The 10 Most Kick-Ass Movie Dads

Published 3 years ago by , Updated June 28th, 2012 at 12:30 pm, This is a list post.

Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker Father's Day is a day to honor our dads - the men who helped bring us into the world and teach us survive it. To celebrate the holiday, we at Screen Rant compiled a list of 10 cinematic fathers who kick serious ass. Whether these proud papas are attempting to save their children or trying to control the intergalactic universe, these dads are always willing to engage in a fight to protect their children (and families) when they are in danger. This list is for all of the fathers out there who kick ass in real life, including my own dad. Happy Father's Day - and enjoy!

Darth Vader, 'Star Wars' Trilogy (James Earl Jones/David Prowse)

Darth Vader in Star Wars Sure, Darth Vader isn't the best dad out there, and he's awful to shop for on Father's Day (what kind of tie actually goes with an all-black mechanical suit?). In the original Star Wars trilogy, the older Anakin Skywalker is known for taking down his opponents and murdering those who disappoint him. But inside that cruel facade is a father who at the end of the series eventually makes the right decision in protecting his son, Luke Skywalker. Telling Luke about his identity minutes after chopping off his arm in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) isn't the most paternal thing to do, but there's no denying that Vader was a father who kicked a lot of intergalactic butt.

Tom Mullen, 'Ransom' (Mel Gibson)

Mel Gibson in Ransom Tom Mullen isn't your typical father. A successful entrepreneur, Mullen seems to have a perfect life - until his young son is kidnapped and he is asked to pay millions of dollars to get him back in the 1996 drama, Ransom. Not one to stand by and be manipulated, Mullen takes the situation into his own hands and uses the media and his money against the kidnappers. Despite those who criticize his methods, Mullen proves to be one tough father. Holding his child hostage was a huge mistake and this successful businessman proves that he is one dad that isn't to be messed with.

Frank Castle, 'The Punisher' (Thomas Jane)

Thomas Jane in The Punisher Early on in The Punisher, Frank Castle watches as members of his family are murdered at a reunion. His wife and young child are two of the innocent victims whose blood is spilled. But never one to accept his fate, Castle personally seeks vengeance against the family of low-lifes who caused his misfortune. Before tragedy invaded his life, although he was a cop, he was more of a gentle soul - but once his switch was flipped by the murder of his family, Frank became a formidable killing machine with no remorse whatsoever for those in the crosshairs of his extensive collection of weapons.

Paul Kersey, 'Death Wish' (Charles Bronson)

Charles Bronson in Death Wish In Death Wish (1974), Charles Brosnan stars as Paul Kersey, a man whose life is changed forever after his daughter is raped and his wife is brutally murdered. Instead of letting such harrowing circumstances cause him to wallow in self-pity and despair, he becomes a vigilante facing off against New York City criminals. The original Death Wish launched a long-running and successful film series and it showed how one man fought for justice against those who had done so much wrong to his family - and others as well. And for those who want to see this character return to the streets, a Death Wish reboot is reportedly on the way....

Ip Man, 'Ip Man' (Donnie Yen)

ip Man In 2010, Screen Rant's Paul Young called Ip Man the best movie of the year. He wrote that the movie "is quite possibly the best martial arts film to come out of Hong Kong in the past 10 years." The film, he noted, revolved around a pacifist Kung Fu Master played by Donnie Yen, who makes the decision to fight back against the Imperialist Japanese army that takes control of his village. Like many of the fathers on the list, the title character doesn't live a life of violence until his family is threatened. When that happens, this dad takes matters into his own hands and shows that his skills are strong enough to take on those who wish to do harm to those he loves. And this father isn't done yet. Yen is rumored to return to the role in Ip man 3D.

Harry Tasker, 'True Lies' (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies Harry Tasker is a boring, unremarkable husband. At least that's what his family thinks he is in the 1994 action film, True Lies. In reality, he's a counter-terrorist agent leading a double life and trying to protect his family from his dangerous job. But as the movie progresses, his family learns about Tasker's true identity. When both his wife and daughter are put in danger, he shows how far he is willing to go to protect them - and that's pretty damned far. And for fans of the premise, there's talk of both a True Lies sequel and a possible television series.

John Matrix, 'Commando' (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando Retirement can be a relaxing period in a father's life - after spending years working, a dad can use the time to relax with his family and loved ones. But  for John Matrix, a retired military operative who simply wants to be left alone in the 1985 drama, Commando, things take quite a different turn. When his daughter is kidnapped by a former colleague, Matrix ends his retirement and fights to get her back. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the only actor to make our list twice and he deserves it. He is a one man army in this perfect example of kitschy 80s action fare. Retirement never looked so exciting.

Damon Macready / Big daddy, 'Kick-Ass' (Nicolas Cage)

Nicolas Cage in Kick-Ass We would have been remiss not to add the father from Kick-Ass  (read our review here) to our list of fathers who, well - kick ass. As Damon Macready (also known as Big daddy), Nic Cage stars as a superhero wannabe who fights crime with his daughter Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) and a wimpy teenager who fights crime under the alias Kick-Ass. Throughout the movie, Big daddy tries to look out for his young daughter and new ally. Although his parenting techniques are seriously questionable, he's a father who wants his daughter to be self-reliant and fight for justice. And along the way, he does kick a lot of ass.

John McClane, 'Die Hard' (Bruce Willis)

Bruce Willis in Die Hard Number 2 on our list is officer John McClane, a New York cop attending a Christmas party as the original Die Hard begins. But when the party is hijacked by terrorists, he must use every tool in his arsenal of experience to fight against a psychotic mastermind villain named Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his greedy accomplices. McClane starts out the movie as a (separated) husband and father, but he soon becomes a one-man army. Although his children aren't hostages, the media uses them in a newscast, putting McClane and his wife Holly in even more danger. But this father proves that he isn't willing to back down - and will do anything to see his kids again. "Welcome to the party, pal." Indeed. This is one dad that you always want on your side of a fight.

Bryan Mills, 'Taken' (Liam Neeson)

Liam Neeson in Taken And finally, our number 1 pick - the most kick-ass movie dad. Over the years Liam Neeson has played a series of tough guys in films - and Taken (2008) was no different. In this movie, he played a proud papa whose daughter is kidnapped overseas. (Make sure you check out our review here.) As Bryan Mills, Neeson is a retired CIA operative who takes on his daughter's kidnappers one by one, searching for any way to bring his beloved child back to safety. He personified a bad-ass dad, and even though he was in his late 50s when the film was made he was completely believable as a dad you do NOT want to mess with. Taken quickly became of Neeson's biggest roles and its sequel is now in production.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies Here is the full list of our top 10 cinematic kick-ass fathers. They may not be the best fathers in the world but they are parents who are willing to kick butt to protect or avenge their children. 10. Darth Vader, Star Wars Trilogy (James Earl Jones/David Prowse) 9. Tom Mullen, Ransom (Mel Gibson) 8. Frank Castle, The Punisher (Thomas Jane) 7. Paul Kersey, Death Wish (Charles Bronson) 6. Ip Man, Ip Man (Donnie Yen) 5. Harry Tasker, True Lies (Arnold Schwarzenegger) 4. John Matrix, Commando (Arnold Schwarzenegger) 3. Damon Macready /Big daddy, Kick-Ass (Nicolas Cage) 2. John McClane, Die Hard (Bruce Willis) 1. Bryan Mills, Taken (Liam Neeson) Follow me on Twitter @johnhanlon.


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  1. The Comedian (yes, that was a joke).

  2. I’d have mad max over the punisher. He stopped at nothing for revenge

    • Nat,

      Ohhhh… good one. Damn…


      • @ Vic,

        I assume your number one pick is George Bailey, right? :D

      • Indiana Jones was a father to right?

        Thats just my two cents, good list, but I would have Indy on it and not have Arnold on it twice.

    • @Nat

      I would have to agree. Personally I didn’t feel like Thomas Jane’s Punisher was very kick ass at all…

  3. What about Viggo Mortenson as “The Man” in “The Road?”

    • I whole heartedly agree. Viggo was great in that film and was a true epitome of ideal fatherhood.

    • Viggo wasn’t a slouch in a History of Violence either……

  4. Arnold as a movie kick ass Dad.. OK! Arnold as a real kick ass Dad, aaah… not too much. Ask his maid, Consuela… ” No good Dad here…”

    • Meester Arnold no here…

      • need more lemon pledge

  5. I will nominate Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone The Godfather:
    “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”

  6. Angry wee wee tie goes well with a black armored suit according to spaceballs.

  7. Clark Griswold! :)

    Now, a TV list. With Walter White as #1…

    • CLARK!!! HAHAHAHA… Good times, not kick ass, like the name says, but one of the funniest dads in movie history, no doubt about it.

  8. I have two corrections for you guys. For Ip Man, in the title you guys have the actor’s name correctly as Donnie Yen, but in the description you guys have him as Darren Yen.

    And second correction is Thomas Jane’s punisher was not kick ass at all. He spent the majority of the movie fixing a car and putting together some overly complicated plan to make someone seem like he’s cheating with the bad guy’s wife. The moments of “ass kicking” were very far and few between… And honestly, most of the time he BARELY defeats his enemies…

    • Agreed. Ray Stevenson’s Punisher, as well as Punisher: War Zone itself, was a million times more kick-ass. In the film’s very first scene, Punisher kills an entire family while standing on their dinner table, just stabbing, snapping, and burning his way back and forth. Lol.

      • @mercy and jakob

        I agree about Ray Stevenson, but not so much about the movie. I actually disliked Warzone overall, although I liked several scenes within the movie, but to me, the movie was just a bit too cheesy, especially the villains. But out of it all, I REALLY liked Ray Stevenson’s look as the Punisher. He was big and mean looking. I would be scared of him without the guns. Thomas Jane’s version… Not to much. Looked like someone trying to look cool with a skull t-shirt…

        • Shoud read “Not too much.”

    • I always said it, Thomas Jane`s PUNISHER is a total flop. PUNISHER WARZONE lived its expectation (even though it was kind of corny in some scenes)

      • Warzone, the movie that barely made $10 million? That is a FLOP. Punisher with Jane is one of the most underrated movies ever. Not only does he kick a lot of butt, he also outsmarts Travolta to the point that he kills his own wife and best friend before Jane kills him. Genius!

  9. Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills in ‘Taken’ …BAD ASS FATHER ! (sequel coming soon). ARNOLD as John Matrix >>>(the name itself is Bad Ass)

  10. How about Viggo Mortenson in “History of Violence” as an honorable mention…

    • I think he deserves more than an honorable mention.

  11. Surprise surprise, Bryan Mills from Taken is #1 xD

  12. Think rocky should have made the list personally

    • @ ChrisTypeR

      I agree.

  13. Nice list!

    A few of my favorites:
    1. Henry Jones Sr. in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
    2. David Drayton in The Mist
    3. Thomas Wayne in Batman Begins
    4. Marcus Brody in Jaws
    5. Guido Orifice in Life Is Beautiful
    6. Jor-El in Superman

    • It’s Martin Brody, and I don’t think Thomas Wayne ever kicked anyone’s ass…

      • Hey, thanks for the correction. I got Marcus from Raiders and Martin from Jaws mixed up. Also, true, Thomas Wayne (and even Guido) didn’t physically kick butt; I was thinking of cinematic fathers who are all-around great, just like my dad. :D

        Happy Father’s Day, dads!

    • Seeing the way The Mist ended, I don’t think David Drayton can be considered a kick ass dad

  14. For a different kind of kick-ass father there
    is always Gregory Peck in To Kill A Mockingbird.

  15. Ah…the Outlaw Josey Wales…remember the ass-kicking he did after his wife and child were murdered…

  16. You probably need a kick-ass mothers/wives list as well.

    A few of the top of my head:

    Evelyn Salt – Angelina Jolie (Salt)
    Samantha Caine / Charly Baltimore – Geena Davis (The Long Kiss Goodnight)
    Ellen Ripley – Sigourney Weaver (Get away from her you b****!)
    The Bride – Uma Thurman (Kill Bill)

  17. What’s with all the hate for Thomas Jane? I preferred him over Ray.

    • @ Martin

      Though Stevenson looked more like the comic book counterpart imo, Thomas Jane i thought did well aswell. Imo his film was better than Warzone.

    • @Martin

      I honestly didn’t like either movie. I thought the Thomas Jane Punisher was too boring. I wanted to see more ass kicking from someone named “Punisher” but he ended up almost getting his ass kicked several times. And they just spent WAY too much time with other stuff like him fixing a car (that literally gets used ONCE before it’s destroyed) and him setting up some complicated plot against someone. I know the Punisher in the comics comes up with elaborate plans too, but they are elaborate plans to be able to kill as many people as he can. Not to set up one guy…

      Then on the other side of the coin, Warzone was just too much cheese and too weak of a plot. They had the action I was looking for, Punisher punching a guy’s face in, blowing a guy’s head off with a shotgun, impaling someone and then setting him on fire, and some other parts. So those individual scenes were awesome, but again, they lacked the Punisher coming up with a cunning plan to kill people. In the original script of Warzone before that idiot director changed it and made it stupid, in the beginning scene where he crashes that dinner party, it began the same way, he cut the power, then when he appeared on the table, he killed everyone before they realized what was happening. But after that, all of the goons were on on their way to take him out. In the stupid movie, he hangs on a chandelier and spins around shooting people, which is pretty dumb, you’re pretty much a target in the center of the room… That was the director’s idea. The original script had him run out the back door then he jumped into a little machine gun nest that he prepared earlier, and when the bad guys ran out the back door after him, he mowed them all down. That’s the Punisher that should have been shown in that movie… But oh well…

      I am still waiting on a good punisher movie, but between the actors, I definitely liked Ray Stevenson better. He simply looks correct for the role. Plus Ray Stevenson seems to be good at playing that ruthless killer that’s actually good in the end…

  18. I think that Jango Fett should have made the list. He’s a good, kick-ass father for his little self, Boba.

    • Boba’s literally a chip off the old block.

  19. The more I think of this, the more characters come to mind.
    There’s Samuel L. Jackson playing Carl Lee Hailey in A Time to Kill, getting revenge on a bunch of racists for kidnapping, raping and trying to kill his daughter.
    Then there’s Don Cheadle, playing Sylvester Carrier, a strong father protecting his family as a drunken, racist mob comes through his town, killing residents and burning down the town.

    • How could I forget to mention Laurence Fishburne’s portrayal of Furious Styles in “Boyz N the Hood”? He’s tough and smart.

  20. The Father’s & their movies i like outta the list would be,

    1. Anakin Skywalker(Darth Vader)- Star wars 4-6
    2. Harry Tasker- True Lies
    3. John Matrix- Commando
    4. John McClane- Die Hard
    5. Frank Castle- The Punisher(04)

  21. What about Kyle Reese from The Terminator?

  22. Great list. Just to add a few.

    Jingle All the Way and The Patriot had a couple kick *** dads

    • HOW could we forget Patriot? He took on an entire army for his kids.

  23. Good list, i wouldnt change anything but i would suggest a few other fathers i think are kick-ass

    Mr. Incredible
    Benjamin Martin “The Patriot”
    Tom Hank’s Character from “Road to Perdition”
    Cobb from “Inception”
    Forrest Gump

    • Mr. Incredible is a good one…

  24. 1st off Happy Fathers Day to any of my fellow Ranters and anyone on the Screen Rant staff who are proud papas ;)
    #1 VADER…
    Without question IMO.
    I know he’s evil and did some wicked s**t but I can’t lie if I was Luke after he revealed himself I would have said No Kidding?? Let’s go tear this motha up Pops!! It’s cool that you chopped off my hand I could learn to use my lightsaber with the other one. ;)

  25. What about Mr. Brooks? Kevin Costner, the serial killer dad.

  26. Lets see a sequel to Commando! with a grown up Alyssa Milano

  27. I think Arnold should have been on this list three times because of his role in Jingle All The Way. Any father who would fight a giant Santa Claus, wrestle with a mall full of raging parents and run all through the town while taking on a psychotic mailman just to get his son an action figure is a kick ass father to me.

  28. When I read the headline for the article I only thought of two people: Darth Vader and Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson’s character from Taken) — glad they both got spots on the list.

  29. What about Bill Cosby’s character in “Ghost Dad”? He was pretty kick-ass! :P