The extinction-level event known as ‘The Apocalypse’ has been the subject of a truly endless number of films, TV shows, comic books, video games, and novels. Whether it comes in the form of an alien invasion, zombie outbreak, global nuclear war, or fatal epidemic, it seems the world of films has made up its mind: humanity is bound to fall – it’s just a matter of time.
Seeing as we’ve accrued more than a passing amount of knowledge in how to survive events and tragedies more likely seen on film than in real life, we’ve assembled somewhat of a plan, should the worst befall mankind. We may not be able to make it by on our own, but with a select few heroes, in a few key roles, we think we’d be able to beat the odds.
As this weekend’s release of The World’s End proves, friends can make any situation better – but not necessarily survivable. These iconic characters are far from perfect, but they nevertheless make up Our Dream Team For When The Apocalypse Strikes.
Appeared In: Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Strength: The man with the plan: every group needs one; in an apocalyptic landscape, even more than usual. That being said, we prefer our fearless leaders to have a sense of humor. Just because zombies, robots, or heartless cannibals stand in our path, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy our time together – something we learned from Shaun (Simon Pegg). But while he may be good for a laugh, Shaun doesn’t hesitate when the world’s end arrives, he simply puts his knowledge to use saving himself and those closest to him.
Weakness: His leadership skills aren’t in question, but his personal and professional lives imply he rarely puts such enthusiasm into things not concerned with staying alive. Not to mention his illogical attachment to friends, even after they’ve been turned into mindless killing machines.
Name: Gerry Lane
Appeared In: World War Z (2013)
Strength: We know what you’re thinking: Gerry Lane’s (Brad Pitt) death toll isn’t as high as some other survivors of the zombie apocalypse, but there’s more to surviving than just out-killing – you’ve got to out-think your opponent. As the adaptation of Max Brook’s novel proved, Lane is your go-to guy for just about any mission, no matter the risk. By keeping a cool head, thinking on his feet, and knowing when to give up on a lost cause, we’d trust him to lead us through any number of sticky situations.
Weakness: While we admire Lane’s dedication to his family, we can’t help notice that while he manages to make it through the disasters that seem to follow him, others aren’t as lucky. Plus, his wife is always calling (and has a knack for bad timing).
Name: Max Rockatansky
Appeared In: Mad Max series (1979-1985)
Strength: The entire genre of post-apocalyptic films proves that the decay of society is nearly impossible to stop – with that responsibility most often falling to the little that remains of organized law enforcement. Granted his experience with weapons and vehicles, Officer Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) proved – multiple times – that he knows where the line between good and evil can be found. And he’s not afraid to kill to keep good people on the proper side of it. (Editor’s note: While The Walking Dead‘s Rick Grimes was also a contender, his deteriorating mental condition rules him out)
Weakness: Not exactly one for partners or hangers-on, it would take some convincing to get Max to operate as part of a team. The possibility of running into mutants/cannibals skyrockets by his mere presence, so that’s a known risk.
Name: Robert Neville
Appeared In: I Am Legend (2007)
Strength: Robert Neville (Will Smith) may keep himself in peak physical condition, it’s his success in dealing with the tedium of the post-apocalyptic landscape that matters. Impromptu trips to the driving range and optimistic music help keep survivors sane – we’d expect nothing less from a man determined to cure the world through his brilliant scientific intellect. Plus, we’d consider his optimally-trained and lovable dog a package deal.
Weakness: As the name of the film implies – and his insistence to dominate all radio traffic – Neville possesses more than a slightly-elevated opinion of himself.
Name: Katniss Everdeen
Appeared In: The Hunger Games series (2012-)
Strength: It may seen strange to select a low-born, regularly-malnourished young woman as part of our team of survivors, but any fan of The Hunger Games knows that Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is capable of surviving with next to nothing. Her skill with a bow brings much-needed steal lethality, but her survival skills – hunting, tracking, knack for finding shelter – are priceless for long-term success. Plus, she has a beautiful singing voice; a welcome addition to any scorched-Earth scenario.
Weakness: Although maternal instincts are strong in Katniss where her family is concerned, we can’t guarantee that having to care and feed an entire squad of less-capable men wouldn’t lead to frustration and resentment.
Appeared In: The Matrix series (1999-2003)
Strength: It’s a point driven home in any military narrative: although weapons and strategy are key factors in winning extended wars, keeping up morale among the fighting is as important to success, if not more so. Due to so many on our roster possessing admittedly bleak views of the world, someone like Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) is a must. No post-apocalyptic hero is more resolute in his belief that it is mankind’s destiny to triumph, and Morpheus’ mellifluous speeches can motivate even the most defeated. He’s pretty good with a sword, too.
Weakness: Having his hopes dashed would render Morpheus largely useless, but by contrast, his unwavering faith and optimism could get on some people’s nerves when nearly freezing to death on a regular basis.
Appeared In: The Road (2009)
Strength: People can talk all they want about the best methods of dispatching zombies, hiding from robotic overlords, or avoiding infection, but The Road‘s Father (Viggo Mortensen) knows that survival depends on one thing: food and water. True, bullets are a precious commodity; and avoiding strangers is the best policy; but without food and water, all the safety in the world still leads to a slow, painful death. Author Cormac McCarthy knew it, and the film captured it: supplies are life. Who better than The Father to control resources?
Weakness: There’s no way around it: the guy has seen some bad stuff. We’d like to think he’s capable of dealing with it, but if a friendly campfire chat ever turned to sharing war stories… even Morpheus couldn’t save the evening.
Appeared In: Resident Evil series (2002-)
Strength: Prevention and preparation are important in surviving the end of the world, but sooner or later, people have to stand their ground; often when the odds are squarely stacked against them. When that situation prevents itself, every band of survivors needs someone who is simply born to end lives. Alice (Milla Jovovich) has not only proven that she’s effective with blades, bullets, and anything in between, but that her skills have only gotten better with age.
Weakness: If the world is trying to kill you, it’s always best to keep things simple. And if there’s one thing Alice is not, it’s simple. Joining up with her will give any team an edge in combat, but with cloning, mutated monsters and loved ones lying in her wake, she may be more trouble than she’s worth.
Name: Wall-E (1996-2011)
Appeared In: Wall-E (2008)
Strength: Two facts that every post-apocalyptic organization soon realizes: that a pet can make the difference between tolerating disaster and despair, and that life in the rubble is a messy existence. Luckily, the BnL corporation saw fit to combine both solutions in one, thanks to their Wall-E trash compactors. Not only will this little guy clean up any clutter like it’s his sole reason for existence (it is), he’ll look adorable doing it!
Weakness: Personality is certainly something to be admired in a robot (provided it’s not trying to kill you), but Wall-E’s longing for a better life could lead to serious problems. By simply angling his ‘eyes,’ Wall-E can bring anyone close to tears – not ideal, when all reasons to live are in question.
Those are the tried-and-true survivors of any number of disasters that we’d want at our side when the dead rise, the bombs drop, or the robot army begins its march. There are plenty others that we could include, but lest we forget: there’s not enough food to go around.
Which heroes (or villains) of the apocalypse would you build your team around? If you’re the sentimental type, or share director Edgar Wright’s thinking, you may cast aside pragmatism and simply gather your friends and loved ones at your side when your life is on the line… go see The World’s End to see how well that would work out.
The World’s End is in theaters now. Be sure to read our review.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.