Photo: Phillip V. Caruso, courtesy of Film District
With the release of the Die Hard-in-the-White-House (or is it Passenger 57-in-the-Rose-Garden?) thriller Olympus Has Fallen, Aaron "Two Face" Eckhart joins the ranks of Bill Pullman, Harrison Ford, and, um, Abraham Lincoln in the tradition of badass movie presidents (Jamie Foxx is right behind him with the upcoming White House Down). The whole ass-whomping president thing seems like a Hollywood fantasy: can you really imagine Jimmy Carter brandishing dual AK-47s and blasting his way out of an attempted hijacking? (Try it, it's awesome.)
Yet some Commanders in Chief were total badasses who spent their days kicking ass and chewing bubblegum, sometimes with wooden teeth. Behold, the presidents that could totally headline their own action franchises. Consider them the Executive Office Expendables, but with considerably less HGH in their systems and smarter one-liners.
Theodore "Bullmoose" Roosevelt
Deadly Tedly was a Rough Rider (the cowboy kind, not the DMX kind), globe-trotting adventurer, and NYC police commissioner before becoming the 26th president. This is a man who killed more animals than a Texas cattle compound. A man who got shot and finished a speech before going to the hospital. Imagine what he'd do to Euro-trash terrorists who hijacked his plane
Badass quote: "There were all kinds of things I was afraid of at first, ranging from grizzly bears to 'mean' horses and gun-fighters. But by acting as if I was not afraid I gradually ceased to be afraid.
Action movie one liner: "Time for you to make a square deal… with the Reaper.
"Bloody" Andrew Jackson
Think it was cute that the seventh president was nicknamed "Old Hickory"? You wouldn't think so if you were on the receiving end of the hickory stick he used to beat the crap out of people. He also loved to duel… and unlike Han Solo, he'd often give opponents the first shot. Once, a would-be assassin's guns misfired. Jackson used the opportunity to Old Hickory him half to death.
Badass quote: "No one need think that the world can be ruled without blood. The civil sword shall and must be red and bloody.
Action movie one-liner: "You stick to your guns. I'll stick to my hickory.
George "Town Destroyer" Washington
Cherry trees weren't the only think G-Wash chopped down: the Iroquois called the first president the "Town Destroyer". Redcoats called him "Holy s***, it's that crazy guy with the wooden teeth". And after the Revolutionary War ended, everyone just called General Washington "Boss".
Badass quote: "I heard the bullets whistle, and, believe me, there is something charming in the sound."
Action movie one-liner: "I cannot tell a lie: You're f***ed.
General Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower
You don't basically organize D-Day, extol the virtues of nuking the Ruskies, and survive on a diet of pipe tobacco and grit without being labeled one of the most badass leaders of all time. The 34th president did that, plus became a five-star general, devoted his time to crushing the commies like Patrick Swayze, and invented the Interstate Highway System, which made the old highway system look like a total wuss.
Badass quote: "The hand of the aggressor is stayed by strength, and strength alone.
Movie one-liner: "Get ready to get Iked.
John F. "Ing-A" Kennedy
Compared to other presidents, Jack was more like James Bond, insofar as he spent as much time slipping in and out of conflicts as he did slipping in and out of an international roster of hot chicks like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. He also snuck his way into the Navy despite being refused because of a bad back (take that, Bill Clinton), and became a hero when PT-109 got shredded and the future 35th president towed an injured comrade ashore… with his teeth. Then he had more sex.
Badass quote: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
One liner: "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what I'm gonna do to your, er, ah, face.
Ronald "The Reaper" Reagan
The 40th president makes the list because he actually was an action star, predating Schwarzenegger's rise from actor to political figure by decades. He actually had 70+ screen appearances, many of which were in Westerns. But if you don't think Ronnie was badass in real life, consider this: he was also one of the most prolific bank robbers in LA history, and even taught Keanu Reeves how to skydive.
Badass quote: "We must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.
One-liner: "Heeeeeeere's Ronnie!
Photo: Pete Souza
Barack "The Bomb" Obama
The current president's badassery has yet to be fully realized, but the pieces are in place for Barry to do some serious damage. Dude's got a hell of a reach. He grew up globe-trotting like Jason Bourne. He can ball. And there's the whole Bin Laden thing, which could totally result in a remake of Zero Dark Thirty where the Commander in Chief replaces Jessica Chastain, but for some reason still has long red hair.
Badass quote: "If you're looking for a safe choice, you shouldn't be supporting a black guy named Barack Obama…"
Action movie one-liner: "I'm the Tea Party-pooper.
And finally, here's a look at Eckhart being presidential, Gerard Butler blowing stuff up, and Morgan Freeman being Morgan Freeman-y.