At the end of World War I, Armistice Day was established as a way of honoring those who served. In the century since, the holiday has become known as Veterans Day in the United States. Today, we thank those who have served in the armed forces for all they’ve done. No matter where you stand on their conflicts, supporting those involved in them is important. So, thank you to all of those, past and present, who have served. Now, let’s get to today’s list. For today’s holiday edition, we’re going to celebrate some of my favorite soldiers from film and television.
Steve “Captain America” Rogers (Chris Evans) – Marvel Cinematic Universe
I couldn’t have a list of soldiers without including this super supersoldier. While I never really gave Captain America much thought, Chris Evans‘ portrayal made me sit up and take notice. He’s managed to add so many wonderful layers to a character that so many might consider boring. There’s just a lot going on under that steely-eyed surface. Steve Rogers was put in an improbable situation and rose to the occasion. If ever you have a problem, Cap should definitely be near the top of your short list of problem solvers.
Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter) – “Wonder Woman”
What? Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter)? You’re probably just staring blankly at this list trying to figure out why I’m including an Amazonian princess on this list. Well, it’s all quite simple. Her alter-ego, Diana Prince, served in a couple of different military departments throughout the run of the show. So, yes, she counts and, also, are you going to fault me for the inclusion of Wonder Woman? Seriously. She was fabulous and kicked butt.
Sam “Falcon” Wilson (Anthony Mackie) – Marvel Cinematic Universe
Introduced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Falcon is Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie). Sam served in a paratrooper unit and came home to help as a counselor with the VA. His primary focus in the VA is to help soldiers struggling with PTSD. That’s how he and Captain America connected. Of course he signed on to help in the battle against Hydra. He’s a good soldier and a good man.
Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) – The Sharpe Series
Everyone thinks that Sean Bean dies in everything. To be honest, he does have a tendency not to survive in many of the things in which he’s cast. One of the notable exceptions, of course, is the series of made-for-TV films for the BBC in which is plays Richard Sharpe, rifleman in the English army. He was just a simple soldier who was elevated to the ranks. This, of course, didn’t make him popular among his fellow enlisted men, but that’s a part of the plot of the first film. Check it out. Seriously. He survives every single movie.
Zoe Washburne (Gina Torres) – “Firefly” and Serenity
She’s badass. She’s gorgeous. She could probably kill me with just her pinkie. It would probably be quite the way to go. Zoe Washburne (Gina Torres) served with the Browncoats under Malcolm Reynolds. After the war was over, she followed him onto the Serenity and into a life of smuggling. Of course, she kept her skills sharp and became the most intimidating member of the crew. It’s easy to see why she made this list. Seriously.
Commander Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) – “Star Trek: Deep Space 9”
Starfleet Commander Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) was given command of the station Deep Space 9. Its position at the mouth of a wormhole made it a vital location. It also made the station a valuable target. After rising tensions boiled over, war broke out and Sisko was on the front lines. It was one of the first times that we got to see an officer of Starfleet actively involved in a war. Sisko was remarkable for other reasons as well, but his ability to rise to meet the crisis is why he’s here.
Eowyn (Miranda Otto) – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Return of the King
A daughter of Rohan, Eowyn (Miranda Otto) was expected to stay home and mind the hall. She had no desire to remain behind while those she loved went off to war. She took matters into her own hands, donned some armor, and rode her horse straight into battle along with her beloved brother and uncle. It was a fortunate thing she was there too because she was the only one who could take out the wicked Witch-King of Angmar. That encounter is one of the most iconic moments in fantasy film.
John Diggle (David Ramsey) – “Arrow”
A superhero is only as good as his sidekicks. Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), aka “The Arrow,” is fortunate that his first sidekick was former soldier John Diggle (David Ramsey). One of his functions on Team Arrow is to act as a balancing mechanism when Oliver wants to go full-on vendetta and off-the-rails. He’s also a good friend who is a great support structure for the show’s brooding hero. He’s also a damn good soldier and makes incredible back-up.
Private Jenette Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) – Aliens
Hudson: “Hey Vasquez, have you ever been mistaken for a man?”
Vasquez:”No. Have you?”
“In the 1980’s, when most Sci-Fi action movies featured some mullet or buzz cut muscle dude carrying an impractically large handgun with an even more impractically large laser sight, James Cameron was giving us Vasquez (Jeanette Goldstein): The quintessential Colonial Space Marine. The Latina ass kicker whom every other member of the squad respected and treated as an equal. The woman who wielded a machine gun that was as tall as she was with power and ease. The Private who stared down cold hungry Xenemorph death in the face with a fiery hand grenade. Her establishing shot features her doing chinups with her partner, matching him rep for rep; and she just. Never. Stops.”
“Aliens came out 22 years ago, and yet Private Vasquez still stands as one of the most kickass soldiers ever put to film in any action movie.”
Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) – “Sleepy Hollow”
Originally a member of the British Army, Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) switched sides after his conscience showed him that the American cause was the worthier one. He served as a soldier and spy under the command of George Washington. Of course, there’s a whole lot of other stuff going on. You know. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, demons, witchcraft, and all kinds of wacky stuff. Fortunately, Ichabod has been able to keep his sanity and just roll with all of the weird stuff that comes his way.
Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) – Mulan
When the Emperor (Pat Morita) sent out a call for the men of China to join the army, due their duty, and defend the country, Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) tried to convince her aging father to stay behind. When those efforts failed, she took his place instead. Initially, she was really crappy at being a soldier. Like legendarily crappy. With strength and determination, she soon becomes one of the best soldiers in the whole army and ends up saving her country. Sorry to spoil it for you, but it’s a Disney movie. You know that it was going to have a fantastically happy ending.
Honorable Mention: My Dad – Bruce Hendrickson
Okay. I’m cheating a bit here. My aunt recently brought down a bunch of photographs and there was one of my dad from when he went off to Vietnam. Honestly, I don’t know a whole lot about his service in the Army. I know that he volunteered after not doing so well in college. He was into communications or something. I really should ask more about that. All I know are the random anecdotes he’s shared over the years about how he finally felt like he was home when their plane landed on the tarmac in Pittsburgh and he felt cool, fresh air for the first time in ages. Still, for his service and for a myriad of other reasons, my dad has a spot on my list of favorite soldiers. So do my grandfathers, Homer Hendrickson and Eugene Brooks who both served in WWII.