Just because you can fight on the stable surface of Earth doesn’t mean you can fight in space. It takes grit; it takes the right stuff. And only a select few action stars have what it takes to head into zero gravity and stay standing. Sylvester Stallone? Tom Cruise? In their dreams! The following tough guys (and gals) have the stomach to leave the atmosphere, conquer the cosmos, and never look back.
Korben Dallas and Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis), The Fifth Element and Armageddon
The first time Willis went extraterrestrial it was as a rough-and-tumble cabdriving ex-soldier who saves the entire galaxy, in The Fifth Element. He stuck to the formula for Armageddon, his second deep-space mission: as an oil driller who saves Earth, he manages to conquer the nightmarish environment of an asteroid, staying alive only long enough to sacrifice himself and unleash a pretty cool space explosion. Willis is proof enough that once you go space, you never come back.
James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), Star Trek
With apologies to William Shatner, Chris Pine is the Captain Kirk who does the most serious action damage in space. It’s not really Shatner’s fault: the original Star Trek came way before the modern action movie and special effects. Pine’s version of the young captain has all of the swagger, but is also skilled in choreographed fighting and making things explode. If you’re looking for someone to blow up a bad guy’s ship, you could do a lot worse than this guy.
Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Star Wars
Captain Kirk is good, but if you’re looking for someone to annihilate the ship of your arch nemesis, you can’t do any better than the original space cowboy and action star in space, Harrison Ford. The original three Star Wars movies gave rise to Ford’s career as a perpetual badass and set the tone for all future action heroes in space. Han Solo can fight, use a gun, evade the Empire, and bag a princess. What more could you want?
Mal (Nathan Fillion), Serenity
If Ford was the prototype for the space cowboy, then Fillion’s Mal, in Serenity, is pretty much the Han Solo of the next generation. Like his space-hero forefathers, he’s more likely to throw a punch or shoot you than rely on fancy space gadgets. And wouldn’t you know it, like Solo and Kirk, he isn’t all that into authority: he spends most of his time evading the idealistic intergalactic Government, which is more or less the Star Wars Empire, minus a pair of disfigured superpowered leaders.
James Bond (Roger Moore), Moonraker
It’s James Bond…in space! Moore isn’t everyone’s favorite 007 — that honor, of course, goes to Sean Connery — but he may be everyone’s second favorite, thanks to this lunar excursion in which he saves the world from impending doom. Did Sean Connery do that? Moore also gets it on with the beautiful Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles), in zero g, which we’re pretty sure Connery didn’t do, either. Put it this way: Moore took one small step for James Bond and one giant leap for action heroes in space.
Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Alien
Sigourney Weaver made sure that female action heroes were represented off Earth four years before Sally Ride became the first real woman in space. And while Ride’s ride was pretty uneventful, Weaver meets one of the nastiest forms of alien life this side of Carrot Top and kicked its ass big-time. If we ever need to conquer another planet, Sigourney should be the first one sent in — just in case some big, bad alien needs a lesson or two in manners.
Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel), Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick
Diesel’s spent a fair amount of onscreen time outside the comfortable confines of Earth’s atmosphere. His greatest success has been as a dangerous criminal with surgically enhanced eyesight in Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick. In the former, he’s all that stands between a group of stranded humans and some super-creepy monsters. Later, in The Chronicles of Riddick, he ups the ante and becomes the savior of an entire race. In both cases, you throw Vin Diesel in space, and he saves lives.