retaliation, Snitch, The Scorpion King, Walking tall, The Other Guys, Doom, Beyond the Mat, The Mummy Returns, Faster, The Rundown, and the former WWE heavyweight champion of the world.
Which of his films are AAGG approved? Pain and Gain (2013)
Troy-Jeffrey Allen writes about action/adventure for Action A Go Go. He is a comic book writer whose works include Bamn, The Magic Bullet, Dr. Dremo’s Taphouse of Tall Tales, and the Harvey Award nominated District Comics. In addition, Allen has been a contributing writer for ComicBookBin.com, OfNote Magazine, and ForcesOfGeek.com. His work has been featured in the City Paper, The Baltimore Sun, Bethesda Magazine, The Examiner, and The Washington Post.