Sylvester “Sly” Stallone has built a career around being a total badass. He goes from film to film blowing stuff up, looking cool, and speaking with a bravado that’s slightly mushy. In fact if you inspect his filmography a little closer, you’ll find that “The Itallian Stallion” built his successful career without changing himself very much. All of his roles are just total badasses.
In honor of Expendables 2 week, and thanks to my degree in badass science and countless hours of badass calculations, I’m counting down ten roles in which Sly Stallone was at peak badass condition.
Read on so you can experience the badassadry.
10. Weaver (Antz, 1998)
Most Badass Line: “You da ant.”
Antz is always seen as a lacking version of Pixar’s A Bug’s Life, but Antz has one thing its competitor doesn’t: Stallone’s voice. As a matter of fact Stallone’s voice is so empowering, his character art resembles him. I mean, have you seen any mutant “antz” with giant muscles? I haven’t. Oh and “AYNTZ AYNTZ AYNTZ AYNTZ.”
9. Sgt. Joe Bomowski (Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, 1992)
Most Badass Line: “Mommy! I don’t want to be changed!”
While the late, great Estelle Getty actually got all of the screen time and great one-liners in Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, Stallone managed to play off her well enough. The most badass thing about this role is that Stallone was able to take part in this goofy movie and bounce back from it. His “man card” wasn’t punched, and to this day we (mainly, I) still believe he is a badass.
8. John Spartan (Demolition Man, 1993)
Most Badass Line: “You’re gonna regret this the rest of your life… both seconds of it.”
While most people remember Demolition Man because of Wesley Snipes’s weird blonde head thing, I remember it because Stallone and Snipes fight in something called a Cryoprison. How is that not the coolest (get it?) location for a final fight? Also the way Snipes is beaten (spoiler alert, very painfully) is one of the coolest (GET IT?) kills Stallone has ever gotten.
7. Lt. Marion ‘Cobra’ Cobretti (Cobra, 1986)
Most Badass Line: “You’re the disease, and I am the cure.”
I’ll admit I’ve only seen Cobra twice, so that’s why it’s number seven on the list. While Stallone is just awesome, Cobra has always been middle of the road. It is higher than the previous three films because of the badass shades, “dangerously cheezy” dialogue that’s immensely quotable, and “Cobretti” sounds like a dessert that goes good with coffee.
6. Barney Ross (The Expendables, 2010)
Most Badass Line: “I got my ass kicked.”
The Expendables franchise is one of the greatest things I’ve ever witnessed. It re-establishes Stallone’s badassadry for the two people who forgot how cool he was in the 80s and 90s. Unfortunately since the cast is so jam packed with action all-stars, Stallone gets a more subdued role as the mentor/leader guy to the younguns (in the action film sense) like Jason Statham. Still, he does get to do some badass things like get a raven back tattoo. And for that, Barney Ross is number six.
5. Judge Joseph Dredd (Judge Dredd, 1995)
Most Badass Line: “Emotions…there ought to be a law against them.”
The new Dredd is never going to be as badass as a blue eye contact wearin’, metal codpiece sportin’, no emotion havin’ Stallone. Stallone also has the proper “mouth shape” to pull off the helmet with the right amount of coolness. Every time he says “I am the law!” I believe it. I’m not going to be the one dumb enough to question Stallone’s Dredd…or his apparent twin brother who looks nothing like him. The only thing that knocks him down to number five is that Stallone is reaaally hard to understand when he’s yelling through a speaker in the beginning of the film.
4. Lincoln Hawk (Over the Top, 1987)
Most Badass Line: “I always wanted to be a milkshake.”
My father was a truck driver for the greater amount of my life. When he and I used to watch this together, he told me how arm wrestling matches actually took place around California (although not as flashy) and he used to compete and win against giant rednecks. To this day, I can’t watch Stallone as Lincoln Hawk do his thing without imagining how badass my own dad is. For the memories and his rally backwards cap, Lincoln Hawk is number four.
3. Rambo (First Blood, 1982)
Most Badass Line: “They drew first blood, not me.”
Rambo uses his killing prowess with deadly efficiency through his four films. The most notable thing about the character is how “un-actiony” he actually is. Rambo isn’t a cold killing machine, he’s a post-traumatic war veteran who is defending himself (at least for the first film). Stallone makes Rambo believable as both the badass killer and saddened individual. It’s one of his most nuanced characters to date.
2. Rocky Balboa (Rocky, 1976)
Most Badass Line: “ADRIAAAAAAN!!!!”
The six film Rocky saga helped get Stallone on the map and confirm his badassadry for his entire career. Through the films, Balboa has gone from “skid row” to fighting American idealism, former Black America, cold Russian power, disrespecting youth, and the loss of his prime. Rocky Balboa will always be Stallone’s most notable role in film. It’s the one everyone will remember when Stallone is long gone. But, it’s not his most badass. That honor goes to another.
1. Stud (The Party at Kitty and Stud’s/The Itallian Stallion, 1970)
Most Badass Line: *miscellaneous sex grunts*
“Sly” Stallone has sex with a woman. On camera. For the entire world to watch (again, mainly I). Before jump starting his career. How is this not the most badass thing he’s done?
Is your favorite not high enough on the list? Did I miss your favorite entirely? Is my list of Stallone badassadry somehow not badass enough (not likely) or do you just want to shower the list with badass praise (likely)? Drop me a badass comment below so we can duke it out in the comments (badassed-ly)!