Perhaps the true badass of our current era, Dwayne Johnson rose from the ashes of his football career to conquer the ring in the WWE and then the global box office. The man once known simply as The Rock has stolen all of our hearts over the years as well as a few movie franchises too.
With all of that badass contained to just one career, it can be hard to keep an accurate record. But we’ve got you covered. From a giant-animal wrangler to a man who hunts Vin Diesel for a living, here’s our countdown of Dwayne Johnson’s ten most badass characters to date.
10 Davis Okoye (Rampage)
Once a Special Forces soldier who became an anti-poaching ranger and then a gorilla handler at the San Diego Wildlife Sanctuary, Davis Okoye is one fearless guy. Most people who stare down full-grown gorillas all day would probably break a sweat but Davis is essentially indestructible.
After surviving a deadly plane crash, that he starts out handcuffed in, Davis escapes from military custody, steals a chopper, gets shot in the stomach at point blank range, survives a skyscraper falling on top of him and then shoots some grenades and rockets at a giant alligator and a giant wolf. Needless to say, he’s smiling and strolling along casually after they’re both dead like nothing happened.
9 Raymond Gaines (San Andreas)
Raymond Gaines is a helicopter rescue pilot for the Los Angeles Fire Department and the only man in California more physically powerful than a 9.6 magnitude earthquake. Like every disaster movie badass rolled into one, Ray Gaines lands helicopters without gear boxes, rides boats directly into tsunamis and parachutes into the middle of earthquake zones rather than running away from them.
On an unstoppable mission to save his family from impossible odds, Raymond Gaines reminds us all that the best thing you can do in a crisis situation is to be related to a Dwayne Johnson action movie character.
8 Hercules (Hercules)
Dwayne Johnson gives the Greek myth the WWE treatment with his take on the legendary demigod. Johnson plays a slightly more realistic version of Hercules, in that he’s more of a conman who sows his own outlandish reputation for more cash. But don’t let that make you think he isn’t a badass. Even when he’s technically cheating, he still kills a guy with one punch.
Kind of like the closest movie audiences have got to seeing God of War’s Kratos on the big screen, Johnson’s Hercules suffers from a tragic past and the memories of his murdered family. Through some old school swords-and-sandals badassery, he proves that he’s “the truth behind the legend” and has his vengeance.
7 Roadblock (G.I. Joe: Retaliation)
One of the last surviving members of the elite G.I. Joe unit, it’s up to Roadblock to lead the only two other surviving Joes on a mission to stop the nefarious Cobra – who have infiltrated the US government to the point of replacing the President with an impersonator.
While Roadblock may not be the most memorable of Dwayne Johnson’s characters that are badass enough to use machine gun turrets like they’re regular guns, he’s still squarely in the list of characters who are too cool to even look back when they blow up the bad guy. There’s little more you can do than that to earn a spot on the all-time badass list.
6 Chris Vaughn (Walking Tall)
Loosely based on the true story of Sheriff Bufford Pusser, Chris Vaughn is a former soldier who returns to his small lumber mill town in Washington state only to find it in the grip of drugs and wannabe gangsters from the local casino.
After being brutally tortured at the hands of the thugs at the casino, and seeing his nephew nearly overdose on crystal meth, Vaughn picks up his weapon of choice (a solid block of cedar wood) and shows them who they’re messing with. After trashing the casino and getting acquitted by the jury, Chris runs for sheriff and cleans things up the only way Dwayne Johnson knows how.
5 Sean Porter (Gridiron Gang)
Another of Dwayne Johnson’s takes on a real-life hero, Sean Porter works with youths incarcerated at the Kilpatrick Detention Center in Los Angeles. After the gangland slaying of a young man he tried to mentor, Sean becomes determined to make a dent in the 75% reincarceration rate that his kids face.
Deciding to coach a football team at the detention center, Sean teaches the inmates about working together despite their backgrounds. On a road that teaches him a lot about life too, he shows the kids how to respect themselves and, maybe most importantly of all, how to forgive the hurt they’ve suffered.
4 Christopher Danson (The Other Guys)
One of the Original Guys that the title of The Other Guys references, Christopher Danson is the perfect badass cop. That is, until he and his partner, Detective P.K. Highsmith (played by Samuel L. Jackson), inexplicably decide to jump off of a roof to catch up to some ziplining bad guys and plummet to their deaths.
Even in the obvious comedy of both of their deaths, there is still something decidedly badass about being so sure of your own heroism that you jump off of a building with no actual hope of survival. “Aim for the bushes” are some immortal last words.
3 Gunnery Sergeant Asher “Sarge” Mahonin (Doom)
The leader of a heavily armed group of marines known as the Rapid Response Tactical Squad, Sarge is Dwayne Johnson in full on candyass-kicking mode. His squad are big men with even bigger guns and Sarge gets the honor of wielding the biggest of the movie – the video game series’ famous BFG.
The movie cops out a little by having the BFG be officially called the Bio Force Gun (if we tell you that the first word was originally Big then you can probably guess what the F stood for) but it’s still a lot of fun to watch in action. Especially in the hands of The Rock himself.
2 Luke Hobbs (Fast & Furious Franchise)
How do you steal an entire action movie franchise away from several other stars, even when it’s already four movies in? Simple. Be Dwayne Johnson. Don’t just look like Dwayne Johnson, be Dwayne Johnson.
Luke Hobbs is a Diplomatic Security Service agent, which basically translates as The Rock with an official license to badass. He takes charge, takes no disrespect from anybody and never forgets his baby oil when he’s traveling the globe in the pursuit of various super criminals. Hobbs quits the DSS at the end of the eighth installment so he’s got nowhere to go but even further into badass territory.
1 Beck (The Rundown A.K.A. Welcome to the Jungle)
Probably the most underrated character from Johnson’s whole career, from what is also probably the most underrated movie of his career. Beck is muscle under the thumb of a vaguely gangster-ish type. As his name highlights, there’s not a whole lot about Beck that’s clearly defined. All you really know about him is that he’s in deep with the wrong people, an aspiring restaurateur and a total badass.
Before reluctantly taking down a pro football team’s entire offensive line (he doesn’t want to ruin their next season by hurting them too badly), Beck crosses paths with a cameoing Arnold Schwarzenegger who tells to “Have fun.” Though the movie never even made back its own budget at the box office, critics and audiences loved it and the Schwarzenegger cameo sealed it as the official moment when the action movie tough guy crown was officially passed to Johnson. We hope we see that sequel some day.