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Badass Normal / Live-Action Films

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Badass Normals in live-action movies.

  • Neill Blomkamp seems to have a thing for making his Big Bads this trope. Colonel Koobus of District 9 is a South African mercenary who leads men to police aliens who can shrug off 9mm rounds and rip people's limbs off, and single-handedly takes out an alien Mini-Mecha which slaughtered all of his men. Kruger of Elysium takes on a guy in Powered Armor with a katana, though he does eventually get his own suit to fight Max's, and he also survives getting his face blown off. Eventually Subverted with Moore from Chappie, as he's set up as a tough ex-special forces operative, but at no point in the film does he even threaten Chappie without a major advantage like a weapon, a load of henchmen, or the Moose, and eventually Chappie royally kicks his ass - the film's climax makes it clear that past the bluster and military training, he's just a loser on a power trip.

  • Buckaroo Banzai from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. A world renowned crimefighter, Dr Banzai lacks superpowers but excels in his expertise in science, neurosurgery, test piloting and sense of courage to save the day. He's also a talented rock musician and his circle of associates (and fellow band members), the Hong Kong Cavaliers, are all exceptional polymaths in their own right.
  • Charge from All Superheroes Must Die turns out to be one.
  • Subverted in Blade Runner: You've got Harrison Ford playing Deckard, one of the specialists with the badass name "Blade Runner" who hunt the artificial, superhuman replicants. What you don't expect is that he'll get smacked around by some of the replicants easily and only survive by luck.
  • In The Changeling, John starts to suspect that he has moved into a haunted house. But rather than go into denial or cower in fear, he actively seeks it out-exploring boarded up rooms and exhuming unmarked graves, alone, in the dead of night-to find out who it is and what it wants.
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  • Spoon of Dog Soldiers is a crazy British squaddie who takes on a werewolf in a fist-fight, and violently beats its furry ass. He only gets killed when another one turns up and the two double-team him, but he goes out with "I hope I give you the shits, you fuckin' wimp!"
  • Elysium: Drakey and Crowe, Kruger's henchmen, who despite lacking exosuits, hold their own against Max and others, with Drakey single-handedly taking out the CCB building and forcing an evacuation.
  • Ash Williams of the Evil Dead series. This man only wields a Chainsaw for an arm, a double barreled Remington shotgun note , a chiseled jaw, and the wit of a total jackass. Spouting off one liners left and right, this man who used to be an S-Mart clerk single handedly takes on an army of Deadites. He goes from a normal guy who is just as easily disturbed about the armies of hell as any other, to one of the most memorable movie badasses in history. Hail to the king baby.
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  • Jacob Kowalski from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has no magic powers, but he doesn't need any to punch a double-crossing goblin or kick down a door that can't be magically unlocked.
  • Snake-Eyes from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (Storm Shadow is his Cobra counterpart), specificly when dealing with the Neo-Vipers. In the Paris chase he manages to do a lot more to try and stop Storm Shadow and Ana than his teammates in Powered Armor. All without having anything special besides a gun and his sword.
  • Godzilla: Final Wars has Captain Gordon. He defeats superpowered mutants and aliens armed with laser guns using only his fists and a katana. He was also able to survive a few encounters with Godzilla himself.
    • In a kaiju example we have Gorosaurus, who is little more than a giant theropod who can only bite, claw, kick and slash. Yet he is strong enough to physically overpower King Ghidorah and take his gravity beams head-on without much trouble.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is being run by an ordinary one - he doesn't even have Nemo's "mad science knack" for him. But seeing how it's Sean Connery, obviously he kicks as much and more ass then various immortals and Hydes.
  • Col. Hardy in Man of Steel. He shows no fear in fighting the Kryptonians and does his level best to kick some ass. Even the Kryptonians are impressed.
  • Several examples from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which may cross over with comics examples listed on that page:
    • S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Phil Coulson, Maria Hill, Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye and Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow. They all serve under undisputed Badass Normal Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D. And, if Coulson's description is accurate, the whole of S.H.I.E.L.D. is an example.
    • Apart from Captain America himself, every other member of the Howling Commandos is a Badass Normal. Peggy Carter and Col. Chester Phillips from the Strategic Scientific Reserve are certainly no slouches in the badass normal department themselves, either. Special mention to Bucky, who keeps up with him for most of the film despite being normal.
    • Ivan Vanko fits, while he did have a laser-whip harness, he was otherwise unprotected when he was hit by a car, a metal door, and by Iron Man himself. He stayed conscious through all of this.
    • In Iron Man 3 both Tony and Rhodes show they are capable of fighting supervillains without armor.
    • Unfortunately, this was averted in the case of Happy Hogan who confronted a supervillain and was immediately put in a coma for his troubles. He gets better in the end though.
    • Also, the first time Emil Blonsky faced the Hulk, he was just a soldier. He didn't fare well but was seemingly the only survivor against Hulk's rampage and certainly the only one left standing by the end of it. That says something.
    • In Captain America: Civil War, Helmut Zemo has no advanced tech (the most he pulls out is an EMP), no powers and no special origin. He's not the head of a billion dollar company or the leader of a terror group. At best, he was a former military colonel. What he does have is patience, wits and The Power of Hate. He's also the ONLY MCU villain under The Bad Guys Win. At least until Infinity War...
  • The original trio of heroes in Mystery Men. Maybe. Mr. Furious does seem to have Rage Enhanced Super strength, though we're still not sure if he could lift a bus or not.
  • In Oz the Great and Powerful, Oscar Diggs, who will later become The Man Behind the Curtain, isn't actually a real wizard, but is still badass enough to defeat The Wicked Witch of the East and The Wicked Witch of the West.
  • Riddick of Pitch Black had this going for him until the sequel retconned him into the last of a fearless warrior race.
  • A unusual example of this occurs in Spider-Man 2, where the citizens on the train that Spider-Man just saved see him with his mask off and realize that, despite having super-powers, the "guy behind the mask" is actually just a normal human teenager, who presumably goes to school, and has a normal life like every other teen. Although unacknowledged, it's this fact that makes them all stand up to Doc Ock, to try and protect Spidey. Who just uses his "robotic arms" to move them out the way.
  • In the Star Wars universe, there are many who can perform amazing feats even if they lack Force-sensitivity:
    • Jango Fett from Attack of the Clones has about the best record in the Star Wars films of a normal fighting the Force-using Jedi. First, he fights Obi-Wan using gizmos and gumption. Jango gets the worse of the combat, but his gadgets last just long enough to allow a quick escape, and Obi-Wan is certainly inconvenienced. Later he manages to kill a distracted Jedi Red Shirt with some blaster sharpshooting. This must have gone to his head, because he ultimately tries to take on Mace Windu and gets rather anticlimatically curbstomped — note that Windu was absolutely elite even among the Jedi.
    • Finn, as seen in The Force Awakens, is able to hold his own in a lightsaber battle with trained Force-sensitive Kylo Ren despite the former's only having been trained in the use of Stun Batons (best exemplified by FN-2199 AKA 'TR-8R') which absolutely does not translate to the bottom-heavy lightsaber(it's worth noting that on close inspection, Finn has a tendency to overswing in his fight with Kylo, which is remarkably realistic, considering) and Kylo's being a trained Dark Side wielder hopped up on rage and pain (though, admittedly, also badly wounded with a weapon we've seen send Stormtroopers in full armour flying).
    • The Force Awakens has an even better example with a random Stormtrooper (canonically named "FN-2199", but better known to fans as TR-8R), who is able to take on Finn while the latter had a lightsaber with nothing but a stun baton and some serious Chutzpah. He would have killed Finn, too, had it not been for Han and Chewie intervening. Though, as noted above, since Finn had never trained with a lightsaber before, this isn't saying much.
    • Wedge Antilles of the original trilogy and Poe Dameron of The Force Awakens are some of the best Ace Pilots whose piloting skills rival even force users like Luke and Vader. Wedge survived both attacks on the Death Stars (in the novels it's stated he's the only person to survive both Death Star runs) and even brought down a near-invincible AT-AT by using the harpoon cables of his snowspeeder to tangle its legs. In his debut film, Poe Dameron shot down 10 TIE fighters in 10 seconds with his X-Wing and landed the finishing blow to the Starkiller planet by flying into the it and destroying its core.
    • All of the titular team in Rogue One, but especially Chirrut Îmwe who is not only lacking in Force-powers but is also blind and can still curb-stomp stormtrooper squads and shoot down TIE Fighters with nothing but a wooden staff and a crossbow, respectively.
    • And of course there's Han Solo, who can take on waves of stormtroopers and fly his rugged freighter through a dense asteroid field.
    • And his first girlfriend Qi'ra, martial-arts master.
    • The Praetorian Guard in The Last Jedi, who show no signs of Force sensitivity whatsoever but are strong enough to take on Kylo Ren and Rey fighting together, and almost win.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), both April and Vernon went after Sacks and retrieved the mutagen despite neither being remotely skilled and Sacks having a gun.
  • Kyle Reese from Terminator. An ordinary soldier from the future going up against a nigh-invincible killing machine. He dies bifurcating it with a handmade bomb, leaving his charge Sarah to finish it off by crushing it in a machine.
  • The Transformers films have an interesting example of how a group of characters grow into the role of Badass Normal. When they start off human soldiers were completely helpless against the Decepticons, as they would shrug off .50 cal machine guns and anything lower with no problem. Lennox and Epps managed to discover (almost by accident) that they were vulnerable to HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank) rounds, which they fired from hand-held weapons, as well as the really heavy weapons fired from artillery platforms. But due to difficulties mobilizing support crafts and hand-held weaponry not capable of extensive enough damage, they were still relying heavily on Autobot support during the course of ROTF. By DOTM you see soldiers training directly with Autobots in how common infantry soldiers can do real damage against the big robots: using trip wires, blinding them with parachutes or sniper rounds, planting grenades on their feet to disable them... using Badass Normal strategies over heavy firepower. In the final battle of DOTM it effectively becomes Bash Brothers with equal footing with the Autobots and Human Soldiers just decimating the Decepticon ranks.
    • The trailers for the fourth film show the government hunting down all Transformers, claiming that Autobots are not needed anymore. Naturally, the Decepticons return to show them they're wrong.
  • In Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, back when Raze was human, he was strong enough to punch out werewolves. He was eventually turned, removing him from badass normal status.
  • Lothar and Llane from WarCraft stand out among other heroes as being regular humans, as opposed to the rest of the characters - a half-orc, an actual orc and a pair of wizards. They keep up with orc-slaying just fine.
  • Wonder Woman (2017): Steve is a World War I pilot, spy, and saboteur and skilled in his own right, he just isn't a demi-goddess with Super Strength, divine armor, and weapons. His aim with a gun is enough to provide cover fire.
  • In the X-Men Film Series, the average cop or soldier is capable of fighting against mutants, even if the former may not always win.
    • X2: X-Men United:
      • William Stryker is as intimidating as Magneto, without any superpowers!
      • One cop briefly took Wolverine down with a shot to the head.
    • X-Men: The Last Stand:
      • The military is smart enough to go after Magneto with non-metal weapons and took out quite a few members of his mutant army before the X-Men showed up to lend a hand.
      • A random security guard was the one who eventually took down Mystique.
    • X-Men Origins: Wolverine: Stryker was the one responsible for shooting Logan in the head with an adamantium bullet, giving him amnesia.
    • The Wolverine:
      • Shingen Yashida. No mutant powers, no supertech, just a katana. Nonetheless, he holds his own against the Wolverine himself. Oh, and Shingen was weakened by Viper's poison at the time, which was intended to kill him.
      • Harada is a mundane leader of a clan of mundane ninja.
      • Logan has a very difficult time with the two determined Yakuza on top of the bullet train, who do all the same death-defying stunts as Wolverine without any superpowers at all.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: The Ancient Egyptians of 3600 BC defeated En Sabah Nur and his Four Horsemen without the benefit of superpowers or modern technology.

Alternative Title(s): Film


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