NEW YORK — On Friday night at Comic-Con, MTV News and its panel of Hollywood insiders attempted to answer a question more enduring than the "chicken or the egg?" conundrum, more heated than a Christian Bale meltdown: Who is truly the Greatest Movie Badass of All Time?
What took place between our judges — Method Man, Judah Friedlander ("30 Rock"), Chuck Nice ("Best Week Ever") and James Toback, who directed the forthcoming Mike Tyson documentary — was one part in-depth film school discussion, one part late-night dorm room session and completely hilarious throughout.
Before the debate could even get started, the panel had to define the terms of true badassery, and Friedlander was happy to oblige. "You've got to have ba--s, killer instinct and he's got to not give a sh--," the comedian said.
Toback went for a slightly more philosophical definition. "A badass has to have his own morality," the director said. "He cannot pay attention to anybody's idea of what he can and cannot do," which sounded great until Nice made a compelling comparison: "Wow, so, George Bush is the ultimate badass!"
In terms of maintaining his own morality and possessing an impressive set of brass cojones — not to mention a serious handgun — it was no surprise that Dirty Harry took the #1 spot. "He was a rogue cop for the right reasons," Nice said.
Right reasons or not, you better not look silly while you're busting skulls — therefore, Khan from "Star Trek" utterly failed the cool test. "The only thing badass about him was how scary his man t--s were," Friedlander said. Nice concurred: "It's kinda hard to be badass when you're looking like Rod Stewart."
Not that doing your best James Dean is the only key to true head-bashing glory. "When you can go through an entire movie looking like a stroke victim," Nice said, referring to Sly Stallone in the most recent Rambo flick, "you're a badass."
John Rambo brought on a debate over another essential component of a movie badass: the reluctant hero who's dragged into battle against his wishes. "They flipped the crazy switch on him," Nice told the crowd. Friedlander added: "They drew first blood!"
Regardless of Rambo's absurdly large automatic weapons, Method Man wasn't impressed: "That sh-- wouldn't matter in Brooklyn. Where you gonna hide in the projects?"
Our #3 pick, John McClane from "Die Hard," proved a gun isn't even required to achieve a high level of badassness. "He did the first movie barefoot!" Nice said. "His feet are bleeding, and he still saves the day. I step on a Lego on my carpet that my kid left, and I'm no good for two days."
Fearless, sure, but Friedlander argued McClane's constant wisecracking is a demerit when it comes to being an ultimate butt-buster. "Did you want Darth Vader cracking jokes?" he asked.
McClane did benefit from having a first-rate villain to go up against, as did Mel Gibson's Mad Max, who nabbed the fourth spot for his battles against bizarre, postapocalyptic baddies. The "Mad Max" films also got props for their patina of realism. Said Friedlander, "It really looked like people were f---ing each other up for real, in the desert, with their butts hanging out."
In the end, though, there were as many questions about who made the cut as there were about who was left out. Clint Eastwood in his Westerns was a top choice for many. "If you can be a badass wearing a poncho, you're the baddest of the badasses," Nice said.
Who else was missing from the top 10? The faux nominations rolled in: Pamela Anderson in "Barb Wire"! Demi Moore in "G.I. Jane"! Macaulay Culkin in "The Good Son"!
By the end of the night, one question had a definitive answer: Who was the biggest badass on the panel? Chuck Nice, sporting a tie and V-neck sweater, articulated the conventional wisdom: "Would it be the guy who's sitting here looking like Urkel?" he pondered before turning to Method Man. "Or the dude from one of the best rap groups ever?"
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