This weekend, modern legend and real life superhuman Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson steps into a role that stands as one of the most enduring and famous not just in movie history, but in the history of storytelling.  There have been dozens of Hercules films with dozens of actors taking on the role of the Greek hero, but the Rock’s reputation and stature make a natural fit between character and performer.

It takes a special kind of screen presence to convincingly portray a figure of religious or mythological prominence. The muscles.  The ferociousness of voice.  The glow of superhuman strength.  The ability to sport a banana hammock with no reason to feel shame.  It all boils down to a unique sort of movie experience in which male viewers feel, at once, inspired and emasculated and women feel… well… let’s just say women feel it.

But the question remains unanswered:  What mythological movie hero has done it best?  We don’t like unanswered pointless questions here, so we are presenting AE’s (Definitive) Tourney of Mythological Movie Heroes.  The contestants and rules are explained below.

Hercules, Hercules, Hercules, and Hercules

We’re holding this tournament for a reason, so we’re stacking the deck a bit.  Since he is the most celebrated of all the mythological creatures, Hercules will hold four spots in our tournament of sixteen contestants.   The four picks are based on what we feel to be the most recognizable and iconic iterations of Hercules in film and, since they’re being treated as the hosts of our tournament, they will be given the four highest seeds.

1.  Hercules, 2014 (The Rock)
2. Hercules, 1997 (Animated)
3. Hercules In New York, 1969 (Arnold Schwarzeneggar)
4. Hercules, 1958 (Steve Reeves)

The Others

The rest of the contestants, in alphabetical order, are presented below (to be ranked by a seeding system in the first round).

  • Achilles (Brad Pitt in Troy, 2004)
  • Bailan (Orlando Bloom in Kingdom of Heaven, 2005)
  • Ben Hur (Charlton Heston in Ben Hur,1959)
  • Beowulf (Animated in Beowulf, 2007)
  • Jason (Todd Armstrong in Jason & The Argonauts, 1963)
  • Leonidas (Gerard Butler in 300, 2008)
  • Maximus (Russell Crowe in Gladiator, 2000)
  • Noah (Russell Crose in Noah, 2014)
  • Orpheus (Breno Mello in Black Orpheus, 1959)
  • Perseus (Harry Hamlin in Clash of the Titans, 1981)
  • Samson (Victor Mature in Samson and Delilah, 1949)
  • Thor (Chris Hemsworth in Thor (2011), The Avengers (2012), and Thor 2 (2013))

The Rules

Each matchup in this tournament will be an assumed fight to the death, man-to-man (or god-to-man or god-to-god or maybe half-god-to-man, or whatever).  The decision will be made based on a reliable scientific formula:  My opinion, which is always right.  If you find that upsetting, keep in mind that basically what I’m accomplishing here is a textual version of smashing together action figures, so maybe just stay back and let me be pathetic.  Or, if you really want to have your opinion matter, you can vote in a separate audience poll below, which will run the duration of the tournament to keep me honest.  Bracketing begins tomorrow, so vote early and often.

Sharpen thine swords, yield thine shield, let thou get ready to rumble!

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