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Conan the Barbarian is returning to theaters this Friday, but the original from 1982 set off a trend in fantasy adventure movies. That was also Arnold Schwarzenegger and this 2011 version stars Jason Momoa. If you’re unfamiliar with the story, a fierce Cimmerian warrior goes on a quest for vengeance, fights epic battles across the great nations of Hyboria against hulking rivals, horrific monsters, and impossible odds. His adventure leads him to the encroaching supernatural evil that killed his father.
Conan is called a barbarian for a reason. He is not your conventional hero; he is a simple man with simple needs to ravage women, kill people, and enjoy three square meals a day. But he is a bit of a brute and not so hot to look at. This just got me thinking about the Hollywood heroes I would never want to rescue me from danger. Here are just a few of them:
Most would not call him a superhero but he has a lot in common with a certain dark knight. Inspector Gadget has no powers; he is just a mortal man with a heck of a lot of cool gadgets to get him out of a jam. His best trick is his go-go-gadget copter which propels out of his hat (because that would totally work and seems entirely possible). But seriously this guy is a middle-aged father who walks around in a flasher trench coat with a prepubescent girl in tow. In real life, Inspector Gadget would be on a sex offenders list. Matthew Broderick, a credible actor, managed to get roped into the 1999 live action movie version of this small screen cartoon series.
The only thing standing between Robin and the title of worst superhero ever is Aquaman (and he never made it to the big screen). Shame on DC Comics for creating such a mediocre embarrassing sidekick to one of the most highly regarded caped crusaders of all time. We know that the wingman can’t take the glory away from the central character, but all that needs to be done is simply make the sidekick smaller, perhaps nerdier, or a bit more nervous in situations. Instead they made Robin – the dictionary.com definition of "gay." The cornball acts like he walks around on his tiptoes and throws flowers at weddings. Ned Flanders has more testosterone. To add insult to injury, Robin is equipped with nothing more than annoying catch phrases that would make any gangster laugh him to scorn. Holy gunshot to the face, Batman!
X-Men: First Class showed a side of Beast many had forgotten about. In going back to the origins of the character you no longer saw him as the astute co-pilot and altogether aloof mutant. Instead we see an awkward young man with giant hideous feet. That’s your mutation, Beast? So needing a pedicure and being able to hang upside down now qualifies a person for superhero status. If comic book fans would be honest with themselves, the only power Beast has is being extra ugly.
Aang, The Last Airbender
I might frustrate some hardcore fans of the respectable cartoon series, however M. Night Shyamalan made airbending look exhausting. For all the twitching, crumping, martial arts, and interpretive dancing, all you get is a small bubble. You practically have to finish a symphony to make a wave move or kick up some dust. If facing off with a real street gang, Aang wouldn’t have the time for all that tap dancing; he’d be toast. Take a hint from Neo and make your moves short and to the point with accents of slow motion and 360 degree camera angles.
This is the only lame hero that is the least bit endearing (because, at least, he is self-aware). Taking upper deckers in public toilets, having sex on gravesites, and shoving celery in your bum are all the marks of a true lunatic. MacGruber may not be the smartest of the bunch, but he occasionally gets it right. Just hope he doesn’t accidently kill you while trying to save you.
Let’s face it. Nothing beats the action heroes of the 70s and 80s. Guys like Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and Willis are the type you want walking you down a dark alley. If you have to go modern, hunks like Thor, Batman, and heck, The Stath will all kick butt for you and look great doing it. But there is always a lame wannabe in the mix like emo Spider-Man or his younger brother, skinny Spider-Man, in the mix to make you wish you had just been mugged and left with your shame. Hopefully, Jason Momoa will render a better hero than marketing and his beefy forehead imply. Judge for yourself this Friday at the movies.