Last week, the venerable media tome Entertainment Weekly published a list titled 20 All-Time Coolest Heroes in Pop Culture [Editor’s Note: This post originally ran in April 2009]. As with any list of this kind, everyone with an opinion and a keyboard will take issue with some item or another, and we at GeekDad are no different. While we were surprised by the inclusion of many an iconic geek-favorite character, the list was, in the end, still too mainstream for our tastes. As such, we feel the need to nip and tuck, with an eye towards including more favorites from the geekier side of pop culture (while keeping as close as possible to the nature or type of the original character referenced on the list). Here then is our edited version:
#20: The EW list had Sydney Bristow of Alias in this slot. While we approve of Mr. Abram’s first successful show, we feel Ms. Bristow couldn’t hold a candle to another lady spy-adventurer, either in combat prowess or looking good in a leather jumpsuit. Replace Sydney Bristow with Emma Peel.
#19: EW says Atticus Finch, from To Kill a Mockingbird. Awesome character from an awesome movie adapted from an awesome book. But Finch just doesn’t make it into the geek pantheon. Problem is, how many lawyers do you know who qualify to be on a geek favorites list? Well, we can think of one who went so far as to be appointed the acting president of all (remaining) humanity. Replace Atticus Finch with Romo Lampkin from Battlestar Galactica – So say we all!
#18: Batman in the EW list, and that sounds fine to us. But the Frank Miller version instead of the Christian Bale version, mayhap?
#17: Nancy Drew. Yes, she’s a mighty smart young sleuth, but is she geeky enough? We think not. We’d like to suggest her spiritual successor is a better fit for this geeky list. Replace Nancy Drew with Velma from Scooby-Doo.
#16: EW likes them some terr’ist-killin’ Jack Bauer from 24. While it’s hard to resist a character whose fictional exploits became the justification for a change in America’s attitude towards habeus corpus rights, we think we can. In fact, we can think of more than one character as alternate to this stalwart defender of American pie. Replace Jack Bauer with the original Mission: Impossible team.
#15: EW seems to have a thing for a good cop breaking the rules for a greater justice, and in this slot they pick Dirty Harry. Once again, we love the man with the .44mag, but he just doesn’t fit into the geeky realm quite as much as some others might. And if we’re going with vigilante lawmen, why not go all the way? Replace Dirty Harry with Judge Dredd.
#14: Delving back to the classic westerns, EW celebrates Will Kane from High Noon. How about we find another classic “western” hero just trying to make his way in a universe that’s out to get him. Replace Will Kane with Mal Reynolds from Firefly/Serenity.
#13: EW gives a nod towards the classic blacksploitation character Foxy Brown. While we would never want to argue with Foxy (as played by Pam Grier), we still can’t consider her quite geeky enough for our list. But you know who would be geeky enough? Storm, from the X-Men, if she were played by Pam Grier. Replace Foxy Brown with Storm.
#12: It’s only here that EW really starts hitting the true geeky heroes. At #12 is the man who started it all, as far as science fiction military heroes go. Keep Captain James T. Kirk.
#11: EW goes for a little post-apocolyptic, pre-DUI Mel Gibson as Mad Max. We’re cool with that! Keep Mad Max.
#10: Spider-Man was ours first! It seems almost unfair that he’s hit the big time with pop culture. He lived the geek dream: he was a nerd who got superpowers and got to be a jock, at least when no one knew it was him. Keep Spider-Man.
#9: EW gets truly medieval on us by picking Robin Hood. But if we’re going to be talking arrow-slinging do-gooders in green with liberal, wealth-redistributing agendas, let’s at least make sure he’s got cool facial hair. Replace Robin Hood with Green Arrow.
#8: You’ve got to say this about EW – when they get it right, they really get it right. The eighth slot goes to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and we say they can keep Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
#7: As we round the clubhouse turn, EW starts to demonstrate just how much geek heroes have begun to pervade the highest echelons of pop culture. They can keep Han Solo right here, thank you very much!
#6: The man who made the witty rejoinder a staple of summertime action films (even though Die Hard was actually a Christmas Movie), EW puts John McClane at #6. He’s cool, but he’s not quite part of the geek fabric. We really think there’s one other reluctant hero with excellent hunting skills who knows how to get out of tight places who fits our bill. Replace John McClane with Aragorn.
#5: When EW says “Ellen Ripley,” we say “how high?!” No, it doesn’t make sense, but neither would our replacing her on the list. Keep Ellen Ripley.
#4: You don’t get more mainstream pop culture than Harry Potter, but that’s mostly because of pop culture’s shift towards geekdom than anything else, and we’re fine with that. Keep Harry Potter.
#3: Who would leave Superman off this list, geeky or not? EW didn’t, and neither will we. Keep Superman.
#2: No muss, no fuss: keep Indiana Jones.
#1: In the top spot, EW puts the spy with suave dripping from his Saville Row suits, and if we were just talking about cool heroes and plain old pop culture, then James Bond would have earned this throne. But we’re not, and so he doesn’t. The quandary, then, is who is so super cool, and also rocks the geek world like no other? We know who.
Yes, we know he’s not really a spy, per se, but he is an intergalactic (inter-dimensional, inter-temporal) troubleshooter, which is close enough. And he sounds British, too. So we say replace James Bond with The Doctor from Doctor Who (fixed, because Doctor Who fans are very particular).
But that’s just our opinion. Any more substitutions you’d like to see? Let us know in the comments! You never know, maybe EW will amend their list!