From Rocky to Furiosa, we've ranked the toughest characters on film in 2015

By Drew Mackie
Updated October 18, 2016 03:48 PM
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Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

Who was the most take-charge, in-control, cool-under-pressure movie character of 2015? In other words, who was the biggest badass?

We felt like the past year offered an especially good crop of movie characters who were as tough and smart as they were awesome in action, and we thought we’d figure out who among them should take top honors. One cool thing about this year’s characters, regardless who you think should be No. 1? It’s a good year for badass movie characters irrespective of gender; there were about as many cool female characters as male ones. Badassery, of course, is transcendent that way.

Our methods were wholly unscientific, so please offer your thoughts in the comments below.

1. Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) in The Revenant

He gets mauled by a bear and left for dead in the frozen, desolate wilderness – and that’s only the start of the gauntlet of woes his character must overcome. DiCaprio wowed in the role of a character who should have died many times over throughout the course of the movie, but doesn’t, thanks in part to stubborn badassness. The fact that the film was inspired by a true story of survival helped ol’ Hugh clinch the top spot. He much deserves it after everything else he’s been through.

2. Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) in Mad Max: Fury Road

It’s a pretty badass move to steal a franchise from the character it’s named after, but that’s basically what happened in this year’s new Mad Max sequel. Max (Tom Hardy) was in the movie, sure, but the one commanding all the action was Furiosa. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons audiences dug it?

Charlize Theron’s Changing Looks

3. Donnie Creed (Michael B. Jordan) in Creed

Remember what was just said about stealing a franchise? All the more so if you actually do it with the original actor still in the mix. Jordan proved to be as tough in his first outing as Stallone was during his first turn as Rocky Balboa back in 1976, and now the weight of a new boxing movie franchise rests on his shoulders. How badass!

4. Rey (Daisy Ridley) in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Here’s our reasoning for people who haven’t yet seen The Force Awakens and are trying to avoid spoilers: Rey is given a lot to do in a film series that often resigned its female characters to more passive roles. And here’s the spoilery version: How many female Star Wars diehards have been waiting decades to see a female character wield a lightsaber in such a grand fashion? How badass was that?

5. Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) in Jurassic World

He’s as hardcore a dinosaur nerd as they come, sure, but he’s cool enough that he can ride a motorcycle alongside his pack of raptor buddies, and that’s one of the most badass things to ever happen in the history of movies.

6. Amy Townsend (Amy Schumer) in Trainwreck

She’s an unmarried professional woman in a romantic comedy who lives her life like an unmarried professional man in a romantic comedy. That shouldn’t be so novel to see onscreen, but it is, and Schumer plays this alternative universe version of herself like a true badass.

7. Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) in Furious 7

He’s the lynchpin of the Furious franchise, the various installments of which seemed to be trying to combine actors with varying badass levels and seeing how they shake out. Well, Furious 7 brought them all together and introduced Ronda Rousey as a character as Diesel still came out as the badass of all the Furious badasses.

8. Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) in The Hateful Eight

Not to be outdone by The Revenant, there’s that other quasi-Western about awful things happening in the snow, and one of the most awful things in The Hateful Eight is Daisy, the criminal captive character played by Jennifer Jason Leigh. She’s bad, but she’s almost admirable in how seriously she has committed to being bad, and she embraces the role with more swagger than any other male characters in the story.

9. The guy The Rock played in San Andreas

Yes, his character does technically have a name, but years from now we won’t remember San Andreas as “the movie that introduced Chief Ray Gaines” so much as “that one earthquake movie where The Rock is a badass the whole time.”

10. Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) in Kingsmen: The Secret Service

What, like you didn’t leave the theater after seeing this movie – one that’s chock-a-block with badass characters, mind you – with the primary thought in your head being “Wait, who was that badass chick with blades for legs?” Boutella will be returning for further badass feats in the upcoming Star Trek Beyond, and we’re excited.

Honorable Mentions: Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum in Jupiter Ascending

There’s always a certain amount of badass appeal in space opera derring-do, but we’re particularly impressed with the leads in Jupiter Ascending for just rolling with this weird, weird, weird movie. Yes, there is something badass in saying “Hey, I don’t care if no one wants to watch this. I’m giving it my all anyway!”