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Cade Yeager. CADE YEAGER! That’s the name on the "birth certificate" of Mark Wahlberg’s Transformers: Age of Extinction character – the latest in a long line of cardboard cutout action heroes with wooden monikers to match their big-screen demeanors.
Where do Hollywood screenwriters come up with the names for these larger-than-life figures? Do they use "Random Action Hero Name Generators" (like this one, or this one)? Unlikely, because I punched my own name in and got "Roger Onion." Not very intimidating, or memorable.
Thankfully, these 10 action hero names stand out from the crowd. They are the predecessors to Mark Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager, the men and women who blazed a trail to marquee-busting hero madness. These are the 10 cheesiest action-hero names from summer movies past. Who did we leave off? Let us know in the comments section below.
Some of these blurbs -- particularly this first one -- contain minor plot spoilers. Be warned!
Ford Brody, GodzillaYou don’t have to look beyond this weekend’s wide-screen release of Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla, where Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays globe-trotting, monster-mashing super soldier FORD BRODY. How amazing is this dude? Well, he’s capable of participating in any mission the military needs, from paratrooping onto Godzilla’s back to rescuing an orphaned boy on an airport monorail. And when only one man can drive a boat containing a bomb that might attract MUTOs into the middle of the Pacific Ocean, you damn well better know that Ford Brody’s going to be at the wheel.
Memphis Raines, Gone in 60 SecondsVery few actors deserve multiple mentions on this list. Nic Cage is one of those actors. Sometimes I think Cage takes certain roles simply because of the ludicrous name of the character he’ll be able to play. ("Johnny Blaze" explains the two Ghost Rider movies, right?) In Dominic Sena’s 2000 actioner, Cage plays master car thief MEMPHIS RAINES, who’s lured out of retirement for one last scam. I’ll go to the grave wondering why screenwriter Scott Rosenberg never let Cage at least one time say, "Let’s make it Raines!"
Marion Cobretti, CobraIf boring character names are the disease, Sylvester Stallone is the cure. The "Italian Stallion" is another repeat offender on the list, but I have to lead with MARION COBRETTI – because of the feminine undertone that comes with naming a handgun-wielding menace like Cobretti with an adorable name like "Marion." His last name inspires the movie’s title. I want to believe that the character’s chewing-of-the-matchstick trick is ALL Stallone.
Ivan Danko, Red HeatDamn you, Arnold Schwarzenegger, for releasing such classics as End of Days (JERICHO CANE) and Commando (JOHN MATRIX) in the Fall, eliminating them from my Summer Movie list! I’m going to have to settle for Ahnold’s Russian ass-beater IVAN DANKO from 1988’s underrated Red Heat. Way back when, buddy cop thrillers were so popular, Hollywood thought pairing Schwarzenegger with Jim Belushi could work. Thankfully Walter Hill – and the Austrian Oak – understood how to wring entertainment out of the paper-thin Cold War corniness.
Hit-Girl, Kick-AssSimple. Self-explanatory. She’s a girl. She hits people. HIT-GIRL. The characters in Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass come blessed with a self-awareness that’s usually lacking in comic book lore. So names like Red Mist, Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl say a lot, without having to explain much. Also, Chloe Grace Moretz sidesteps the Hollywood mistake of making the female counterpart in an action movie the "sidekick" or "damsel in distress," and for all of these reasons, she earns a spot on the list.
Lee Christmas, The ExpendablesAny time you shoehorn a major holiday into an action hero’s name, you are going to end up on a list like this. And yet, Jason Statham’s The Expendables character, LEE CHRISTMAS, is based on an actual American mercenary of the same name, who passed away in 1924 after several missions min Central America. No clue if the actual Lee Christmas engaged in knife fights and other ludicrously over-the-top battle sequences Statham brings to the Expendables trilogy. I’ll chalk that up to "creative license."
Stacker Pentecost, Pacific RimPacific Rim doesn’t just acknowledge the oversized clichés on which modern action movies are built. It embraces them as if they were first-born children. The names screenwriter Travis Beacham concocts for director Guillermo del Toro are no exception. I could have gone with Mako Mori or Hannibal Chau. But I didn’t want Idris Elba’s STACKER PENTECOST cancelling my Apocalypse … er, list of cheesy names!
Castor Troy, Face/OffNicolas Cage’s CASTOR TROY almost didn’t make this list. I mean, it’s supposed to be a feature structured around heroes – and I debated about going with Cage’s own CAMERON POE from the equally absurd Con Air. But Troy gets to switch bodies for a while in John Woo’s Face/Off, which allows Cage to play both sides of the same coin. And it’s perhaps his most gonzo performance. Kudos to John Travolta for keeping up with Cage’s campiness when occupying Castor Troy’s body. The frenetic mojo of the character’s awesome persona forces me to place Castor Troy on the feature. Plus, look at that photo! I could stare at it, and eat a peach, for hours.
Flying Snow, HeroThe forecast calls for blood when FLYING SNOW (Maggie Cheung) unsheathes her lethal swords for battle in Zhang Yimou’s sprawling vengeance epic, Hero. Jet Li may be the hero of the piece, but his nameless warrior’s no fun. We invested, instead, in the assassination plots driven by Flying Snow and her lover, Broken Sword. Spend a few minutes Googling Flying Snow’s battle with Moon (Zhang Ziyi) today. It might call into question your belief in gravity.
Gibson Rickenbacker, CyborgOK, so, someone responsible for Albert Pyun’s 1989 martial arts thriller Cyborg is a straight-up guitar fan, because Jean-Claude Van Damme’s GIBSON RICKENBACKER is just two very popular guitar brands smashed together into one awesome moniker. Credit the Cyborg screenwriter, Kitty Chalmers, for cooking up this memorable Van Damme name! (And for having an equally incredible name, herself.)