Our heroes have changed a lot in the last 20 years. The characters that topped the box office in that great year of 1993 won the day with their strength, cunning and all-around badassery. These were old-school heroes of purpose and honor who didn’t live in a comic-book universe or an alternate dimension. But as much as we romanticize them, are they any match for today’s younger, buffer, CGI-enhanced heroes; men who aren’t even men but mutants, aliens, and robots? We pitted the biggest heroes from each year against each other to see who stands tallest.
The Scientist Turned Reluctant Hero
Dr. Alan Grant (Jurassic Park) vs. Gerry Lane (World War Z)
It says a lot that two of the biggest action heroes in each year weren’t super-powered at all but mild-mannered scientists, who used their intellect to save the day. While Dr. Grant managed to keep two small children from the wrath of the T-Rex, Gerry Lane not only saved his family, but the whole world from those ant-like undead.
Winner: Dr Alan Grant Sure, Gerry Lane saved the world, but then what hero didn’t in 2013? Dr. Grant was up against the intelligence of a Velociraptor, which makes sneaking past a horde of brainless zombies seem like a cake walk. And we’ll take Dr. Grant’s hat over Gerry Lane’s summer scarf anyday.
Outlaw Fighting to Be Exonerated
Richard Kimble (The Fugitive) vs. Dom Toretto (Fast and Furious 6)
Running from the law is no easy business. The FBI are always on your tail and you always have to be ready for a quick getaway. For Dom Toretto, that’s a fast car. For Richard Kimble, that’s jumping off a reservoir. Either way, both men managed to evade their would-be captors and win back their freedom without ever having to smile. Once.
Winner: Dom Toretto. If Richard Kimble had even one of Dom’s cars it would have made getting from that prison-bus wreck to Chicago a lot easier. Meanwhile, Dom’s taking down a plane with his car.
Young Hotshot Battling Corrupt Boss
Mitch McDeere (The Firm) vs. Captain James T. Kirk (Star Trek)
In real life, arrogance in the workplace gets you fired. In Hollywood blockbusters, it saves the day. Mitch McDeere teams up with the shady Eddie Lomax to take on his murderous law firm and save his family, while James T. Kirk aligns with the suspected terrorist Khan in order to take on the murderous Admiral Alexander Marcus and save the crew he loves.
Winner: Captain James T. Kirk. Tom Cruise’s Mitch might be suave and clever, but his charm is no match for Captain Kirk, the legend—even in remake form.
Traumatized by events from their pasts (President Kennedy’s assassination for Frank, the plot of The Avengers for Tony), these men have been forced to come out of hiding to battle a new, sinister villain bent on twisted type of revenge.
Winner: Frank Horrigan. Sure, Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark is hyper-intelligent and his wit can get him out of even the most perilous of situations. But without that suit, it’s up to Gwyneth Paltrow to save him. Clint Eastwood’s heroes never need a suit. He cuts down men with grizzle alone.
More beast than men, both Gabe and Logan are unable to save the girl in her moment of peril. Now, months after the “incident,” these heroes are forced back into action, Gabe by a villainous bank robber and Logan by a power-hungry billionaire. Will they be able to pull through or will the ghosts of their pasts prevent them from saving the day again?
Winner: Logan. Gabe is pretty resilient — he saves the day in only a light sweater! — but he’s no match for Logan, whose has indestructible bones and knives for fingers.
Battling Old Enemies in A New World
John Spartan (Demolition Man) vs. Superman (Man of Steel)
It seems 1993 was as big a year for Sylvester Stallone as 2013 was for Henry Cavill; both starred as transplanted heroes forced to save their new world from their arch nemeses. Stallone’s cryogenically frozen cop John Spartan fought him in the non-violent future while Cavill’s Clark Kent AKA Kal-El AKA the last son of Krypton was hid from him in Kansas.
Winner: Superman. Each of these men bring something from their past into battle. But while John’s inner city street smarts might make him seemingly super human in Sandra Bullock’s virtual sex-filled future, Superman is actually superhuman. Though, surprisingly, each left about the same amount of rubble in their wake.
Brothers Reunite to Fight New Evil
Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday (Tombstone) vs Thor and Loki (Thor: The Dark World)
The Wild West of Tombstone isn’t too different from the desolate battlefields of the Nine Realms. For in both, it takes two to defeat the enemy, one to get wounded (Doc, Loki) and one to stage the last battle (Wyatt, Thor).
Winner: Thor and Loki. Thor might be a God, but Earp tough as nails and half as arrogant. It’s Thor’s brother that that gives him the advantage. Sure, Doc is loyal to a fault. But he’s no match for Loki’s tricks.
Overall Winner: 2013. Seems our two-decade old heroes are no match for today’s testosterone-injected demigods. Still, the victors of 2013 might learn a little something from 1993: Saving the day takes more than just special effects.