On the surface, movie heroes, villains and anti-heroes appear to only have a gritty exterior that is impervious to the fastest of bullets and strongest of blades. The truth is, while these tough guys will scrap at a moment’s notice, they also have a soft side saved for those closest to them – their pets.
A good example of this is former hitman John Wick (Keanu Reeves), who is forced out of retirement when some not-very-smart gangsters kill his beagle – a gift from his dying wife. He then goes on a killing spree wreaking havoc and exacting revenge – all in the name of his beloved, murdered pooch.
While Wick is the latest tough guy to have an animal companion, he is not the first. We’ve assemble a list of some of our favorite movie tough guys and the pets they love.
Ghost Dog and his pigeons – Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
Sometimes a man just wants to go to his roof and practice being a samurai, while his homing pigeons look on – that’s all hit man Ghost Dog wanted to do. Technically, he brought on the demise of his feathered friends at the hands of the mob by killing one of their own, but retaliation turned out to be wrong move on the part of the mob. Never mess with a man’s birds.
Dr. King Schultz and his horse Fric – Django Unchained
Unlike other pets (who typically aren’t very helpful), horses provide their owners with both companionship and servitude. Such is the case with German dentist-turned-bounty hunter Dr. Schultz and his beloved horse, Fric. Not only does Fric pull Schultz’s wagon but provides him with much needed company on the long, lonely western trails.
Robert Neville and his dog Sam – I am Legend
If it were up to Robert Neville, he would have chosen the companionship of his wife and son over that of Sam the dog – living in a city full of zombie-like creatures tends to influence one’s decisions like that. Even though things didn’t turn out as well as he hoped, Neville risked his life to save Sam’s, and in turn, Sam gave up his life for Neville.
Max and his dog – Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
After his family was brutally killed by the Toecutter gang, Max began roaming the desert in search of gasoline and ammunition for his saw-offed shotgun – his only companion, an Australian Cattle dog, loyally by his side the whole time. Though he never named the canine (presumably to keep from becoming attached), the two were inseparable up to the moment a crossbow bolt was shot by a member of The Humungus’ group of outlaw bikers. Needless to say, it did not end well for the bikers.
Sherman “Preacher” Dudley and his parrot – Deep Blue Sea
Preacher works as the head chef in an underwater lab, called Aquatica, where all he wants to do is teach people how to make the perfect omelet, while hanging out with his parrot. Unfortunately, after breaking loose, one of the sharks being studied at the lab ate his bird, so of course he killed the only way a chef could – with an exploding oven.
John Carter and his alien “dog” Woola – John Carter
Canine-like companions can be found anywhere, not just Earth, as former Confederate Army Captain John Carter found out when he was transported from Earth to Barsoom (Mars). One of the first creatures he encounters is Woola (a playful Martian calot), who becomes Carter’s most loyal friend while on the planet, saving him numerous times from the more dangerous inhabitants of the Martian planet.
Richard B. Riddick and his jackal – Riddick
As a Furyan, Riddick has always been the quintessential loner type – which is why he first uses the young jackal pup as a guinea pig for Mud Demon poison. But as the two grow and heal together they form a bond, much like a human does with a German shepherd. When a group of mercenaries tracks Riddick to the barren planet where he’s been marooned, they make two mistakes: 1. They try to kill him, 2. They kill his jackal – both bad moves.
Ivan Vanko and his cockatoo – Iron Man 2
As a villain with genius-level intellect, Ivan Vanko has more than his share of odd characteristics: dirty, messy hair, overly abundant amount of tattoos, gold teeth, and…a cockatoo? As it would turn out, Ivan’s bond with his white, domesticated bird was stronger than anyone could imagine, as Justin Hammer would find out when he tried to swap out Vanko’s bird with an imposter. A bird can’t really help you in a fight but it can make a great companion – whether you’re a superhero or supervillain.
Dar and his ferrets, Kodo and Podo – The Beastmaster
As a stolen prince that can telepathically communicate with animals, Dar is able to command any beast he wishes, but he actually befriends four unlikely partners: Sharak the eagle, Ruh the black tiger and a couple of stealthy ferrets, Kodo and Podo. Dar’s bond with those animals is so great, so special, that Kodo actually saves his skin by attacking the evil sorcerer Maax and in the process, gives up his own life. It was a true act of loyalty and love between man and beast.
Charlie Costello and his Shih Tzu Bonny – Seven Psychopaths
Charlie Costello is a wildly unpredictable and extremely violent gangster who is ridiculously fond of his pet dog – a Shih Tzu named Bonny. When Costello’s prized pup was stolen by the scam artist Billy (who moonlights as the deranged killer, Jack of Diamonds) and Hans (who is also the vindictive mad man, The Quaker), he stops at nothing to recover her – including murdering loved ones and strangers. If that isn’t proof of a powerful bond between dog and master, then we don’t know what is.
Whether they have four legs or two, feathers or fur, even the most gruffest and toughest of guys in movies enjoy support and companionship from the animal kingdom. Most of the people on this list would kill you (or bake you a cake) without a second thought but they all have a tender spot in their heart for their pets – no, their best friends.
John Wick starts his revenge in theaters and IMAX October 24th, 2014.
Follow me on Twitter – @MoviePaul – and share your pet pictures with me.