There is a long list of awesome weapons in the history of cinema, and it’s about time we narrow them down to the top 25 (in our all-knowing, unerring opinion).
From weapons the size of a moon to a gun no larger than your pinkie, there’s plenty of variety on the list. But we couldn’t add them all – a couple just missed the cut. The Bear Jew’s baseball bat from Inglourious Basterds, the prawn electric Tesla arc splattering gun from District 9 and the intense .50-caliber, M82 sniper rifle in Smokin’ Aces should be considered honorable mentions.
The actual rankings are based on the capability of the weapon itself. Some sit lower on the list because they would be near useless without the specific user. A few at the top of the list may have been destroyed, but it makes them no less powerful or worthy of the their rank.
On to the list!
The sick stick is an impressive piece of weaponry. It is not lethal, but instills fear in any potential victim. Typically seen in the hands of Precrime officers, it is used in conjunction with the “halo” to subdue those suspected of a future crime. It is only used once in Minority Report, but maybe that’s for the best.
Much like a taser, the baton-shaped stick instantly causes its victims to projectile vomit. Thanks to John Anderton’s (Tom Cruise) quick reflexes, we got to see it in action during an intense chase scene.
The point-of-view gun makes up for its lack of explosive power with pure drama. It packs a punch, but more of an existential one. Once it is fired, anyone in its path will uncontrollably reveal their thoughts to the shooter. According to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the gun was created by the “Intergalactic Consortium of Angry Housewives” in an attempt to control the endings to marital arguments.
Although the weapon cannot be found in the novel on which the film is based, it was a pleasant addition to the movie. And in the hands of the beautiful Zooey Deschanel, any weapon belongs on this list.
Thankfully, when King Koopa (Dennis Hopper) tried to use the De-Evolution gun on Mario (Bob Hoskins), everybody’s favorite plumber used Luigi’s (John Leguizamo) mushroom to block the shot. Unfortunately for Anthony Scapelli, the gun worked moments earlier. When Koopa fired the weapon, missing a diving Mario, it struck Scapelli, turning him into a chimpanzee in a matter of seconds.
The gun is truly unlike any of other weapons on the list. While it doesn’t kill, its ability to turn the toughest human into a goofy chimpanzee is quite enough to fear.
One of the most quoted scenes in movie history has its fame thanks to the customized grenade launcher belonging to Tony Montana (Al Pacino) in Scarface. During his last stand, Montana fends off a handful of assassins from atop his staircase using bullets and grenades. It truly is a piece of incredible machinery, even out of Montana’s lethal hands.
While the weapon is powerful enough to kill dozens of people, it has limited magazine capacity. Moreover, it may have been Montana’s wild nature, but the accuracy is pitiful. With a few minor tweaks, it could jump up a few spots.
Most of the weapons you will find on this list have some kind of firing mechanism, but lack the iconic status of Indiana Jones’ bullwhip. It is a tough task to take an item primarily used for dominatrix bedroom activity and make it one of the most recognizable movie weapons ever. That is precisely what Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford accomplished over the span of three (OK, four) movies.
The bullwhip has saved countless lives, swung Indiana Jones over deadly pits, snagged guns from enemy hands, strangled a handful of foes and even gave the hero a chin scar as a teenager. It has been through quite the journey, and to my knowledge, has never been replaced.
This is no joke. Dr. Evil was on to something in the Austin Powers films when he asked for “sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.” Unaware of his own budget at first, he was given sea bass with laser beams attached to their heads. But eventually he got his way.
Dr. Evil’s loving son, Scott Evil, worked hard to win the heart of his father over Mini-Me. All it took was a retro-fitted laser atop a small shark, but unfortunately for movie fans, it was only used once. Still, that laser has deadly accuracy, at least on henchmen.
Arms dealer Ian Lamont (Jack Black) gave The Jackal exactly what we wanted. The long-range gun is controlled by cell phone or computer and may be aimed using a joystick. The rounds are made from depleted uranium, adding even more menace to the already lethal weapon. Even without The Jackal behind the trigger, it would be on this list.
The only problem with the gun is its accuracy. The first time it is used by The Jackal, we get a sense of the work it needs. Of course, what is a few inches when the results are so explosive? But it drops a few spots because of this glaring flaw. If The Jackal had his way, Lamont would have lost more than his arm during the initial test shot.
Although I’m not convinced Oddjob’s hat is a bowler hat, it is deadly nonetheless. A metal razor lines the rim of his hat and can cut through a stone sculpture. Tilly Masterson saw her demise at the tip of Oddjob’s hat in the James Bond film Goldfinger.
Ironically enough, the hat was also the cause of Oddjob’s own death. But not through the expected method. Instead, he threw the hat at James Bond (Sean Connery) and missed. It became lodged in a wall of metal bars and when Oddjob tried to pry it free, Bond electrocuted the villain.
Quentin Tarantino has been influenced by many works, yet his style adds flair to the already dramatic moments of past cinema. Although the fight scene in Kill Bill between The Bride and Gogo Yubari is exciting and intense, it is drawn from a few existing sources. Most notably, a similar scene is found in “Musashi,” a novel by Eiji Yoshikawa.
Regardless of influence, the weapon is deadly and unpredictable. In the hands of the sinister Gogo Yubari, it is even more lethal. The ball and chain has many options. It is used to choke, slice and strike The Bride.
Although the weapon is her bread and butter, it also indirectly helped The Bride kill Gogo. With all the fancy moves Gogo used to wind up with her chain mace, it didn’t do its job. It may have taken lives in the past, but on screen the chain mace takes none.
To be honest, nothing I can say about the VX gas rocket used by General Hummel (Ed Harris) in The Rock would do it justice. So I’m going to leave you with two quotes from the illustrious Stanley Goodspeed (Nic Cage) to get my point across as to why this belongs on the list:
“Look, I’m just a biochemist. Most of the time, I work in a little glass jar and lead a very uneventful life. I drive a Volvo, a beige one. But what I’m dealing with here is one of the most deadly substances the earth has ever known, so what say you cut me some friggin’ slack!?”
“If the rocket renders it aerosol, it could take out an entire city of people… It’s a cholinesterase inhibitor. Stops the brain from sending nerve messages down the spinal cord within thirty seconds. Any epidermal exposure or inhalation and you’ll know. A twinge at the small of your back as the poison seizes your nervous system…Your muscles freeze, you can’t breathe, you spasm so hard you break your own back and spit your guts out. But that’s after your skin melts off.”
In The Man With The Golden Gun, James Bond’s main foe is arguably not human. While Francisco Scaramanga is a scary man, the gun he uses truly makes him venomous. In the film, his golden gun fires a customized 23-carat bullet. The gun can also be broken down and disguised as various items like a pen and cuff-link, amongst others.
The golden gun has had its fair share of kills. In the hands of Scaramanga it has murdered political celebrities, gangsters, Gibson (a scientist in the film), Hai-Fat (his boss) and agent 002 Bill Fairbanks.
Let’s face it. No body part is more revered in the action genre than Chuck Norris’ fist. Not even Bruce Lee’s legs have as much pull as the clenched hands of Norris. Thanks to Sidekicks, a film many wish to forget, I have a lasting memory of the iconic Chuck Norris. But his abilities are only superseded by his reputation.
It is truly impressive how many henchmen and bumbling assassins have been knocked unconscious at the mercy of his fists. The rest of his body does come into play during fight scenes, but Chuck Norris’ fists have taken the most fame, even crossing over into Family Guy parody. That is the stuff of legend.
When we are first introduced to the explosive nose charge in Mission: Impossible III it is without warning. On a helicopter to safety, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) attempts to save his damsel in distress (Keri Russell), but she dies seconds before he can help her. A charge, planted inside her nose, created a micro-burst that essentially imploded her brain. The result was a disgusting mess of internal debris.
The device is unbelievably fast in its action. Once triggered, it is a matter a milliseconds before death overcomes its victims. Once implanted in the nose of Hunt, it took a defibrillator to counteract the charge. It is difficult to describe just how intense the moments before death can be for a victim of this weapon.
For anybody who saw Iron Man 2 in theaters, one of the most unforgettable scenes involved a weapon that desperately belongs on this list. When Screen Rant king Vic Holtreman told me to wait on this list until I saw Iron Man 2, my anticipation grew every day. In the film, you may recall Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) promoted his new line of weapons with which to equip War Machine. The last was the “Ex-Wife.” Naturally, I presumed this would be the epic weapon.
Boy, was I wrong. The “Ex-Wife” proved to be yet another Hammer dud, but Iron Man’s laser was quite the opposite. Out of nowhere, Iron Man warned War Machine to duck, before priming the ultimate handheld weapon. He began a sort of 360-spin move, but not before initiating a deadly laser beam from each wrist. It instantly decapitated the swarm of enemies around the heroic duo. The same eerie silence overcame audiences as when the Joker’s truck flipped in The Dark Knight.
The bow and arrow is not an illustrious weapon. Following a handheld laser with some wood and string doesn’t exactly win over the ladies. But Robin Hood’s weapon of choice has stood the test of time. The legend of Robin Hood is impossible to imagine without his bow and arrow.
A simple weapon, the bow and arrow needs little introduction or explanation. In the hands of many it is weak and powerless. Yet, with Robin Hood behind it, a bow and arrow can become a cultural staple. He hardly ever misses, and if he does, it may have been on purpose. This is the epitome of a weapon only as good as its shooter, and its shooter is darn good.
The .44 magnum pistol isn’t an overwhelming piece, but it packs a punch. And in the hands of Harry Callahan it doesn’t even need to have a bullet left in the chamber to scare a criminal. Dirty Harry is another film in which the most heavily quoted line is about a weapon.
“I know what you’re thinking — ‘Did he fire six shots or only five?’ Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But, being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”
The Smith & Wesson Model 29 revolver is still popular today thanks to Dirty Harry and the film even led to a spike in sales during its theatrical release. Now you tell me that’s not an influential weapon.
Not every weapon has to look like much, as long as its bite is big, loud and deadly. When Agent J (Will Smith) takes the puny little Noisy Cricket from Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), he is understandably upset. Only when he fires the pinkie-sized gun does he understand its power.
The weapon not only takes a chunk out of its target, but propels the shooter back dozens of feet. It is quite the weapon, but not necessarily put to its best use in Men in Black.
The U.S. Navy has clocked the speed of a railgun at seven times the speed of sound. Of course, you didn’t need to know that to believe it belongs on this list.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has held quite a few guns in his acting career, but few are as intimidating as his pair of railguns in Eraser. Even cooler than the explosive results of firing a railgun in Eraser is the plasma trail it leaves behind.
The swirly, blue trail is eye-popping and adds an extra level of awesome to the weapon. And don’t forget the night-vision scope on the side of the gun, which even uses X-ray technology to see through walls.
The Jericho Missile was created in respect to “how daddy did it,” and it has worked out pretty well so far. Although we only see it fire once, the missile is unforgettable. Did I mention it comes with a free Stark Industries bar/cooler?
Not only does the missile break into 16 individual missiles while in flight, but even Tony Stark guarantees “the bad guys won’t even want to come out of their caves.” The shockwave alone could do some damage, but the missile itself will blow a hole in the side of any mountain. Unfortunately, it is such a commodity, villains like The Ten Rings have been looking to unleash it on innocent civilians.
If you are wondering how close an Orc may be to your home, it would be wise to get your hands on Sting. Luckily for its holder, the sword glows blue when Orcs are near. But it isn’t the ability of the sword that puts it so high on this list. Instead, it is the mental strength it gives its owner, Frodo, while in his possession. Of course, throughout his journey, Frodo experiences many events that help his confidence grow. But the sword was a major boost for the once fearful Hobbit.
In addition to the physical and mental advantages to Sting, it holds legendary status in the real world and Middle Earth. Fans of the Lord of the Rings franchise have been awestruck by the glowing sword since its first moment on screen. In Middle Earth it is handed off like royalty, rather than a mere antique.
My personal favorite is also the super-villain Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg’s (Gary Oldman) favorite as well. The enhanced weapon is fitted with almost everything imaginable. While it doesn’t hold the legendary status of other weapons on this list, it deserves its place near the top. Imagine all the special features added to James Bond cars in one handheld device. That’s the essence of the Zorg ZF-1.
The ZF-1 holds a rocket launcher, poison arrow launcher, machine gun with replay capability, net launcher, flamethrower and freeze ray. Pretty handy for a light-weight gun wouldn’t you say?
The chainsaw is a basic weapon by itself. In the hands of legendary villains and sinister men it is something else entirely. For example, take three of its most iconic users: Ash Williams, Patrick Bateman and Leatherface. The chainsaw can bring humor to the most sadistic moments, while the simple whirring sound can instill fear in the toughest of heroes.
The chainsaw has severed possessed hands, impaled runaway prostitutes and sliced through innocent teenagers over its illustrious history. But the chainsaw is deserving of the #3 spot because of its epic status and basic structure.
“I am finished doing what I swore an oath to God 28 years ago to never do again. I’ve created something that kills people. And in that purpose, I was a success. I’ve done this because, philosophically, I am sympathetic to your aim. I can tell you with no ego, this is my finest sword. If on your journey, you should encounter God, God will be cut.”
Hattori Hanzo’s reputation for sword-making is one of the most legendary in film history. Of course, he was speaking figuratively when he claimed the sword would cut God, but honestly, I wouldn’t doubt it. Hanzo’s swords are priceless, unless you are in El Paso, where you can get one for $250.
The core of Kill Bill is a brilliant story, but it is pushed beyond brilliance by the iconic nature of the Hanzo sword. The samurai sword killed countless henchmen and took the lives of much of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. In a glorious death, The Bride sliced the top of O-Ren Ishii’s head clean off. The sword can cut through a human head as easily as it can a baseball. In addition, it makes a nice mirror.
The lightsaber has been the most beloved handheld weapon since it was first seen on screen in 1977′s Star Wars. Anybody who disagrees can head over to YouTube and find hundreds of homemade lightsaber fight scenes as proof. But those who possess a lightsaber in the Star Wars mythology are far more gifted than any YouTube sensation. Obi-Wan Kenobi explained it to the world in simple terms:
“This was the formal weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster. More skill than simple sight was required for its use. An elegant weapon. It was a symbol as well. Anyone can use a blaster or a fusion cutter—but to use a lightsaber well was a mark of someone a cut above the ordinary.”
Lightsabers are an intriguing weapon. Sometimes they penetrate like a regular knife, other times they slice a victim in two halves. Either way, if you get struck by a lightsaber, I hope you’ve got a spare limb hanging around. It’s favorite body part to destroy? Hands. And it comes in various colors in case you’ve got a favorite, like Forest Green.
“That’s no moon. That’s a space station.”
Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) controlled the Death Star, which is hands-down the most intimidating weapon in history. Also known as the “ultimate weapon,” the Death Star is a floating space station the size of a moon. It has the capability to destroy an entire planet in the span of a few seconds.
Of course, both Death Stars seen in the Star Wars films were destroyed, but it does not take away from the epic status of the weapon. Though one downfall (apart from that one pesky and obvious design flaw) would be the lack of maneuverability. The Death Star is relatively slow. Unlike handheld weapons like the lightsaber, it requires a massive tactical team to fire even a single shot.
Some would argue the lightsaber is more memorable than the Death Star, but a ligthsaber is no match for the Empire’s ultimate weapon. Nor are any of the others on the extensive list above. So, pick your favorite weapon and let the debate begin.
So that’s our list – sound off in the comments section below to tell us just how wrong we are and all the incredible weapons we’ve missed.
Actually we hope you’ll present some other famous weapons in movie history and share your thoughts on the endless array of weaponry and why one is better than another.