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We Rank the Toughest Action Hero Names of All Time

Kevin Polowy
Senior Editor
June 5, 2014

At the beginning of Edge of Tomorrow (in theaters tomorrow), Tom Cruise is a lackluster action hero. A glorified public relations flack for the military, he’s terrified by the thought of battle. But we always knew he’d turn things around. Why? Because his character’s name is Major William Cage, a name so obviously actiony, you just know he’ll turn out to be the savior of all mankind.

Edge got us thinking: What’s in a name, anyway? For action-movie heroes, it’s quite a lot. A swift, steely moniker strikes fear in the heart of villains everywhere, and makes it easier for marketing execs to dream up increasingly ludicrous movie-poster slogans. So we completed an exhaustive study of 50 well-known action-hero names, all in effort to determine the toughest movie-name of all time. Our criteria was simple: We ignored the heroes’ respective on-screen endeavors, and instead focused on whether their name conveyed the proper action-movie mix of danger, honor, and working-class relatability. Here are our results, in descending order from least intimidating to most intimidating: 

Gordy Brewer (Collateral Damage, 2002)
Barney Ross (The Expendables, 2010)
Sam Witwicky (Transformers, 2007)
Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games, 2012)
Forrest Taft (On Deadly Ground, 1994)
Marion Cobretti (Cobra, 1986)
Max Rockatansky (Mad Max, 1979)
Casey Ryback (Under Siege, 2002)
Lisbeth Salander (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, 2009)
Bryan Mills (Taken, 2002)
John McClane (Die Hard, 1988)
Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, 2003)
Jack Ryan (The Hunt for Red October, 1990)
Harry Callahan (Dirty Harry, 1971)
Harry Tasker (True Lies, 1994)
Harry Stamper (Armageddon, 1998)
Sarah Connor (The Terminator, 1984)
John Spartan (Demolition Man, 1993)
John Matrix (Commando, 1985)
John Matthews (Snitch, 2013)
Frank Martin (The Transporter, 2002)
Paul Kersey (Death Wish, 1974)
Jack Burton (Big Trouble in Little China, 1986)
Dominic Toretto (The Fast and the Furious, 2001)
Frank Moses (RED, 2010)
Evelyn Salt (Salt, 2010)
Martin Riggs (Lethal Weapon, 1987)
Ethan Hunt (Mission: Impossible, 1996)
Lara Croft (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, 2001)
Foxy Brown (Foxy Brown, 1974)
Bob Lee Swagger (Shooter, 2007)
Jericho Cane (End of Days, 1999)
Korben Dallas (The Fifth Element, 1997)
Xander Cage (xXx, 2002)
Mason Storm (Hard to Kill, 1990)
Terry Leather (The Bank Job, 1998)
J.J. McQuade (Lone Wolf McQuade, 1983)
Jason Bourne (The Bourne Identity, 2002)
John Shaft (Shaft, 1971)
Jimmy ‘Popeye’ Doyle (The French Connection, 1971)
Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981)
Ellen Ripley (Alien, 1979)
Chance Boudreaux (Hard Target, 1993)
Chev Chelios (Crank, 2006)
Jericho ‘Action’ Jackson (Action Jackson, 1988)
John Rambo (First Blood, 1982)
James Bond (Dr. No, 1962)
Han Solo (Star Wars, 1977)
Frank Bullitt (Bullitt, 1968)
Snake Plissken (Escape from New York, 1981)