Entertainment

06.15.14

The 13 Coolest Movie Dads: ‘Taken,’ ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Die Hard,’ and More

From Bryan Mills’s vengeful father in Taken to Mufasa in The Lion King, the coolest movie dads of all time.

Think your dad’s cool? See how he stacks up against The Daily Beast’s list of the coolest movie fathers. Keep in mind, this list ranks the coolest movie dads, not the greatest, so you won't find Atticus Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird), George Bailey (It’s A Wonderful Life), or Captain Von Trapp (The Sound of Music) here. But we love them, too.

1. Bryan Mills, TAKEN

Video screenshot

Liam Neeson has played some very cool dads before, including in Love Actually, but in the 2008 action-thriller Taken, his father figure is arguably the coolest ever. Neeson plays Bryan Mills, a former CIA operative who quit his job with the agency to be closer to his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace). When Kim is kidnapped during a trip to Paris, Mills immediately flies over on a redeye and goes on a neck-snapping, electrocuting revenge rampage in search of his lost child. In addition to his hand-to-hand combat skills and expert gunplay, Mills also has the world’s biggest pop star on speed dial, ever since he saved her life during a bizarre backstage assassination attempt. 

2. Darth Vader, STAR WARS Films

Video screenshot

In George Lucas’s Star Wars films, Darth Vader (David Prowse) is the father of Luke (Mark Hamill) and Leia (Carrie Fisher). He’s the Dark Lord of the Sith, a villainous group whose members have mastered the dark side of the Force. Vader is the central figure in the Galactic Empire. He sports all black, including a cape and helmet, and has an imposing baritone voice, courtesy of James Earl Jones. Sure, there’s a crusty old white man inside the costume, but he’s still the baddest motherf--ker in the galaxy. He also eventually comes around, killing the Emperor and saving his son, Luke.

3. John McClane, DIE HARD

Video screenshot

John McClane (Bruce Willis) is an NYPD cop who arrives in Los Angeles to patch things up with his estranged wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), with whom he has two kids. He’s a former chain smoker and alcoholic with a helluva sense of humor. When a terrorist group led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) hijacks the Nakatomi Plaza building during Holly’s office party, McClane is forced to go toe-to-toe with 13 bad guys, sporting just a tank shirt, slacks, no shoes, and a pistol. He does it, with a wink and a smile. At one point, he dresses up a dead baddie in a Santa hat, sits him in a chair, and sends him down the elevator to Gruber with a message: “NOW I HAVE A MACHINE GUN. HO-HO-HO.”

4. Furious Styles, BOYZ N THE HOOD

Video screenshot

In John Singleton’s 1991 film, after getting in a fight at school, Tre Styles’s (Cuba Gooding Jr.) mother sends him to live with his father, Furious Styles (Laurence Fishburne), in South Central Los Angeles. The night Tre arrives, Furious—a Vietnam vet—shoots at a burglar. Later on, he dispenses valuable advice to his son. “Any fool with a dick can make a baby, but only a real man can raise his children,” he says. With Furious’s guidance and tough love, Tre grows into a college-bound young man who holds down a job at the local mall. When Tre gets caught in the middle of a gang war between the Crips and Bloods, Furious talks him out of getting involved.

5. Harry Tasker, TRUE LIES

Video screenshot

During the day, Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) performs covert missions for the Omega Sector, an anti-terrorism task force headed by Spencer Trilby (Charlton Heston). At night, he plays the role of a salesman and loving father to Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) and their teenage daughter, Dana (Eliza Dushku). Harry can kick all matter of ass and dance a mean tango. When his daughter is kidnapped, Harry hijacks a fighter jet to rescue her and prevent a group of terrorists from detonating a nuclear warhead in downtown Miami.

6. Mufasa, THE LION KING

Video screenshot

The second cool father on the list voiced by James Earl Jones is Mufasa, the lion king that rules over the animal kingdom in the Pride Lands of Africa. His mate soon gives birth to a son, Simba, and Mufasa teaches his heir apparent how to become a noble leader. “Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance,” he says to Simba. “As king, you need to understand that balance, and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.” Mufasa sacrifices his life to save young Simba. But even in death, his ghost guides his son, keeping him on the straight and narrow.

7. Brendan Conlon, WARRIOR

Video screenshot

By day, Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton) is a physics teacher at a local high school. He’s also a family man, raising two children with his wife—including a young daughter with a heart problem. Because of the financial strain from their child’s health issues, they’re about to lose their home. So at night, Conlon, a former UFC fighter, kicks ass in local mixed-martial-arts fights for extra cash. When the school catches wind and he’s suspended, he increases his fights, risking bodily injury to help shelter and feed his family. He eventually enters Sparta, an MMA tournament with a winner-take-all prize of $5 million, with the hope of putting his family’s financial woes behind him once and for all.

8. Don Vito Corleone, THE GODFATHER

Video screenshot

Robert De Niro plays the younger Don Corleone (in The Godfather: Part II) and Marlon Brando plays the older version. Can you get any cooler than that? Don Corleone is “don,” or head of the Corleone crime family. He is fair but firm, has connections in the government and Hollywood, and can get just about anything done—including securing people coveted movie roles. He’s the father of four children, including Michael (Al Pacino) and will do anything for them. When Michael assassinates a corrupt cop and rival Virgil Sollozzo in a restaurant, he’s sent to Italy to hide and, against Don Corleone’s wishes, enters the family business.

9. John Matrix, COMMANDO

Video screenshot

John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a retired Delta Force Operative who lives in a secluded mountain home with his young daughter, Jenny (Alyssa Milano). The two spend their days palling around, feeding deer, and getting ice cream. When Jenny is kidnapped by a gang of mercenaries, Matrix goes on the offensive, killing each and every one of them—including mowing down an entire private militia, and assassinating a South American dictator—until he’s reunited with his little girl.

10. Leon, THE PROFESSIONAL

Video screenshot

OK, so Leon (Jean Reno), a French hit man living in New York City, isn’t Matilda’s (Natalie Portman) biological father. But after her entire family is killed by a corrupt cop (Gary Oldman) and his gang of thugs, he takes her in, saving her life, and teaches her how to become “a cleaner” (an assassin). He's like the father she never had, since her former one was a scumbag who treated her like dirt. Later on, he’ll rescue her from the clutches of the aforementioned pill-popping cop at a police station, and eventually sacrifice his life for hers.

11. Dill, EASY A

Video screenshot

In the romantic comedy Easy A, Olive (Emma Stone) is a cerebral high schooler who decides to start accepting money from nerds at the school in exchange for saying they’ve slept with her—thereby upping their social standing. Despite rumors spreading that his daughter is a harlot, Dill (Stanley Tucci) has complete and utter faith in her, no matter what. He’s also witty and hilariously sarcastic. “I’d take a bullet for you, you know that,” he says. “Right between the eyes. I would slit my throat rather than say something to someone that you didn’t want me to say!”

12. Big Chris, LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS

Video screenshot

In Guy Ritchie’s slick crime comedy Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Big Chris (Vinnie Jones) is a hard-ass debt collector for local crime boss “Hatchet” Harry. Everywhere he goes, he’s accompanied by his son, Little Chris, who dresses just like him—long leather coat, slacks—and helps him collect money. There’s nothing Big Chris cares about more than his young boy, and he’ll do anything to protect him. When a thug named Diamond Dog threatens to kill his son, Big Chris crashes his car into Dog’s at top speed, then bludgeons him to death with the car door, because nobody messes with Little Chris.

13. Big Daddy, KICK-ASS

Video screenshot

Damon Macready (Nicolas Cage)—or “Big Daddy”—is a former NYPD detective turned vigilante hero. He dresses up in a Batman-like suit and fights crime alongside his 11-year-old ass-kicking daughter, Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), whom he’s been training since she was a child to be a crime-fighting hero. In one scene, he teaches her not to be afraid of guns by putting a bulletproof vest on her and shooting her several times in the chest. In exchange, Hit Girl gets some ice cream.

Honorable Mentions:

Professor Henry Jones, INDIANA JONES Films

Pete, KNOCKED UP

Jor-El, SUPERMAN

Beanie Campbell, OLD SCHOOL

Brody, JAWS