Since the advent of the moving image, movies have become the dominant form of storytelling in the Western world. As storytelling technologies have evolved, the basic concept of the hero’s journey, and the aspects that make a hero popular, have largely remained the same.
Hollywood has managed to tell and retell the classic hero’s journey in fresh and newly exciting ways, creating action heroes whose bravery, emotional complexity, and sense of inner pain could captivate audiences for millennia to come.
To determine the most popular action heroes of all time, 24/7 Wall St. analyzed the popularity of more than 23,000 characters from roughly 1,600 action films with data from the Internet Movie Database. Characters were ranked based on the number of reviews for each action film they have appeared in. Only action heroes portrayed in films were considered.
Correction: Due to an editing error, the most recent film appearance of action heroes in slides #22 and #12, as well as the release year of the most recent film appearance of the action hero in slide #26, was incorrect. We also failed to include Colin Farrell as among the actors who have portrayed Douglas Quaid, the #50 action hero on our list. We have corrected these mistakes.