Welcome to MTV News' search for the Greatest Badasses of All Time. All this month, we'll be asking celebrities (and you) to help us decide which 10 movie characters should make our list. Submit your own pick at the MTV Movies Blog, and check back in with MTV.com as we unveil the final selections, beginning January 26.
In the '80s, you usually had to be brawny ([movieperson id="99626"]Stallone[/movieperson], [movieperson id="97862"]Schwarzenegger[/movieperson]), supernatural ([movie id="369154"]Jason[/movie], [movie id="34870"]The Terminator[/movie]) or from another world ([movie id="29025"]Boba Fett[/movie], General Zod) to be a badass. During the final decade of the 20th century, however, the ability to kick butt and take names became more realistic to the common man.
Martin Riggs. Bud White. Clarice Starling. El Mariachi. Jack Ryan. Samuel Gerard. Vic and Vincent Vega. None had rippling muscles or superpowers, all wore their flaws on their sleeves and each showed moviegoers that if you had the resolve, determination and a pretty big gun, you could be a badass too. Hell, even 5'4" [movieperson id="49601"]Joe Pesci[/movieperson] won an Oscar portraying [movie id="13978"]"Goodfellas"[/movie] badass Tommy DeVito — a character who no one found funny.
As MTV News continues our search for the Greatest Badass of All Time, here are a few more top contenders to keep an eye out for:
[movie id="19898"]Joe Hallenbeck[/movie]: Much like Riggs in [movie id="20439"]"Lethal Weapon"[/movie] (also penned by badass screenwriter Shane Black), this main character in "The Last Boy Scout" was unpredictable, quick with a one-liner and miserable in his everyday life. But as [movieperson id="67397"]Bruce Willis'[/movieperson] Scout was shooting the bad guys through a hand-puppet, taking out snipers on the football field, and finding his wife's lover in the bedroom closet, it was hard not to love the guy. The sky is blue, water is wet and Joe Hallenbeck remains one of the coolest movie creations of the '90s.
[movie id="1135080"]Darth Maul[/movie]: The only new prequel character on the same level as the original "Star Wars" trilogy, George Lucas' red-and-black sith wielded a double-sided lightsaber and double-barreled badassitude. Without saying a word, Maul became the man.
[movie id="90200"]"The Crow"[/movie]: Sadly, [movieperson id="7204"]Brandon Lee[/movieperson] never lived to see his final creation become the beloved badass that would have finally taken him out of his father's shadow. Eric Draven was a grieving goth, a dubious good guy and a superhero without any showy powers; to a generation of outsiders eager to dress like the character and look to Draven for inspiration, not even three crappy sequels and a mediocre TV show could tarnish the legacy of James O'Barr's dark hero.
[movie id="31646"]Dr. Hannibal Lecter[/movie]: It took a dozen guys, restraints, a gurney and a hockey mask just to move the guy from one place to another. 'Nuff said.
[movie id="94386"]Ethan Hunt[/movie]: By the time 1996 rolled around, superstar [movieperson id="76079"]Tom Cruise[/movieperson] was hungry for a franchise; he chose well. Dusting off a "Mission Impossible" character from the '60s, Cruise re-envisioned American agent Hunt as a mountain-climbing, lead-footed, helicopter-dodging man of mystery.
[movie id="16557"]Jack Ryan[/movie]: From [movieperson id="3127"]Alec Baldwin[/movieperson] to [movieperson id="21368"]Harrison Ford[/movieperson] to [movieperson id="380"]Ben Affleck[/movieperson] in the next decade, Ryan rarely looked the same. But what remained was the character's fierce resolve, patriotism and ability to make the audience feel like we were alongside him facing those clear and present dangers.
[movie id="90276"]Jules Winnfield[/movie]: The man had a great gimmick (reciting a bible verse before each hit), a head full of Soul Glo and quite possibly found God personally intervening to save his life. This "Pulp Fiction" icon was so bad, in fact, that his wallet even declared it on his behalf.
[movie id="92085"]Leon[/movie]: "He's coming up." Those three words would send a shiver down the spine of anybody, regardless of how many henchmen they had between themselves and the iconic main character of "
The Professional." Quite possibly the greatest portrayal ever of a one-man army — although Leon did have a tender spot when it came to one special little girl.
[movie id="133435"]Neo[/movie]: It's no mistake that the letters in his name could be reversed to spell the "One," or that nothing became cooler in 1999 than the thought of black leather, dark sunglasses and the ability to dodge bullets in slow motion. Sure, the sequels tarnished Neo's legacy a bit — but, overall, he's still one high-flying, rapid-punching, "whoa!"-exclaiming badass.
[movie id="92866"]William Wallace[/movie]: They may take his life, but they'll never take his freedom. This 13th-century Scottish warrior slashed his way through a few hundred English opponents, five Oscar wins and anybody who dared to make fun of his kilt. Still not convinced he was a badass? The dude was hanged, racked and disemboweled, and still refused to ask for mercy — let's see Sly Stallone do that.
From James Bond and Darth Vader to Lara Croft and Ellen Ripley, we need your help determining which movie characters should be called the Greatest Badasses of All Time. Head over to the MTV Movies Blog to submit your own pick, and stay tuned to MTV.com as celebrities weigh in with their own lists. We'll begin unveiling the top 10 on January 26, so check back to see if your pick made the cut!