I am a patriotic man at heart. I love this country I live in. Despite all its blemishes and past mistakes…hell, even some of its current mistakes…I think America is the greatest nation on Earth, created by taking in the best people on Earth. And on July fourth, we celebrate everything in America that is good and pure and explode-able in the most spectacular and flashy way possible. And so, in honor of our nation’s birth, we present a list of things that celebrate Americana in all of its ass kicking forms. Every one of these things just makes you want to hum the national anthem while slamming an apple pie down your throat, a feat which really might kill you, so don’t really try it.
Mike Haggar. Man of the people. Elected mayor of Metro City. He promises lower taxes, an end to the garbage strike…and tons and tons of ass kickings! See, Metro City is a nasty place to live. So when a group of punks called the Mad Gear Gang kidnap his daughter, Haggar doesn’t just sit there like a little bitch. He rips his shirt off, grabs her muscle bound fiance and a ninja guy and proceeds to punch everyone in the face until his daughter is returned. This happens three times. Final Fight proves exactly what the founding fathers thought. Democracy kicks ass. Most of the time figuratively, sometimes literally.
You want Uncle Sam summed up in one word? Well too bad. I’ve got more than one. But its still a short summary. He is literally the spirit of America. He was summoned by the founding fathers. He has taken many forms throughout the years. During the Civil War he was even split into two entities, Billy Yank and Johnny Reb. Currently Uncle Sam leads the Freedom Fighters, a covert ops team of superheroes that the U.S. government uses to get some crazy ass crap done. The Freedom Fighters include characters such as Doll Man, the Phantom Lady, the Human Bomb and the Red Bee. This is how much of a bad ass Uncle Sam is. He goes into battle looking like a patriotic Colonel Sanders, leading a squad consisting of people named Doll Man and Red Bee. And he gets the job done. Uncle Sam, I salute you.
That flat top. Those military fatigues. Those tattoos. Those dog tags. That sonic boom. That flash kick. Do we really need to explain why all of that combined together makes the most ass-kicking soldier boy to ever enter a world wide Street Fighter tournament? We think not.
What do you do for Christmas? Sit around a tree? Listen to Christmas carols? Know what New York cop and general bad ass John McClane does? Fight German terrorists. He runs around a skyscraper with a machine gun capping bastards left and right and trying to rescue his estranged wife. It’s like a World War II rematch in there. American commando vs. the invincible German stronghold. But wait, that’s not all. You know what he does after Christmas? Fights more terrorists. You know what he does when he gets back to New York? Fights the brother of the original German terrorist. With Sam Jackson no less! Yipee ki yay motherfucker indeed.
What are some of the traits that Americans pride themselves on? Resourcefulness. Improvisation. Entrepreneurship. A love of the outdoors. The ability to use any weapon you pick up. Well, okay, that last one might be more exclusive to Texas, but Nathan Drake sure shows plenty of all of those traits. This man makes his own fortune by finding treasure and doing everything necessary to get it. He will hang from cliffs, shoot down heartless mercenaries, hang from cliffs while shooting down heartless mercenaries, fight ancient evils…you know, typical stuff. Nathan Drake is the man every American should strive to be.
Not you Mark Wahlberg. Don’t…you don’t try to be him. You are an exception.
I would rank G.I. Joe higher, but their movie was…you know. It wasn’t even an American team. It was based in Egypt. Why would G.I. Joe be based in Egypt? That makes no sense. But we are not here to talk about the movie only. We are here to talk about the Joes. A radically diverse group of individuals, the Joe team finds people of advanced skill and intellect and proceeds to heavily arm them. And give them silly, stereotypical costumes. Shipwreck looks like a sailor and has a parrot. Spirit is dressed up like a Native America. Gung-Ho is dressed up like one of the Village People. The Joes weren’t really all that clever with their wardrobe, were they?
Now the best of the best of the best are tasked with protecting the world from Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization which threatens to rule the world. They’re like the military on steroids. They also have a ninja. That gets them on the list automatically. Because ninjas are awesome.
Let’s just start with Optimus Prime for a second. He’s red, white and blue colored. He’s a truck, the vehicle of the hard-working American man. He’s a John Wayne type of character, noble and kind yet ready to kick ass if forced to. He stands up for the little guy, believing that freedom is the right of all sentient beings. He also can turn his hand into an axe, which…well, that has no connection to America, but is damn cool.
Transformers also represents the ’80s in America perfectly. It was a toy that was also a cartoon that was also a comic book. It was made to be consumed and loved by all of us hyperactive young boys. WATCH THE CARTOON! BUY THE TOYS! BECOME A CONSUMER! SPEND SPEND SPEND!!! Ah, Reganism…how I miss you…
Let us also talk about the Michael Bay movies. Not only does Optimus Prime kick ass and take faces in those movies, but the American military is seen in an almost fetishistic light. Those bastards could fly in the last movie. Fly. They flew and then shot Decepticons with their super U.S. military-made Decepticon killing guns. Tell me again why the movies weren’t centered on these guys instead of Shia LaBeouf?
The story of the little guy fighting for his piece of the American dream. It’s quintessential Americana. Sylvester Stallone perfectly captured that feeling in his classic Rocky series. From the first one, which showed the scrappy Rocky Balboa competing against impossible odds not to win but just to last through the fight, to the later movies which showed his fights against ever more arrogant opponents and even the entire country of Soviet Russia, Rocky shows us what it takes to be a true champion. Running up stairs and training montages. That’s what it takes to be a true champion. But really, its not just the winning that’s important. Its the journey, its giving it your all. In this way, even if you are defeated, you can still hold your head high.
While not quite as mercenary as Nathan Drake, Indy does have all of the outstanding qualities that he has. Which would make sense seeing as Drake took a lot from the Indy series. However, good ol’ Doctor Jones also has a ton of things that makes him the best pulp hero ever created. First, he lives in the 40s. He’s part of the greatest generation. The greatest generation! He gets to punch Nazis right in the face! He also gets to globe trot and stop said Nazis from taking things made by God himself and turning them into super weapons. His dad is James Bond, yet he still somehow has an American accent! And that whip. A pistol is a clumsy weapon. It takes real skill to use a whip.
First of all, look at all those flags in the movies. There was a requirement in all the Spider-Man movies. He must pose in front of a flag at least once in the movie. So the web slinger has that going for him. He’s also a young genius, inventive and resourceful. He didn’t get webbing with his mutation. Did he cry about it? Hell no. He made his own damn web shooters. No money? No problem. He goes to J. Jonah Jameson and gives him some pictures. Some pictures of Spider-Man. Now yes, Peter Parker can be a bitch. This is the guy who ends up quitting every time something goes wrong. He ultra-internalizes everything bad that ever happens to him. Everything is always his fault. And this is the guy who sold the love of his wife to the devil to save his 297 year-old aunt who astral projected to him that she’s okay with dying, that it’s her time. But hey, most of the time he bounces back from those things. Does a real American give up when life gets hard? Hell no! Well, unless there’s something good on TV.
Come on. Come on. Like I wouldn’t put this smooth bastard on this list? This guy punched Hitler! Hell, even Indy didn’t punch Hitler when he met him. He’s one of the earliest members of the Avengers. His arch enemy is a resurrected Nazi with, ironically, no skin on his head. But the best part of Cap? He symbolizes everything that is good about America. He is good and strong and kind and selfless, but he also is not afraid to tell the government to go stuff itself when he thinks they are wrong. Yes, lets just ignore the fact that technically Cap fired the first shot of Civil War, its the stand he made that matters. He once made a speech that went something along the lines of making a line in the sand where you know things are right and not moving one inch over that line, even if the entire world thinks you should. That you have to look them square in the eye and tell them, no, you move. That is a man I would stand behind. That is a leader. That is a Captain.
So what does it take to outrank a guy whose name has the word America in it on this list? Well, being the first superhero, a guy plastered in red and blue who is one of the most recognized symbols of Americana right alongside Mickey Mouse and has the slogan of “Truth, justice and the American way,” I would say all of that does it. Superman is the American hero. He’s the ultimate immigrant story in a land of immigrants, a man who was raised in the heart of Kansas in a small town literally named Smallville. The guy grew up on a farm and called his parents Ma and Pa. He became a journalist in order to expose those beyond the reach of the law and help the little guy. He thinks swell is still a cool word. If the make-believe TV America of Leave It to Beaver ever existed, a world where everyone ended up happy after half an hour and a stern but fair lecture from dad, it existed in the heart of Superman.
Oh, and did I mention that Superman could bench press a planet if he wanted to? Because that’s pretty bitchin’ as well.
So what do we have left here? After pulp heroes and superheroes, boxers and Bruce Willis, what is there left to perfectly symbolize everything awesome about America?
Well I’d like to see your country destroy an entire alien armada with nothing but Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and a Mac.