The trailers for upcoming movie Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (revealed on this site recently) make it look like a whole lot of fun: but this version of Honest Abe is just the latest in a long line of kick ass fictional* US presidents. So who do you think is the best POTUS? Here are my nominations…
President Beck (Morgan Freeman), Deep Impact: you can’t really ask for a more reassuring figure to steer you through global catastrophe than Morgan ‘voice of God’ Freeman, who managed to greet the end of the world with admirable dignity in this otherwise overblown and flabby asteroid movie.
Strong points: ultimate statesmanship, gravitas and a voice that could calm a storm.
Weak points: allows plucky but insipid reporter Tea Leoni to uncover end of the world scoop. Really?
President James Dale (Jack Nicholson) Mars Attacks! Nicholson finally finds the one audience that his rakish charm fails to impress, completely misjudges the Martian motivation and ends up being murdered by Ack! Ack! ing aliens. That’s gonna cost you in the polls, Jack.
Strong points: Well, he is Jack Nicholson, so that probably counts for something.
Weak points: Pretty much useless all round.
President Thomas J Whitmore (Bill Pullman) Independence Day: taking a brief career detour into hero territory en route from dimwit to twisted Lynchian baddie, family man and all round nice guy Pres Pullman rises admirably to the occasion and comes over all Henry V as he rouses his troops against an alien invasion.
Strong points: while his speech (and indeed the film) may have all non-Yanks retching into their popcorn, he knows how to work a crowd. Plus, he has Will Smith onside, and that can never be a bad thing.
Weak points: remains utterly forgettable, even after he has helped save the world.
Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen), The West Wing: Sheen’s character was only ever supposed to make brief appearances in this behind-the-scenes show, but proved so popular instead he became one of the main characters. Remains to this day the president we all wished had really existed.
Strong points: smart, honourable, utterly believable, but not afraid to kick ass when necessary. Also has one of the best opening lines of any character, anywhere. (“I am the Lord your God, thou shall worship no other god before me!” Which is a fairly unbeatable introduction).
Weak points: sometimes too crippled by his own conscience. Made show depressing to watch during height of Bush years, as contrast between actual incumbent and fictional one was often too much to bear.
President David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) 24: Another strong black president who is heavy on the gravitas and utterly convincing as a premier, especially in the knuckle biting first series of this show. Haysbert was a president you could imagine actually voting for, even if he didn’t exactly surround himself by trustworthy advisors…
Strong points: Jack Bauer had his back. ‘Nuff said.
Weak points: terrible character judgement, especially when it came to a wife who could give Lady Macbeth a run for her money. Tendency to get caught up in life-/health-/country- threatening crises which all needed to be resolved within a 24 hour period.
James Marshall (Harrison Ford) Air Force One: bearing the optimistic tagline ‘Harrison Ford is President of the United States’ this airborne action movie has Ford do his best ‘put upon nice guy who WILL kick your ass if he’s pushed too far’, only this time with presidential clout behind it. Perfectly cast as the fantasy president we’d all like to see in a close up crisis.
Strong points: he’s Indiana freaking Jones, people. He’s all strong points!
Weak points: See above.
So, who would get your vote? In the event of an alien invasion I’d punt on Pullman, and in a terrorist attack I’d want Harrison Ford on my side (or at least on my aeroplane), but my deep abiding love for The West Wing means that in everyday life, it would have to be Bartlet for America all the way for me (although with the caveat that Freeman could be God, which might be the one thing that converts me from Atheism). What do you think – will vamp slaying Abraham Lincoln do better? And who did I miss?
*Before you say anything, I know Abraham Lincoln wasn’t fictional. But a vampire killing version obviously is…
See you in a fortnight for another Fangirl Unleashed column, and in the meantime do pop over to my blog, Body of a Geek Goddess, and say hi!