Underappreciated Moments Of Pop Cultural Bad-Assery
Even the wimpiest among us has a secret badass moment no one knows about. Maybe you confronted a group of Neo-Nazis about littering in the park, or you bravely ate some chocolate off the floor before your dog could get it. Sure, characters like Batman or Luke Cage are admired by millions, but aren't the real badasses the ones who toughen up when no one is looking?
Well, here's some bad news for your self-esteem: Those awesome pop culture icons have secret badass moments of their own, and they make yours look like shit. Here are six little-known displays of ass-kickery that should get their own damn movies.
Darth Vader Is A Stone-Cold, Mic-Dropping Death Machine
Darth Vader is a badass moment. It doesn't matter whether he's choking dudes using space magic, interrupting dinner parties or escorting elderly people to the lavatory -- it's all the same. He's half-man, half-ventilator, all epitome of the phrase "son of a bitch."
What you probably didn't know, however, is that Vader is secretly snarky as hell. In Darth Vader Annual #1, he's sent on a diplomatic mission to a planet that's having trouble deciding whether to side with the Empire or the Rebel Alliance (if you think that's a clear choice, you must live in October 2016). He's met on arrival by a local princess, Trios, and almost immediately makes his presence known by telekinetically body-slamming someone who gets a little too forceful with his insistence that Lord Vader hit the dance floor at his welcoming ceremony.
Wait, so the breakdancing Vader at Disney World isn't canon?!
Vader and Trios then wind up caught in a trap to kill them with lava, as if one of those people wasn't powered by lava. This only makes Vader angrier -- something that he makes all too clear when he lightsabers a hole in the wall, knocks out Trios, and floats down a lava river carrying her unconscious body.
"Oh shit, this reminds me I didn't call Obi's ghost for his birthday ..."
When Trios reawakens, she discovers that Vader had her entire family wiped out (they're the ones who set the trap), and also, surprise! He has a gift for her, the new ruler:
Pictured: Princess Leia's kryptonite.
It's a piece of Alderaan, the planet we all saw get death-lasered in the first Star Wars movie. Yes, he was carrying that with him the entire time. Most villains would have settled for a curt "Alderaan, just sayin'," but not Vader. He's the one who flies into the debris field of a destroyed planet, scoops himself up some souvenirs, and dishes them out like the geological equivalent of that horse's head from The Godfather.
Vader Down, meanwhile, is a series solely about Vader beating the hell out of everybody whilst delivering sick burns. Who's in the firing line? Everyone from intergalactic information brokers ...
... to, like, every single member of the Rebel Alliance, barring their social media interns and lunch ladies.
"And soiled undies."
OK, Disney, seeing as how you're planning on giving us more Star Wars movies than our lifespans can accommodate, let's make sure that Darth "Shit-Talking" Vader makes the cut at some point, yeah?
Batman Beats The Living Crap Out Of The Predator (With Alfred's Help)
Batman has a well-documented tendency to veer off the edge of the sanity cliff every now and again. Which is certainly saying something, considering his day-to-day life involves dressing as a bat, feigning the voice of an emphysema patient, and socking hoodlums in the jaw. Batman Vs. Predator might, at first glance, merely resemble another one of these manic episodes.
This is a Power Ranger and a Ninja Turtle ally away from one of our childhood play sessions.
It's not, though. The story: Someone is carving up the villains of Gotham City, and as the only person who gives a shit, it's up to Batman to find the perp and lock them away in the world's most escape-friendly asylum. However, all of this turns out to be the work of a Predator -- making him, what, only the fifth-weirdest villain in the rogues gallery?
Whilst Batman might have gadget smarts, he sure as shit can't compare to an intergalactic space warrior, and so gets the absolute shit knocked out of him. The fight looks like a done deal after Bats gets trapped under his gigantic collectible coin. That is, until ...
Now we want to see Michael Caine Vs. Predator.
Yep, good ol' Alfred walks in, throws out an unnecessarily polite "Fuck off," and blows the Predator across the room with a blunderbuss.
Heavily wounded and suffering from the effects of an earlier tranquilizer dart (meaning that a skilled veterinarian could have ultimately put an end to him), the Predator escapes into the woods ... at which point Bats ditches the cowl, his fancy gadgets, and goes hunting for him while armed with only a baseball bat. Through following the alien's blood trail, he tracks him down and flat-out beats the crap out of him, in a scene only made better by the pun he casually tosses out whilst Negan'ing.
Predators love puns, apparently.
The issue ends with Batman standing over his vanquished opponent, only to be met by a mothership carrying more of the ugly mothers. After removing their fallen comrade, the Predators hand Batman a special sword as a reward for his hard-won victory, but not before using it to finish off their pal. He did get beaten by some hairless ape, after all.
This should come in real handy the next time Bats wants to murder someone.
No One Stiffs Luke Cage On His Bill (Not Even Doctor Doom)
Netflix recently introduced the world at large to Luke Cage, the Marvel hero whose entire power set is "being indestructible" and "taking no shit." What they didn't bother to mention (for some reason) is that if you ever owe him money, he'll travel the world to kick your ass -- even if you're a superpowered despot.
In Luke Cage: Hero For Hire #8, Dr. Doom hires Luke to find four escaped robots in exchange for $200. Why Luke? Because the robots are hiding in the inner city, and Doom doesn't know any black people who could go there and retrieve them (he admits he has "no black subjects" in his kingdom, Latveria). There are infinite layers of racism to unpack in Doom's reasoning, so let's instead focus on the most hilarious villain introduction of all time:
Luke Cage would prefer if all his villains were called, like, "Jeremy Roberts," "Andrew Johnson," etc.
It's a shitty situation, but hey, $200 is $200, right? The only problem is that once Luke finds the robots, Doom bails without paying his bill. Luke is so upset that his shirt completely disintegrates.
When you spend $10,000 on WD-40 a month, you gotta cut corners wherever you can.
This leads us to Hero For Hire #9, wherein Luke breaks into Fantastic Four headquarters to borrow their plane. That's right -- he wants his motherfucking $200, and he's going to fly to Latveria to pry it out of Doom's cold, shiny hands.
Much like today's movie audiences, Luke Cage couldn't give less of a shit about the Fantastic Four.
Once Luke has flown across the ocean and punched his way into Latveria's castle, he finally meets Doom, who is like, "Wait, seriously? That's the plot of this comic? Really?"
Did he BLANG Doom's head off?
What follows is an extended montage of Luke delivering beatdowns and a thoroughly baffled Dr. Doom trying to fend him off.
"I'm used to fighting much bigger pansies, to be honest."
In this issue, we learn two important things: 1) The secret to defeating Dr. Doom is to punch him a bunch of times in one spot over and over, and 2) never fuck with Luke Cage's money. At last, Luke collects his $200 and goes home, leaving Doom to try to figure out what just happened. And if you need more reasons to love this guy, we present this sequence from a 2008 Avengers comic, in which a certain New York magnate gets in the way of an ambulance:
He's the hero we need, and the one we deserve.
Wonder Woman Literally Steps All Over Batman
Batman's rigid moral code can put him in tricky situations with other do-gooders. Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice saw him go chin-to-chin with Supes in a conflict that could have been solved by five minutes of conversation, if only he wasn't so damn stubborn. If you think that's the hardest time Batman has had fighting another superhero, though, there's one story you should know about:
We can't tell if that's an "OH NO" or an "AW YEAH" face.
Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia pits Bruce's perpetual crusade for justice against Wonder Woman's need to stand up for the little guy/gal. The story follows a young woman named Danielle invoking the ancient ritual of Hiketeia so that Wonder Woman has to become her chaperone, basically. This immediately puts her at odds with Batman, since Danielle is wanted for a quadruple homicide. She killed the drug dealers who murdered her sister, it turns out, but Bats doesn't give much of a crap about the circumstances and wants the girl in jail. All that bullshit, of course, is nothing but an excuse to show this happening:
Right in the batpole.
Seriously, the only reason to read this story is watching Batman get his ass beaten. They might as well have called it Wonder Woman Steps On Batman. Which, yes, does happen outside the cover, and we get plenty of different angles of the delicious moment:
"OK, you can get up now."
"... Uh, gonna need a second."
Now, we're not hating on Batman here. He's the ultimate badass. He routinely takes down immortal beings and actual gods through intellect and well-connected punches. For decades, every single superhero has been terrified of him, with good reason -- and all that time, Wonder Woman could have handed him his butt, but simply never had a reason to. It's like our mom always said: "It's the quiet ones you have to look out for, and goddamn Lynda Carter rules."
RobocCop Has No Patience For Terrorists
This is going to be a controversial opinion, but -- as central as he is to our collective pop culture id -- RoboCop doesn't do a whole lot of badass things. He's the equivalent of a police manual taped to a Roomba. In the showdown at the end of the first RoboCop, he's only allowed to shoot the main bad guy after the dude's been fired from OCP. What kind of '80s action hero needs clearance from his superiors to kill villains?!
But that's the movies. It's a whole other story in RoboCop/Terminator #1 by Frank Miller, which features one of the greatest action sequences ever committed to paper ... before the Terminators even show up.
Feel free to pretend he's holding the head of RemakeCop.
The story opens in a casino that's being held up by a robber wearing a bomb vest -- he's a recently unemployed man who claims to have nothing to lose. The assortment of gamblers are handing over their jewels and finery, when all of a sudden, we see a pair of robotic legs walk in.
Oh fuck yeah, Chappie to the rescue.
Almost immediately after seeing RoboCop, the bomber flips the switch and starts the five-second countdown. So how does Delta City's finest deal with this troubled man? Disarming the device with his advanced technology? Talking to him and making him see that all life is precious and that he may have given up on himself, but gosh darn it, RoboCop never will? Not quite:
It's like the end of the movie, in reverse.
RoboCop picks the dude up and throws him into the sky like a fireworks display choreographed by Satan.
The bomber detonates somewhere in the upper atmosphere, but RoboCop doesn't see. He's already walking away. The fire and flaming wreckage reflect off his chrome helmet. Somewhere with the depths of his mechanical body, sparks flare, hydraulics pump, LEDs light, and a barely-audible ding is heard. RoboCop got a justice boner.
It's unclear how the guy packed 16 nuclear bombs into that coat, though.
The Punisher Kills The Last Remaining Survivors Of The Human Race For Being Shitheads
Punisher: The End is a riveting, balls-out post-apocalyptic story. It is also one of the most haunting comics ever made. The story is set in the aftermath of a nuclear war that wipes out everyone except the world's elite ... and death machine Frank Castle, who happened to be incarcerated near a bomb shelter after punishing his way into the penal system. A year after the bombs fall, Frank crawls out to the surface, despite knowing that the radiation will kill him in 72 hours. He's got shit to do. Prison couldn't make him retire, and neither can the apocalypse.
"Upside: You'll grow a second dick in about five minutes. Enjoy it."
As he walks through the wasteland, Frank and his pal come upon a reasonably comfortable place to camp (a school bus filled with skeletons). There, he gathers his strength and sets his mind in order so that he can continue his mission: punishing. Unbeknownst to us, he knows exactly where he's headed, and whom he intends to punish and why. It all goes back to the Bush administration, because writers in 2004 couldn't imagine anything worse.
He could be talking about the Jeb Bush administration, though.
Finally, Frank finds a community of survivors living a relatively safe existence under the subway tunnels near the twin towers. The survivors let him in ... and Frank, who is starting to look a lot like geezer-Deadpool, immediately returns to his favorite pastime:
"And she reminded me of the Minions."
Frank goes on another killing spree, all the while narrating the world's most terrifying bedtime story in his head:
Why is he suddenly Jon Voight, though?
It's at this point that we find out Frank's full beef with these people: They used a brilliant man to design and build these amazing bunkers in preparation for nuclear war, filling them with frozen human embryos, renewable resources for food, water, and power, medical facilities, living spaces -- everything the human race would need in order to survive the worst shitstorm imaginable. Then they framed him and sent him to prison, where he told Frank the whole story right before dying. This did not sit well with our jolly protagonist.
However, there's a slight complication with Frank's plan to kill everyone: It turns out all other shelters have gone silent. In short, the only human beings left alive in the entire planet are standing in this bunker, protecting the frozen babies of tomorrow.
"Do the babies look like you? This is a dealbreaker."
For most of us, this would be a mitigating circumstance. For most of us, justice for poisoning the earth, taking advantage of the guy who built the fallout shelters, and generally ruining lives everywhere doesn't trump the extinction of the entire human race. But that's why we're all waiters and teachers and writers for snarky comedy websites instead of walking bullet-flavored Pez dispensers.
"We even saved some Peppa Pig videos for babies to wat-"
So yeah, Punisher effectively extinguishes the human race and calmly walks off to die from the radiation ... that is, assuming he doesn't mutate into a Hulk and leap into space to kill all the other planets.
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