Many think the sidekicks a thankless role, typically filled by an actor waiting for his moment. But the sidekick... the wingman... in many cases is the more coveted role. For one, the pressure is off. They're the comic relief, the ones not doing the heavy lifting, but the ones who show friends they can fit the bill happily, without grievance—these are the men who need be celebrated. Here are six admirable ones.
1. John C. Reilly /Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby: John C. Reilly has played second banana to Will Ferrell before, but in Step Brothers he was no sidekick. If anything, Ferrell was his. But here, Cal Naughton, one half of the Shake and Bake car-racing duo, sees Reilly so chomping at the bit for his chance at the title he comes right out and asks for it. Then he just marries best pal Ricky's wife, hilariously oblivious to how wrong it is. Sure, he has his moment of sidekick doubt, but it's just that: a moment.
2. Jude Law/Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes: Watson might be the quintessential sidekick, but not in the hands of deft comedic actor Law. And his Holmes is played by none other than Robert Downey, Jr. Not exactly the easiest guy to steal a scene from! It's all done with a wink and a nod, a glimmer in Law's eye, fighting alongside Holmes in meticulously choreographed fight scenes. Oh yeah, this Watson doesn't get knocked out, leaving Holmes to solve the case, like many who played the role before Law. He even helps in the solving, if he's not risking his life to buy Holmes more time to do so—which is basically the job description of the sidekick.
3. Anthony Mackie/Falcon in Captain America: Mackie could have easily gotten lost in the shuffle of The Winter Soldier, the film where he first appeared as 70s superhero Falcon, aka Sam Wilson. After all, Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow and Sebastian Stan's Winter Soldier were also on screen much of the time, if not more. From there it only got more crowded. Civil War saw him surrounded by even more popular Marvel superheroes, including Iron Man and Hawkeye, plus a brand new Spider-Man movie was introduced. Through it all Mackie has played the role with grit, loyalty and even a smidge of self-deprecation—a must as far as sidekick trait's are concerned. I mean, they threw him a cameo in the Ant-Man movie, and Paul Rudd's Ant-Man handed him his ass. But it's when Mackie reminds Cap for the umpteenth time that where he goes, his Falcon won't be far behind that the wings are repeatedly earned.
4. Vince Vaughn/Wedding Crashers: The wingman of all wingmen. Case closed. He takes on the craziest of gals, spends the night in her family's mansion after taking a beating playing football on the front lawn, only to have her own brother crawl into bed with him, and forges ahead on day two, breaking all of the wedding crasher rules (and there are LOTS of them). Why? Not because Owen Wilson's character is someone who Vaughn's has looked after his whole life, to the point of having sleepovers on Wilson's birthday every year since they were kids—and are now full-fledged adults—just so he won't be alone. Sure, he does that but that's not why he endures the madness. It's not even because his buddy has full-on fallen in love (which, if memory serves, might break rule #1). It's just because he loves him. The perfect merging of wingman and sidekick.
5. Steve Carell/Brick in the Anchorman Trilogy: That's right: I'm angling for a third one! Anyway, Carell's simpleton weatherman, Brick, might just be this generation's Lenny, a la Of Mice & Men, and what of it? He's loyal to a fault, to scared of everything to ever truly be scary, and might accidentally hurt someone on occasion. With a trident. The Anchorman crew might reek of posse, and come off as a variation on the Entourage theme (even though it preceded the HBO series), but Ron Burgundy's other boy's are willing to walk away—even if one is totally in love with him. But Brick? The walking away don't come easy. Especially when you're under the impression you've lost your legs due to the green screen you're doing the weather in front of.
6. Paul Walker/ The Fast & The Furious: One of the main reasons the outlandish, over-the-top first entry in this series worked, and the franchise even endured, is due to the chemistry newcomer Vin Diesel exacted with the late Walker. This was total 21 Jump Street territory (and, no, don't look for that film to get a nod next), with Walker undercover to bring Diesel down, yet seeing something in him that he found utterly redeemable and worthwhile. Plus, a hot sister. Walker risks everything for Diesel's character and manages to tread a line between right and wrong while doing so. Quite the balancing act. We've all had a buddy drive off the way Walker did in the 7th installment, not knowing at the time we'd never be boys again, but knowing we were all the better for having known him in the first place.