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Rebel Leaders of Sci-Fi
"O Captain My Captain, Who Leads Our Pathetic Rebellions?"
© Adrian Simmons
January 24, 2007

If SF and F have taught us anything, it's that any gung-ho moisture farmer or vertically-challenged sprite can come to learn they posses powerful talents, and through personal growth, good friends, proton torpedoes, and mysterious mentors triumph over nigh-impossible odds.

However, I've not come to praise the hero with a thousand faces, but to peer behind him to find the man behind the legend — the hard-workin' men and women who keep the horses shod, the X-wings juiced, and the larder stocked; those who shoulder the awesome responsibility of command and try to keep morale as high as possible given the circumstances. Join me as I take a look at, and give props to, the leaders of our rebellions.

Edgar Friendly (Denis Leary)
Led rebellion in Demolition Man

Mr. Friendly is the first of several rebel leaders to be played by famous non-actor celebrities (at the time of filming, Denis Leary was a stand-up comic and walk-on guest on MTV's Remote Control). Dennis plays the character pretty much as himself but in the future.

Motivation: To make the world of the future safe for leather-wearin' pricks.

Leadership skills: Cursing, smoking.

General Ackbar Calamari (Timothy Rose)
Led rebel attack fleet in Return of the Jedi

Ackbar's few lines have been memorized by geeks the world over. The living definition of the haggard-yet-focused-yet-nerdy-yet-competent leader, he stands up to Sith lords and their fully armed and operational battle stations without the benefit of any hokey religious mumbo-jumbo.

Little-known fact: Although Palpatine took great pleasure in knowing that he allowed the rebellion to gain crucial information about the location and defenses of the new Death Star, he would have been mortified to learn that Akbar's captain's chair was totally better than his own.

Leadership skills: Cold-blooded metabolism keeps him cool under pressure. Steely, unblinking gaze.

Implement used to stick it to the Man: Super Star Destroyer.

After Rebellion he: Spawned for 36 hours straight.

Mayor Tom Petty (Tom Petty)
Organized aspects of rebellion in The Postman

We are given no clue as to why the residents of Bridge City elected Mr. Petty, another celebrity turned man-of-the-people, as their leader. He was a late-comer into the rebellion game, and some argue that his contributions to stopping General Bethlehem were incidental at best. Those people can write their own damn essays.

Gumption: General Bethlehem forgot that Mr. Petty won't . . . back . . . down. He won't be turned around. In a world that keeps on pushin' him around, he won't . . . back . . . down.

Leadership style: Acoustic.

Networking Bonus: The other towns in the rebellion were run by the rest of the Traveling Wilburys.

George/Kuato (Marshall Bell)
Led rebellion of Martian mutants in Total Recall

Cunning opponents in the cat-and-mouse game of colonial rebellion, as well as unappetizing to behold, George/Kuato hold a special place in my heart as one of the last times I looked up a movie screen and realized that I honestly did not expect to see what I was seeing. Nor could I finish my popcorn.

Why he (they?) is (are?) the leader: Psychic powers.

Running gag: George: "S'okay?" Kauto: "S'alright."

Secret Weapon: You should see what they've got in the "downstairs" department.

Eomer of Rohan (Karl Urban)
Organized riders of Rohan against uruk-hai despite King Theoden's wishes in The Two Towers

He was leading rebellions when rebellions weren't cool. Eomer's stubborn defiance in the face of tradition and treaty saved the free peoples from a tremendous ass-handing by the forces of Isendgard and Mordor. Also, he got through that whole shitstorm without even so much as a scratch!

Philosophical viewpoint: Think mead, drink mead.

Quote: "Really, you don't want to make my sister mad."

Secret to his success: Leaving none alive.

Bertha (Carol Christine Hilaria Pounder)
Led rebellion of dispossessed in Robocop III

I want all of you to note how far down I had to go to find a female rebellion leader. Robocop III, for pity's sake!

Man stuck to: Rip Torn as CEO of the 'Company'.

Leadership style: Strong independent black woman.

Making the hurting stop: Her acting in the "heart transplant" scene is almost worth the rest of the movie.

Johnny Goodboy Tyler (Barry Pepper)
Led rebellious man-animals in lopsided battle against Psychlo invaders in Battlefield Earth

The truth is that when this movie came out I had a lot of trouble finding anyone to go see it. In fact, the only people free that evening were my pal Jack Daniels and his heterosexual life-partner Jimmy Beam. The entire affair was a blur of hair, jets, and boots. Boots that would make Gene Simmons blush!

Lesson learned: When I drink alone, I prefer to be by myself.

Airk Thaughbaer (Gavin O'Herlihy)
Led rebellious force of Dykene against evil sorceress in Willow

Yeah, yeah, General Bethlehem was a real bastard and Palpatine could shoot lighting out of his fingertips. Cry me a river, you pansies! Queen Bavmorda turned the population of a castle to stone and then turned an entire army into pigs. INTO PIGS! And who led that doomed army? Airk freaking Thaughbaer, that's who!

Secret fear: "That Eomer kid is totally bogarting my look, isn't he?"

After the Rebellion he: Swore off pork.

Voice and presumed leader of the runners in Logan's Run

As far as management of underground railroads goes, this guy's ability to squirrel "runners" to the "sanctuary" was so keen that the super-computer finally had to send Logan Five out to take care of business. And since Logan's life-crystal had to be prematurely aged to black, he was not only taking care of business, but he was working, quite literally, overtime.

How good of a leader was he: Dude, he doesn't even make an appearance in the movie. He's got the whole thing automated. A few recordings, some ankh-readers, a murderous doctor and his hottie henchwoman and he's hammered out a system that efficiently takes runners from the domed city to an encounter with a psychopathic robot so they can have the pleasure of dying of shock and exposure in a world they are totally ignorant of and unprepared for.

Leadership style: Distant.

Mick Fleetwood (Mick Fleetwood)
Led the revolution in The Running Man

If you've ever seen that wild-eyed look Mick Fleetwood gets when he's beating the skins, you can see how he'd stick it to the Man for banning his music.

Little-known fact: Stevie Nicks helped by making top hats full of plastique for the rebels.

Leadership style: First on the scene during a hit, last to leave.

Ace in the hole: Fortunately, the totalitarian government of Running Man hinges on the entertainment industry. They were practically begging Mick to take them down.

J-Bone (Ice-T)
Leader of disenfranchised, technologically-impaired misfits in Johnny Mnemonic

Man, remember Johnny Mnemonic? That takes me back. Takes me back low-Tek style.

Implements used in Man-sticking: Knives, guns, and at one point a Volvo.

Leadership style: Coool.

Point of fact: Hardcore rapper Ice-T co-starred with hardcore punk rocker Henry Rollins.

Friends in low places: You gotta admit, the dolphin was a nice touch. But you also have to admit that the dolphin itself was not particularly nice, what with the frying people with microwaves and all. Not many people know that the dolphin fronted the hardcore metal group Dölfyn at Seaworld before breaking into acting.

Adrian Simmons likes to sit in a greasy spoon and wonder: "Gee, should I have the T-bone steak or the jumbo rack of barbecued ribs with the side order of gravy fries?"

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