The 5 Most Badass Teams of Famous People To Ever Join Forces
What fan of the Avengers and the Justice League hasn't also spent hours staring out windows or lying awake in bed thinking, "Sure, superhero team-ups are neat, but what about my favorite historical figures? Who is out there to write their crossovers?"
Well ask no more, because someone has finally stepped up to pen those stories, and his name is history. We already live in a world in which brilliant, crazy and influential people have teamed up in unlikely partnerships. The results were usually insane, if not world-changing.
Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla Hang Out, Test Inventions
One was a droll, sarcastic satirist; the other was a celibate mad scientist. Both of them were brilliant and probably a little bit crazy, but in completely different ways. That's why Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla have to rank right at the top of the "We'd love to hear what they talked about when they were alone" list.
"Later, we discuss and solve world crises. Now, we fuck about with lightning."
Twain and Tesla's friendship was forged more or less from geeking out as fanboys of one another. Tesla had read Mark Twain before coming to New York City to invent the 20th century, and the only thing Twain knew of Tesla was his AC polyphase system. As Twain wrote, "I have just seen the drawings and description of an electrical machine lately patented by a Mr. Tesla, and sold to the Westinghouse Company, which will revolutionize the whole electric business of the world. It is the most valuable patent since the telephone."
So when the two met at parties around New York City, the relationship developed like a childhood friendship where one kid has a bunch of cool toys and the other knows a bunch of great jokes. Twain would even visit Tesla's workshop and offer himself up as a guinea pig for Tesla's new inventions.
"Hell yes I want to get up in there."
During one such playdate, Tesla revealed his mechanical oscillator that could produce alternating currents. One of the side effects was apparently some pretty substantial vibrations, which Tesla suspected might be therapeutic. Sure enough, this was all Twain needed to hear, and he immediately volunteered to be a test subject.
Twain leaped into the lap of the machine and told Tesla to zap his brains out. After a few minutes of insisting that he felt like the machine was giving him, "vigor and vitality," Twain quickly realized what he was actually feeling was the machine literally shaking the shit out of him. He had to rush to the restroom, thus proving Tesla had discovered the first and only electric laxative.
Shits and giggles: achieved!
Oh, and what we said earlier, about how we wish we could listen in on their conversations? Well, we do have letters, like this one from Twain about Tesla inventing a "destructive terror." And no, we're not making this up:
"Let's create a great big destructo-button and put a sign on it saying 'DON'T PUSH THIS BUTTON.' It'll totally work."
Judging from the world wars that eventually broke out, Twain and Tesla never got to be superheroes together. Such a shame, too. If there was ever a duo that could have wiped out war if given enough electricity and shit-machines, this was it.
Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli Hatch an Evil Scheme
One was the artist/inventor/scientist/all-around genius who painted the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper and who was perhaps the greatest creative mind in human history. The other was the writer/philosopher/evil mastermind who helped invent modern political science, and whose name became synonymous with deceit and manipulation. It's hard to imagine what Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli could possibly have in common, other than the fact that they were both way ahead of their time and would both appear in Assassin's Creed II.
There are thousands of 14-year-olds who learn all their history from Ubisoft.
Well, it turns out that when you get an evil genius and brilliant inventor together, you get a supervillain scheme. And by that we mean Machiavelli hired da Vinci to help him steal a fucking river.
It would take a man with da Vincian balls to heist a geographic feature.
Machiavelli had a position in the Florentine Republic and was looking for a way to screw with Florence's arch-nemesis city, Pisa. He enlisted the help of da Vinci, assuming the man might be able to invent a doomsday weapon capable of stabbing Pisa with a giant spike or something. Instead, their target was the Arno River, which passed through Pisa as well as Florence. Leonardo, thinking outside the box as always, suggested, "Why don't we just steal it from them?"
Underneath this beautiful river study he absent-mindedly doodled an early version of the AK-47.
Sure enough, Leonardo's blueprints for the operation were a brilliant Renaissance equivalent of the Death Star. He would have irrigated the entire Arno River Valley with canals, locks and dams, rerouting all the water directly to Florence and literally hanging Pisa out to dry.
These are either his plans or the blueprints to a steampunk snake superweapon.
Sadly (or happily, if you're rooting for Pisa), the plan was too awesome for 16th century technology. The channels dug to divert the river were too shallow. When they tried to make the channels deeper, a storm destroyed its walls, killing some of the workers and prompting others to get out of the henchmen racket.
Even though the team-up wasn't successful, it encouraged Machiavelli to leave politics and write one of the most influential pieces of literature from the Renaissance: The Prince. Even more remarkable, it led to one of the most famous paintings in the world by Leonardo da Vinci.
You know the one.
Seriously. That background in the Mona Lisa is the same damn river he tried to divert. Da Vinci selected the Arno River for the painting specifically because he knew it well enough to obsess over it long after the plot with Machiavelli failed. Just as most people have that man or woman in their lives who got away, da Vinci had an entire body of water.
A CIA Agent, a Comic Book Legend and a Makeup Artist Rescue Hostages
One was the guy who did the makeup effects on the film Planet of the Apes, the other a comic book artist who co-created the X-Men, The Incredible Hulk and The Fantastic Four. They and the CIA teamed up to save some damned hostages using a plan that was less James Bond and more Austin Powers.
In 1979, radical supporters of the Ayatollah Khomeini attacked the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took everyone hostage ... everyone but six employees, who managed to escape and find refuge in a Canadian ambassador's home. But those six refugees were stuck in hostile territory, with no one to help them. The CIA needed a way into Tehran to mount their rescue. CIA technical operations officer Anthony Mendez came up with one of the most elaborate and quite frankly ridiculous ideas possible.
"From now on, we play by Hollywood rules."
He'd need help to pull it off. Enter Hollywood makeup artist John Chambers and comic book artist/illustrator Jack Kirby. Mendez took one look at the both of them and said, "Yes, this is exactly the team I need." He called the operation "The Canadian Caper." No, really.
Holy Unsettling Book Cover, Batman!
He knew that, despite the radicals taking over an embassy and declaring jihad against the U.S., the Iranian government was actively trying to attract foreign business into the country. Mendez thus entered Tehran claiming to be an Irish film producer there to scout the location for his (completely fake) sci-fi epic, Argo. To sell the story, Chambers and Mendez created a fictional production company called Studio Six Productions. They named it that partially to honor the six people they intended to save, and partially because Mendez wanted to make Iran feel extra shitty once they figured out what had happened.
They came up with a fake movie script (a script of an abandoned project Chambers had on hand) and had Jack Kirby create fake concept art.
Turns out the afterlife also has TSA body searches. They just happen in the crotch of a giant Mayan God.
Kirby went so far as to design an entire theme park to go along with the movie called Science Fiction Land that contained magnetically levitated elevators, a control room staffed by robots and a dome that was twice as tall as the Empire State Building. It was like everyone involved in the Canadian Caper had a hard time weighing the prospect of being caught with making something as radical as possible.
"Next, we'll build a massive oil drill and claim it's a space dock."
With all the bullshit ready, Mendez entered Iran while his "equipment" was being sent via diplomatic pouch to the Canadian embassy. The pouch, in reality, contained the Canadian passports, costumes, Kirby's art and filming equipment that would let them pretend they were doing movie stuff. Mendez met with the refugees, explained the cover story and assigned them new identities and roles in the production of the movie, to which they almost certainly replied, "No. That's ridiculous. Send the real CIA."
"No. No way this is your plan. Is that a napkin?"
Eventually the refugees got into their "movie people" costumes, disguises that included unbuttoned shirts and silver medallions, and it worked. Their fake documentation and cover story allowed them all the freedom to walk around Tehran without problems before they eventually boarded a plane and got the hell out. It was likely the only time in history where a plan that was legitimately "So crazy it might work" was actually successful.
Argo is finally getting filmed, but instead of a sci-fi extravaganza it will be based on the real events, with Ben Affleck as Mendez.
Andrew Jackson and Davy Crockett Take on an Assassin
One was a controversial and divisive American president who didn't shy away from getting in gun duels with his opponents; the other was a frontier folk hero destined to die at the Alamo.
Despite the fact that both Andrew Jackson and Davy Crockett were whiskey-drinking badasses who loved the American frontier enough to have sex with it, they surprisingly did not get along all that well. Crockett didn't like Jackson's treatment (read: genocide) of the Native Americans, and Jackson refused to buy into any of the stories that made Davy Crockett a living legend.
The first recorded case of jumping the shark.
Even though Crockett was a staunch Anti-Jacksonian, on January 30, 1835, he set aside personal politics in order to help President Jackson subdue his would-be assassin Richard Lawrence just outside the U.S. Capitol.
Jackson may be wearing funeral attire, but it's definitely not for his own.
As recalled by Jackson himself, when he saw the assassin raise his pistol, "I therefore raised my cane, with which I knew I could give such a stroke as to break his pistol arm, and was rushing on him when some of my friends seized him by the collar and pushed me back, thereby placing me in great danger."
"I could have had him, man."
Then, who should come flying out of the crowd but Jackson's enemy, Davy Crockett, not to hand the assassin a bigger gun, but to grab the gunman. Crockett and other members of the crowd put a beatdown on the assassin, while President Jackson himself started whaling on the guy with his cane.
So, there you have it. Hate gave these two men a common ground on which to stand. A frontier legend wrestled the gunman to the ground so that a president could beat him within an inch of his life using a piece of wood. That's American history, folks.
Stay tuned for our next article to feature Andrew Jackson, "7 American Presidents Who Dueled Elder Gods."
A Motley Crew of Entertainers Take on the Nazis in the Most Roundabout Way Possible
One was a children's book author, another was the future creator of James Bond, another was a famous actor. They and others worked behind the scenes to unite the world against Hitler ... sometimes with their dicks.
Allow us to explain.
You really have no other choice in the matter.
Back in the beginning of World War II, Britain was all kinds of royally screwed: The Nazi war machine marched on and the U.S. had no interest in helping for fear of breaking its winning war streak in an away game. But Britain wasn't content to let the Americans sit it out, so they assembled a secret agent group nicknamed the Baker Street Irregulars to nudge the Americans into the war. Since this mission didn't involve stabbing or shooting people, the agents were chosen more for their ability to make friends, charm people and find their way into women's pants.
Casual cigarette smoking was key to this plan.
Thus the Irregulars group included (among others) Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond and one of the few people badass enough to appear in several Cracked lists; Roald Dahl, the creator of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; singer, actor and playwright Noel Coward; and Leslie Howard, most famous for his role as Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind. Their boss was none other than the man who was the inspiration for James Bond, a Canadian soldier, businessman and inventor named Sir William Stephenson.
Half Roger Moore, half mildly puzzled.
The group's main mission was to befriend important and influential people and convince them to join the war effort or, if that didn't work, spy on them and gather enough material to blackmail them. And that's where their penises came in. Roald Dahl became the personal sausage delivery guy for Clare Booth Luce, Republican congresswoman and the wife of the owner of Time, Life and Fortune magazines. Her husband, Henry Luce, was considered an anti-British isolationist, so nailing the man's wife just to spy on him was actually a very important mission. After just a few days of it, Dahl called his superiors pleading to abort the project because, and this is a real quote, "I am all fucked out! That goddamn woman has absolutely screwed me from one end of the room to the other for three goddam nights."
A phrase he used in not just one, but two of his books.
Dahl's superiors told him how crucial his role was and reminded him how he was very literally "Doing it for England." Considering that at this point Dahl was already a war hero for his bravery in the RAF, we have to wonder what the hell this woman was doing to the poor guy that was worse than torture.
Oh yeah, we're wondering hard.
It wasn't all just sexy espionage and cuckoldry, though. In 1941, Franklin Roosevelt gave a speech claiming he had a map of South America stolen from the Nazis that showed that they were not going to stop with just taking Europe and that America needed to get into the war. A lot of FDR detractors claimed he had made that map up, but they were half wrong: The map was a fake, but FDR didn't know that. The map was a forgery thought up by the Irregulars, who slipped it to American intelligence and hoped it would finally convince Americans to get fighting.
The U.K. only pretends to be friends with us, as all-out confrontation isn't polite.
Even after the Japanese cordially invited the U.S. to join the war by running planes into Pearl Harbor, most of the Irregulars stayed in the U.S. and continued spying because, hey, why not? They maintained jobs in the celebrity sector, and Roald Dahl was even invited to dinner at the White House by Eleanor Roosevelt herself because her grandchildren were fans of his books.
"You want to meet them? You must be joking, sir."
At this point, FDR not only knew about the forged map that made him look like an asshole, but he also knew Dahl's preferred method for espionage involved using married women's vaginas as periscopes. During the dinner, FDR casually commented, "I have had a very interesting cable from Winston," which was his way of pointing out he knew Dahl was a spy. There's no documentation of what followed, but we can assume it was probably Dahl sheepishly crawling out from under Eleanor's dress.
Jacopo della Quercia is also the proud author of "Go @#$% Yourself!" - An Ungentlemanly Disagreement, a book that was 99% written with the Wall Street Protests in mind.
For duos that shouldn't have happened, check out The 6 Biggest Over-Achievements in the History of Marriage. Or see why we shouldn't trust da Vinci in 9 Inventions that Prove Leonardo da Vinci Was a Supervillain.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see what happens when Jack O'Brien and Dan O'Brien combine forces (sexually).
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