The Top 10 Iconic Badasses (Who Will Fit in Your Pocket)
They say that good things come in small packages. While a heaping helping of porn stars (and your girlfriend, despite her constant reassurance) would likely disagree with you there, it’s often very true. As these guys prove, when it comes to being a total badass, size really doesn’t matter.
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By Jeff Kelly
10. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill)
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Now I know what you’re thinking: “Luke Skywalker, that whiny little punk? Badass?” At first glance, sure, the 5’9” Luke Skywalker may seem like a bit of a sissy. The feathered blonde hair, the nasally voice with which he so eloquently (and frequently) complains doesn’t exactly scream “badass.” Of course, while you were thinking that, Luke just used the Force to make you repeatedly punch yourself in the face for your insolence.
After all, we’re talking about a dude who brought balance to the Force and toppled the evil Galactic Empire. Luke was certainly not one to be trifled with. To make his accomplishments more impressive, he did so while also being forced to shop for clothes in the Junior Jedi section. Hell, even Leia commented on his lack of stature when he was rescuing her (the ungrateful bitch). I hope I’m not the only one who finds it sadly ironic that the same guy who saved the galaxy isn’t allowed to ride Space Mountain.
9. Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner)
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Whether he was seducing green women or fighting men in awkward rubber suits, James Kirk put the “pimp” in “outer space,” a feat even more impressive when you realize that outer space doesn’t contain the word pimp. The 5’9” sexual dynamo only took his time away from interspecies boinking to kick some alien ass and frustrate Spock, probably by mocking him for not being cool enough to take his pointy ears and the ring to Mordor.
The bottom line is that Kirk never met an alien he couldn’t seduce and/or pummel (and, on occasion, probably both at the same time), and no modern day incarnations can ever hope to step to the plate and truly take the reins from the one and only Shat. And whenever they try (I’m looking at you, Chris Pine), we all know he’ll just sit down those young wannabes, swagger up to his Betamax, pop in an old tape of Star Trek, and beam them up a can of kickass. Of course, he’ll probably need a booster seat to see the television, but still.
8. The King of Cool (Steve McQueen)
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From The Great Escape to The Magnificent Seven to Bullitt, I dare you to try to find someone as cool as Steve McQueen. After all, he didn’t earn the nickname of the King of Cool based on his love of air conditioning. In The Great Escape he told the Nazis to shove it, in The Magnificent Seven he told a bunch of Mexican bandits to shove it, and in Bullitt he told every other car chase in movie history to shove it when he (and his stunt driver) took part in a car chase that, just by watching it, will make you more of a man, even if you’re a woman.
And it wasn’t just his onscreen persona that qualified the 5’9” McQueen for badass status. He reached such dizzying heights of fame and badassery that Charles Manson made him the #1 target on the Manson family hit list. While filming The Getaway, he proved to be such a pimp that he managed to swoop in and steal co-star Ali McGraw away from her producer husband, and in his spare time he tore up the racetracks in his best effort to bring that chase from Bullitt to reality. There’s a solid chance that he was riding around in Matchbox cars, but that’s neither here nor there.
7. The Muscles from Brussels (Jean Claude Van Damme)
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Belgium is famous for precisely two things: waffles and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Aside from being a stupendous ass-kicker who has been known to dress up in full hockey gear and make a game--and life--saving stop, the 5’9” artist known as JCVD would actually be lucky to see over the top of his country’s famously decadent breakfast food.
Despite his sterling acting resume and undeniable talent (when will those Academy snobs finally come to its senses and reward him for Best Roundhouse Kick to the Head?), amazingly Van Damme began as an actual, bona fide karate champion. He posted an 18-2 professional record before moving on to a higher calling in the world of film, but that might be in part because he was small enough to blend in and compete in the under-12 division.
6. Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis)
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There are very few detectives in the history of television who have stomped as much ass, often needlessly and just to prove he had giant balls, as Vic Mackey on The Shield. During his career as both a Strike Force leader and as a member of the LAPD, Mackey relentlessly beat up suspects and actually went as far as murdering three people, including one member of his own squad. Somehow I can’t imagine Andy Taylor doing the same to Barney Fife, as tempted as he may have been.
Of course, the bald, scowling, ass-kicking Mackey is played by Michael Chiklis, of Fantastic Four infamy, who claims to be around 5’8”. Of course anyone who saw him on Fox’s NFL pregame show last year saw that Michael Strahan and the gang could have just as easily picked him up and used him as the football in their demonstrations, but that doesn’t change the fact that Vic Mackey is further proof that even the shortest, baldest, pudgiest guys around can and will exert extreme police brutality. Er, all in the name of justice, of course.