The 10 Most Badass Movie Combat Units

Published 2 years ago by , Updated July 11th, 2012 at 7:39 am, This is a list post.

10 Badass Movie Combat Units The Expendables 2 has pretty much punched its way into theaters on swagger alone, collecting some of the most badass tough guys ever to appear onscreen into one unbeatable team. Inspired by that level of badassery, we here at Screen Rant selected ten other great combat units who have left their knuckle prints and shell casings indented in the silver screen. But before we get into the list, a few ground rules that helped us pick the candidates: 1) The teams have to number three or more 2) The teams have to have been assembled for the purpose of combat 3) The teams have to have kicked ass (those that simply bled and died need not apply). Now that we have the ground rules out of the way, lets meet our top 10 most badass movie combat units:

The Earps & Doc Holliday - 'Tombstone'

Tombstone Kurt Russell Val Kilmer Sam Elliott and Bill Paxton It takes a real badass to walk into an old Western town overrun by a gang of outlaws and declare that they're going to clean up the place - but that's exactly what Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) did in the 1993 movie adaption of the Tombstone legend. The Earp Brothers wanted to live peaceful lives of wealth and comfort in Tombstone; but when a ruthless band of Outlaws start terrorizing the town... well... once a badass lawman, always a badass lawman. Aside from the fact that Kurt Russell and Sam Elliott are iconic tough guys in their own right, Tombstone's real badass shining star is undoubtedly Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday, a refined and cultured whiskey-swilling, hard-loving, chain-smoking, gun-slinging, fatally ill badass. The epic showdown scene where Holliday confronts outlaw gunslinger Johnny Ringo (Michael Biehn) in a high-noon-style draw still remains one of the greatest Western showdowns of all time, and forever immortalized the phrase "I'm ya huckleberry."

Dutch's Commando Unit - 'Predator'

predator commandos dutch schwarzenegger expendables One way to gauge the toughness of a movie combat unit is by observing how hard they are to kill - and Predator is a movie that takes this concept quite literally. Looking back on it, the cast of Predator was badass enough to rival The Expendables: you had Arnold Schwarzenegger as "Dutch" the tough-as-nails leader of an elite American commando unit, and a team that included the likes of Bill Duke (Menace II Society), Carl Weathers (Rocky), Jesse "The Body" Ventura, writer/director Shane Black (Iron Man 3) and of course, Sonny Landham as "Billy" the Native American commando who faced the Predator with nothing but his Bowie knife. How much more badass can you get? All you need to know is that these guys were so badass that an alien hunter came all the way down from space just to battle them - and that alien ultimately went home in a body bag. 'Nuff said.

The Colonial Space Marines - 'Aliens'

aliens cast expendables Being hunted by one alien killing machine is, admittedly, a lot less badass than being hunted by a whole army of alien killing machines. When Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) learns that the planet where she first discovered the Xenomorph is now a fully terraformed colony, she's horrified. When contact with the colony is lost, Ripley knows just how bad it is - but the Colonial Space Marines she accompanies back to LV-426 had no idea. Trapped in a remote bunker, with the whole alien swarm bearing down on them, Ripley and the Marines had no choice but to - as the age-old adage goes - "nut up, or shut up." And nut up they did indeed. So if you can't admire just how bravely a squad of marines stood in the face of certain death by a horrific enemy, you need to do the backstroke in a volcano just to prove to me that you're tougher.

Fellowship of the Ring - 'Lord of the Rings'

Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring (2) Imagine if you needed to destroy the most evil object in existence. Now imagine that in order to complete this unthinkable mission, you had to gather the greatest warriors from across the world - a top-tier combination of combat skill, swordsmanship, archery, magic - not to mention the strength of will and purity of heart to resist being corrupted by the most evil influence there ever was. That team would have to be pretty badass, huh? If you've seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy, then you know that the battles and darkness faced by the Fellowship of the Ring were fierce, and were not faced without pain and loss. The entire fate of the world was literally resting on these guys' shoulders - yet they stood fast before armies of monsters that would have most other badasses on this list messing themselves. Finally, imagine doing all this in a world where there is no such thing as a gun - just you and your blade, bow and/or wand. Yeah, pretty bad ass.

Spartan Warriors - '300'

300 King Leonidas and the Spartans The 300 Spartans who fought the invading Persian hordes of Xerxes at the The Battle of Thermopylae are badass on a whole other level. Other combat units on this list faced grave harm and unbeatable odds with bravery - these Spartans marched into certain death with a happy smile on their faces. In fact, I don't know whether to qualify the Spartans as badass, or just plain crazy - because when your best defensive strategy involves building a wall using the corpses of hundreds of your slain enemies, "crazy" is a term that definitely applies. It's also pretty rare to see a king who is more of a  hardcore warrior than any of his soldiers - but that is exactly who King Leonidas was (hell, even his queen was a badass fighter!). While other warriors make a career of combat, for Leonidas and his Spartans battle and bloodshed were a way of life - and they get bonus points for kicking ass while half-naked. Name another combat unit that can do that.

The Dirty Dozen - 'The Dirty Dozen'

dirty dozen expendables If you really want to talk about badass movie combat units, you have to go back to the old days when leading men were made of steel. In 1967, The Dirty Dozen was released and remains, to this day, one of the foremost instructional videos on total Nazi ownage. The Dirty Dozen was a team led by Mr. Movie Badass himself, Lee Marvin, and the U.S.A. military-grade murderers included Jim Brown, Charles Bronson, John Cassavetes,and Donald Sutherland - with guys like Ernest Borgnine and Robert Ryan kicking them in the ass just for good measure. This team was SO badass that certain members (Brown, Bronson) carried their tough guy images into the next decade. If you aren't into the classics, or consider the Inglourious Basterds to be the foremost experts in the "Nazi killing business," then you need to guess again and snatch up a copy of The Dirty Dozen.

The Rebel Alliance - 'Star Wars'

Star Wars Rebel Alliance The Fellowship of the Ring might've had the fate of an entire world resting on their shoulders, but the Rebel Alliance had the fate of an entire universe resting on theirs. Episode IV is called "A New Hope" with good reason: because until Luke Skywalker warp-drove off of Tattooine to seek his destiny, the universe didn't have any hope! Yet, even in the face of total darkness there were still badasses who were determined to take a stand, with just one - count him - one Jedi left at their side. We all know the main players - but what about the often unsung heroes of the Rebel Alliance? I'm talking about Wedge, Lando, Admiral Ackbar and all those brave members of the Red, Gold, Echo, Rogue and other squadrons. Death Stars, Sith Lords, empires, bounty hunters, space gangsters - all of them fell before the might and bravery of the Rebel Alliance!

Captain Miller's Rescue Squad - 'Saving Private Ryan'

saing private ryan expendables How much is one man's life worth? Is it worth the lives of a dozen of his brothers? Such was the question that plagued the minds of the brave Rangers in Saving Private Ryan. Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) barely survived the scathing horrors of D-Day, only to be handed a veritable suicide rescue mission to rescue the last son of a grieving mother. The mission was hell, few made it back, and the sentiment amongst the soldiers carrying out the task was far from one of macho bravado. However, attitude isn't what makes these soldiers so badass - it was their ability to find bravery and greater purpose in a hopeless situation. The guys in Private Ryan proved that some obligations cannot be ignored, even when you have all the reason in the world to do so. And that is truly badass.

The Avengers

15 Characters for Avengers 2 Movie Sequels The life of a superhero is hard enough - but it becomes downright impossible when the threat you are facing is bigger than what one heroic man (or woman) can handle. Sometimes, the most badass thing a warrior can do is rely on a little help from his/her friends. Each member of the Avengers is a badass in their own right - put them together, and you get a force for good that the entire universe (literally) sits up and takes notice of. With a membership that includes the greatest soldier in the world, two master spies, a high-tech armored knight, a (demi)god who can rain down thunder or a jade giant who can beat gods to a pulp, director Joss Whedon showed us - in one particularly impressive action montage - that the combination of Earth's Mightiest Heroes is a badass force for good the likes of which the world has never seen.

The Seven Ronin/Gunslingers - 'Seven Samurai'/'Magnificent Seven'

Magnificent Seven & SevenSamurai What makes a team worthy of the number one spot on our list? In my opinion, it is the adherence to a strict code of honor -  protecting those who cannot protect themselves, even when nothing is gained and so much is lost. No film illustrates this principal better than Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai - and by extension, John Sturges' Western-era remake, The Magnificent Seven. In each version, a small village is repeatedly pillaged by bandits, and the villagers recruit a famous warrior to defend them - who in turn recruits six other skilled warriors. When the bandits try to lay siege to the village, the warriors stand their ground - even though some of the petty villagers do not deserve their loyalty. The bandits are ultimately defeated, but victory is bittersweet: the warriors gain nothing, and suffer heavy losses. Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven remind us that a warrior's code - while a powerful and honorable thing - often comes with many scars, and few rewards. It takes the utmost strength of character to know that and still step onto a battlefield to defend the meek and (not so) innocent - making this a story of noble sacrifice so badass, they had to tell it twice.

The Expendables 2 Cast How did you like our top 10 picks for the most badass movie combat units? Are there any teams you feel we left out? If you want to see the latest entry in the long legacy of badass movie combat units, check out The Expendables and The Expendables 2 to see how Sly and the gang stack up against other badass movie teams of the past.
TAGS: 300, alien, kill bill, lord of the rings, predators, star wars, the expendables

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  1. Colonial marines should have been number 1. And rebel alliance number 10.

    • sully311,

      You mean the same Colonial marines that got their asses kicked, were saved by a civilian woman and had only one survivor? :-P

      BTW, keep in mind that “Aliens” is my all time favorite movie.

      Vic

      • Yeah sure..with them things runnin around? You can me out…

  2. And what about the gangsters in resivour dogs, and the basterds.

    • Exactly the ones I also thought should have been on there.

      • Sorry guys, the Basterds were a rehash of the Dirty Dozen and the Dirty Dozen were more badass IMHO.

        The Resivour dogs guys were crooks after a score – not a combat unit. Check the rules up top.

  3. Good point vic. And aliens is my fav too.

  4. Kofi, wouldn’t the deadly viper squad count in that criminal category too?

  5. I thought I might see Hackman’s team from Uncommon Valor in there somewhere, but I can live with these choices.

  6. The 300 Spartans were tough but that movie does not inspire manliness. It was entirely an exercise in gawking at naked dudes. Kids couldn’t leave with patches of chest hair because they’d be hairier than the Spartans. Good movie but packed with more homo-eroticism than “Batman and Robin.”

    • The spartans could have literally been having sex on screen and there would still be less homo-eroticism than Batman and Robin

      • With each other

  7. kofi, nice NICE list and fantastic atricle..i just cant comment here because i’ll use too many F-bombs :)

  8. Yup, Lord of the Rings made it in there. You made a good choice.

  9. How about the Nazi killing crew from Inglorious Basterds? Til Schweiger’s character alone is one of the most badass things I’ve seen on film.

  10. Considering how often the Empire stomped on their necks, I’m not sure why the Rebel Alliance is on this list.

    • Beause they blew up the Death Star of course…. twice.

  11. you may need to make some changes to this list in the near future. The Avengers can easily knock someone out of their spot depending on how well Whedon does.

    great list and i’m not arguing but have you considered…

    Full Metal Jacket
    Warriors
    Tropic Thunder
    Hellboy

    does being reminded of these films make you reconsider who made it and who didnt

    • hmm im thinking not. lol

    • almost forgot “the Professionals” from 1966, that was a pretty good movie

      also some more i remembered

      “Last Castles”
      “Watchmen”
      “Kung Fu Panda”
      “Jaws” (thats a real stretch being only 3 and that 1 is a scientist and another is a whimp policeman, but still, it’s JAWS)

      • I don’t think you can count Watchmen. They never really worked as a full unit. Sometimes they would share information, but at most they had two guys working together when fighting crime.

      • Brody a wimp? The same character who tried to get the beach closed to save lives and was overruled by the mayor? Facing his fear of water? The same Chief Brody whose parting words to the shark was ‘Smile you son of a …” and blew the fish to kingdom come? That wimpy policeman?

        The “scientist” was brave enough to get in the cage and attempt to kill the shark. He survived the shark attack. He also brought the barrels to help track the shark, and (while not knowing it at the time) the oxygen tanks that helped kill it. How about the usual dangers of aquatic research? True, it may not seem bad ass, but comparing scars on legs to Quint must count for something.

        I think a case could be made. I don’t think it would make the list anyway, but a case could be made.

  12. Great piece, Kofi. How about the Bloodpack in Blade II, or Jack Spade’s crew in I’m Gonna Git You Sucka? Isaac Hayes: one-man army. :-)

    • BLOOD PACK! Yes! Ron Pearlman and Donnie Yen. Enough said.

    • Blood pack was no. 12 on the list :-)

      • Which begs the question “Who was number 11?”!

        • No. 11 were the Klingons or the X-Men. We Couldn’t decide.

          • Ah, that’s fair enough!

          • Only a weakling humaaan would not have Klingons as number 1!!! :-P

  13. Actually not a bad list, overall I like the choices. I think, though, that the Rebel Alliance and the Wolverines from Red Dawn are in the same category. Neither is a professional unit, both made of civilians that took up the cause of the oppressed government, and when you look at Eps 1-3… I mean, talk about the “party of ‘no’” because restoring the Galactic Alliance ain’t all that shiny, so all they had was “We hate the Empire”.

    • The Rebel Alliance has military structure – Generals, Admirals, strike team squadrons, even a knight. Whatever they MAY have been before the Empire came along, this was a unit of rebels who had become warriors.

      Red Dawn was a team of high school kids using guerrilla tactics to strike back at a military force. If they had called him “General Jed” I would’ve put the Wolverines on this list for sure.

      • Alright, I’ll concede on the Rebel Alliance, though in my mind most of them are ineffective cannon fodder… /shrug

  14. no A-team huh?

    thats kool they arent that great anyways but i feel like theres a group missing from the list…not sure who yet though

  15. Nice, I like that you paired both versions Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven.

    • hmm..i woulda left the magnificent 7 out, but its not my list, and its a damn good list as it is.

  16. oh and if you can have the fellowship then you can put the transformers on the list as well as im pretty sure they could merc any of them

    i realize they are robots and therefore not human but at the same time the elfs and wizards, arent human either although the hobbits and dwarfs are so thats pretty cool if you think about it for more than 10 seconds

  17. but i totally get why transformers arent on the list

  18. What about the firefly crew?

    • I agree, the firefly crew should definately be on this list just by how well they are able to improv with each other when things don’t go according to plan, allowing them to survive against criminal gangs, government black ops groups, psychotic space cannibals, etc. They really worked like a team that had full trust and confidence in each of it’s members and you never had one of those ‘why is that person here?’ moments with any of the members. They all had a specific purpose beyong being another gun hand.

      One last thing can you really call that guy trying to fight a Predator with a knife badass? It just seems pretty stupid considering he just got shot in the back of the head without actually slowing the Predator down, which was his entire purpose. What’s even more hilarious about that scene is that the Predator could have even just snuck past that guy without him ever noticing.

  19. … the entire country of Scotland in Braveheart. :)

    • “I’m serious Robert.”

      “SO AM I!!!”

      I agree the Braveheart army did their thing.

    • Funny thing about that movie, Scots didn’t wear kilts until over 300 years after William Wallace died… :)

  20. The Predator gang was more bad-azz than any of the other groups. Sauron and his army wouldn’t have stood a chance against Dutch and his band of commandos! I mean, Jesse Ventura didn’t even have time to BLEED he was too busy kicking butt!!! :P Swords against automatic weapons? C’MON!

    Seriously though, good list, and I think I am going to go home tonight and watch both Predator AND Aliens: don’t have to work until 1pm tomorrow, so that is the creature double feature of the best kind!

  21. What about “The Matrix”… Neo, Trinity , and Morpheus kicked some ass in that movie.

  22. I wanna say the goodfellas gang, bug lori rules won’t apply :)

  23. It is too bad that “thieves” could not be included, because I would have made one exception: Kelly’s Heroes. But I’m glad to see the Marines from Aliens, The Dirty Dozen, Seven Samurai, The Fellowship, and Dutch’s team (Predator) on the list. A nice surprise was the Earps and Doc Holiday from Tombstone.

    But come on…The Rebel Alliance? I suppose if you simply said “The Jedi Order” I’d nod my head and agree. But you didn’t, so I can’t. I also question the inclusion of the Viper assassination squad for the same reason. I mean, I guess you could make a case for the Crazy 88s… and the unit from Saving Private Ryan??? You have GOT to be kidding me.

    Who would I suggest instead?

    A commenter mentioned The Warriors. And I say, darn right. The Warriors are good the best.

    Five Deadly Venoms {{——-what was that?!

    Arthur’s Knights in ‘King Arthur’ AND the Saxons!

    • You can’t really say the crazy 88′s were bad ass, when all 88 of them got killed by The Bride.

      • Then this post would have to exclude Dutch’s unit from Predator, seeing how the Predator killed everyone but Dutch. Correct?

        • Yes. How is any team a bad ass when they get killed by 1 person or alien?

      • As I understand it, 88 referred to the number of keys on a piano, not the actual number of the Crazy 88 (who were just sword fodder).

    • I thought about the five deadly venoms, too! I wasn’t sure if the rules applied to them, though.

      • WOW the 5 Deadly Venoms… I haven’t seen that in over 25 years!! Surprised Hollywood hasn’t made a remake out of it.

  24. Meh don’t really care either way about the majority of the list not how I would place it, but no big argument all are pretty acceptable except number 10. I didn’t find anything bad ass about the Kill Bill Unit. One there was nothing even remotely cool about any of them, but that aside we don’t see them act as a unit so it kind of seems like we can’t really say they are a great group. Not to mention Kill Bill is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen in my life. Still not a question of quality just bad ass and The Kill Bill girls were not.

    The rest of the list is ok enough.

    • lol daniel, i like how you take every opportunity to rip into any tarantino film

      • That is because all Tarantino films suck. Haven’t seen ONE that I have even remotely enjoyed. Most overrated film maker in history.

  25. The Lord of the Rings was on this list?! Hahahaha!!! How about the “Munich” crew instead?

  26. I am curious why no mention of Mel Gibbsons group in The Patriot ? Is it simply because it’s unpopular to like Mel Gibbson ?

  27. No its cause mel gibson is a freak, not a badass.

  28. How about the X-Men from the first two movies. Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops, and Jean were Badass.

  29. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. ‘Nuff said.

    • kofi gave valid reasons for not including them..scroll up

      • Saying that his opinion is that the Basterds are not bad-ass enough is not a “valid reason.” That is subjective. He certainly has the right not to include them on his list, but I also have the right to disagree.

    • The Basterds were an obvious first choice, but look at a couple of important factors:

      A) The actors playing them. Brad Pitt? Eli Roth? BJ Novak? Sam Levine? Even though it’s about characters, not actors, Half the team LOOK like pretty boys or just…boys.

      B) The Basterds are kinda buffoons when you think about it. They make tons of stupid decisions and only accomplish their mission by pure circumstance. It’s actually the little French chick who executes the only successful plan. The Basterds are also bested at every turn by a much smarter Nazi (Christoph Waltz). Not a good look.

      C) The Basterds rep is built mostly on exposition (what we’re told) and one scene of Nazi Ownage. Yes “The Bear Jew” is badass but he only really shines bright once, and only briefly then.

      D) Compare the Basterds to the Dirty Dozen – Lee Marvin, Jim Brown, Charles Bronson, John Cassavetes. Those dudes were military criminals with life or death sentences who were unleashed on the Nazis.

      Now tell which on of these units would win in a battle against each other (cuz there wasn’t room for both on this list) – a couple of baby-faced kids, the director of Hostel, Diane Kruger and the prettiest man in the world, or the guys who went on to each have a career in film playing badasses for the next couple decades?

      Basterds is fresh in our minds right now, but the bigger picture must be observed

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