With the release of Mockingjay: Part 1 and Katniss’s badass new battle armor, what better time to look back at some of the best battle armor in movie history?
Criteria: Not all the chosen battle armor is armor in the traditional sense. What I’m looking for is what best represents an extension of the hero and what they stand for. I limited myself to one superhero otherwise this entire list would just be comprised of a bunch of capes.
Katniss: Mockingjay Armor
The symbol of the fictional Mockingjay has becomes synonymous with the entire Hunger Games franchise. In the series, Katniss Everdeen embodies the symbol of defiance against President Snow and the Capital, effectively igniting a revolution and changing the course of a nation. Lenny Kravitz (as Lenny Kravitz) designed two Mockingjay outfits for Katniss. One in Catching Fire as an act of defiance against the government. The second was made posthumously (Cinna’s designs were handed to a devilishly good Phillip Seymour Hoffman) in Mockingjay Part 1. The black feathers from her dress in Catching Fire are now replaced with battle hardened shoulder pads protective plating. She’s finally embracing herself as a symbol of rebellion but looking good while doing it.
Aragon: Armor at the Black Gate
I wasn’t sure what else to call it. Anyways, Aragorn’s armor at the Black Gate is the first time we see this rugged swashbuckler clean himself up and look like a proper heir to the throne of Gondor. Aragorn finally becomes the man he was born to be by leading men into a final battle with the ultimate evil. The armor isn’t too clean (Aragorn is a dirt-under-his-fingernails type of guy), but it breathes a certain regality that comes with the King of Gondor territory. Accessories include: fellowship, the climax of an emotional trilogy, and a broken Elvis blade.
Mako Mori + Raleigh Beckett = Gypsy Danger
Another more recent addition to the list, Pacific Rim kicks ass. It’s got an ethnically diverse cast with the message of teamwork and cooperation, all while giant robots use elbow rockets to punch giant monsters in the face. This one might be cheating because it’s technically a giant robot/mech suit. I get that complaint. But it still counts because it’s a giant robot/mech suit that our heroes in Pacific Rim wear into battle to punch monsters in the face with elbow rockets. You feel every step this giant armor takes with thunderous footsteps and each monster smackdown feels like a show stopping number.
John McClane: Everyman Clothes
Die Hard is the greatest action movie and the greatest Christmas movie. One thing that separates it from every other action franchise is the way John McClane is handled in several of the movies. (Let’s avoid the Die Hard 5 discussion.) McClane is no different from you or me. He gets angry. He likes to drink. He dresses casually to 1% Christmas parties that are taken over by classy German terrorists bank robbers. He doesn’t even get a chance to put on shoes before the action kicks off at Nakatomi plaza. McClane is only armed with a clean athletic shirt. Spoiler: It looks like THIS by the end of the movie.
McClane’s relatability as an ordinary person caught in an extraordinary situation is never better exemplified by his dress down appearance. His hangover in Die Hard with a Vengeance comes in close second.
Rita Vrataski + William Cage = Battle Suit
If you know anything about me, you know I won’t shut the hell up about Edge of Tomorrow. It has the best final shot of 2014 (something ONLY Tom Cruise could pull off), Emily Blunt fights aliens with a helicopter blade that she uses as a sword, and it is probably the best video game movie. The marketing did this movie no justice as it came across generic and forgettable. The exo-skeleton battle armor in this movie isn’t all too original, but it still bolsters the characters. Cruise stars as William Cage, a PR officer with no experience on the front lines. Over the course of the movie, Blunt’s Rita Vrataski mentors Cage to fight with the exo-skeleton, learning the ins and outs of the technology. Cage overcomes his fear of death on the battlefield by using his battle armor as an extension of himself (the positives of being given multiple chances at life).
Ellen Ripley: Power Loader
What’s the best way to prove your love to a surrogate daughter? Blow up a xenomorph hive and fist fight the queen of said xenomorph hive with future workplace equipment. Ellen Ripley was established as a blue collar worker in Ridley Scott’s original Alien, so the idea of her being able to handle a power loader isn’t just a random element thrown in for a cool fight sequence (though that does help). Aliens is about Ripley fighting back against the space hell beast that is the xenomorph population. There’s no better way than to settle a dispute than to have Ripley suit up in a power loader to beat the snot out of an angry queen.
Steve Rogers: The First Avenger
You can’t not have a list of great battle armors and not include a superhero. It’s arguably the most important aspect of a superhero to have them reach iconic levels. There have been countless visually appealing superhero armors. None reach the levels of importance that Captain America: The Winter Soldier bestows upon its own hero. Steve Rogers did away with the red, white, and blue to trade in a tactical SHIELD uniform. Once SHIELD betrays Rogers, Cap ditches a uniform for the majority of The Winter Soldier’s runtime because he’s questioning where his ideals belong in our modern world. Once Hydra’s ultimate plan is revealed, Captain Rogers decides it’s time to dust off an old outfit. If you’re going to fight a war, you’ve got to wear a uniform.