We all know white dudes aren’t the only ones who could open up a can of whoop-ass on screen. They may dominate the box office (sometimes), but it’s the brothas—and some sistas—who really shut the whole thing down. And, you know what they say, black don’t crack. Here are ten action heroes who will never go out of style:
10) Michael Jai White: Marcus from Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married?” movies might have introduced him to a new audience, but those in the know have been peeping White’s talent as an action star for years. Not only did he keep up with both Steven Seagal and Bill Duke in “Exit Wounds,” but he also went on to lend his voice as The Green Lantern in the Justice League Heroes video game, and later stepped to Heath Ledger as the Joker in “The Dark Knight.” All of which led to his definable role as “Black Dynamite.” This dude has been stuntin’ for years and y’all may not have even known about it.
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9) The Rock: How much do audiences love Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? Let us count the ways. He’s premium beefcake, can knock out an army of dudes with a wave of his fist, and can pick up a car with his pinky finger (though that last part hasn’t been proven… yet). Oh, and it helps that he can resuscitate any dying action franchise by the simple addition of his name in the credits. Werk.
8) Wesley Snipes: You know what they say: you can’t keep a good brother down. He may be locked up for tax evasion, but thanks to his “Blade” domination, people still regard Snipes as one of the most engaging black superheroes to watch, and even considered him a shoo-in for a “Black Panther” movie. Yeah, he’s that dope.
7) Bill Duke: Not everybody can saddle up next to Arnold Schwarzenegger in a movie, twice. But Bill Duke took on the Governator without even a hitch in the action megamovies “Predator” AND “Commando.” And even went on to star alongside other action movie staples—Michael Jai White and Steven Seagal—in the movie we all love to love, “Exit Wounds.” And Duke didn’t stop at merely acting in action films. He went behind the camera to helm more great action in the Laurence Fishburne vehicle “Deep Cover” among many others. Can’t stop, won’t stop.
6) Samuel L. Jackson: No actor since Roundtree has made action heroes look as cool as Jackson does, naturally. Perhaps it’s the effortless swag in his walk, or the ability he has to make even the wildest lines seem like the best ever written. But from “Pulp Fiction” to the “Shaft” remake and “The Avengers,” Jackson is the guy who delivers ten times out of ten.
5) Naomie Harris: Ain’t no man or woman can say he or she is not shook watching Harris take down grown ass men in “28 Days Later.” You never know if she’s going to annihilate a bad guy, or just some innocent dude who got in her way at the wrong time. We’re so looking forward to her to face off against more villains in the upcoming James Bond movie, “Skyfall.“ Can’t be mad at the gangsta on this one.
4) Richard Roundtree: This bad motha (shut yo mouth!) has been the reigning godfather of black action films since his breakout role as the detective that takes no ish from no one in “Shaft.” He later took that role to the motherland in the sequel, “Shaft in Africa,” and kept the momentum going on the small screen with the unfortunately short-lived TV series, “Shaft.” Forty years since he first suited up, he’s still the go-to to actor to call for any action movie, including the remake of “Shaft” with Samuel L. Jackson and the cult classic thriller “Se7en” with Morgan Freeman. Other brothers could only dream of his career.
3) Pam Grier: The woman who helped put female action heroes—of any color—on the map has undoubtedly cemented her place on this list. Fearless, sexy, and smart, Grier’s bold attitude matches her still emulated wardrobe, all of which that has made her an institution. Much respect.
2) Denzel Washington: Washington has managed to transform himself from an academically trained dramatic actor to a legitimate action hero who leaps from speeding trains, slices guys’ throats and blows up buildings without even a grimace of fear. He approaches each role with the same level of confidence and believability that has captured audiences for almost 40 years. There really is nothing he can’t do.
1) Will Smith: We already know that he’s the one to call in case of a zombieapocalypse. But, don’t sleep, because Smith is the one to call for everything. He takes out humans, aliens, and robots to save the entire universe from total damnation. And at 44 years young, he’s still got that swag.
Candice Frederick is an NABJ award-winning journalist, movie contributor for Bitch Flicks, and film blogger for Reel Talk. Follow her on twitter.
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