My Vote for the Toughest Character in Movie History

Welcome to Retro Time.  In this blog, I’ll be covering topics related to film and television from past decades.  These won’t be reviews, but rather a selection of memories, thoughts, and ideas designed to spark a little nostalgia and maybe inspire a conversation or two.  Spoilers will likely come up, so please keep that in mind.  Thanks for stopping by, and if you have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to chime in.  I’d love to get your feedback.  Now, let’s get ready to take a look back…

Movie Tough Guys

Since the dawn film, movie tough guys have been a trusted constant.  Dirty Harry Callahan, John McClane, and Indiana Jones are just a sampling of the many rough-and-tumble movie house heroes that have graced our screens over the years.

But which character deserves the distinction of being the toughest ever?   After some deliberation, I believe I have cracked the code.  So here it goes.

My vote for the toughest character in movie history is…

Wait for it…

Matt Hooper from Jaws.

That’s right.  For my money, cinema’s greatest kicker of antagonist booty wasn’t played by Clint Eastwood, or Bruce Willis, or even Harrison Ford.  It was played by Ricard Dreyfuss.  Don’t agree with me?  That’s fine.  But think about it for a moment.

When they were stuck out in the ocean – their boat messed up and their radio busted to smithereens – what did he do?  Did he whine or throw a hissy fit about their messed up situation?  No.  Instead, he VOLUNTEERED to climb into a cheap-o looking shark cage armed only with a pointed stick that looked more suited for picking up trash in the park than taking on the world’s most ferocious killing machine.  That takes cojones the size of basket balls if you ask me.  And not only that, when Jaws inevitably busted through that piece-of-junk cage to get at him, did he panic?  No.  Did he curl into a ball and let Jaws gulp him down like a human bonbon?  Hell to the no.  Rather than lining up to be a hot lunch, he whipped out his trusty knife and went all Joe Pesci on its mammoth snout.  Now, you might be a badass.  But you’re not take on a twenty-five foot Great White with a six-inch k-bar level badass.

Sure, we all know that Brodie ultimately blew Jaws up with the oxygen tank, and kudos to him for doing so.  But let’s face it.  That was a lucky shot.  If he’d have ended up in the water, he’d have been fish food for sure.  Hooper, on the other hand, was practically the only character in the whole film who went toe to toe against Jaws and didn’t get eaten.

Still not convinced?  Then consider this.  Earlier in the film, during the dinner scene in Brodie’s house, he explained to Brodie’s wife how he first got into the shark biz.  He tells the story of how he was out on his new fishing boat when he was a kid and accidentally reeled in a shark that ate his boat all up and forced him to swim to shore for safety.  After going through that traumatic experience, did he develop a crippling phobia centered on the ocean and sharks? No.  Did his spend years in therapy, struggling to keep the nightmares at bay?  Nope.  Instead, he decided to make it his LIFE’S WORK.

If that’s not badass, then I don’t know what is.

But in case you’re still on the fence, here are a few honorable mentions: he cut open a tiger shark to see if it had the remains of a little boy in it, he dove down to investigate that derelict boat with the corpse-face in its haul – knowing that there was a killer shark in the area, and he totally schooled the mayor when he refused to close the beach.

So there you have it.

Dirty Harry.  John McClane.  Indiana Jones.  And now, Matt Hooper.

What do you think?  Am I on to something, or am I just telling fish stories.  And if so, who would you like to see inducted into the movie tough guy hall of fame?  Sound off below.