All through 2010 I'll be watching hundreds of man movies to work out who's the toughest character ever to kick-ass across cinema screens. So, without further chit-chat, let's get into the fray by taking on our first case: the jarhead who finds himself feeling a little blue on Pandora about 144 years from now...


Name: Jake Sully

Rank: Corporal

Affiliation: US Marine, member of "Jarhead Clan"; newly minted honorary member of Na'vi.

Mission: As part of the Avatar program, to learn the Na'vi's strengths and weaknesses to facilitate the corporate destruction of their Hometree in the pursuit of precious metal Unobtainium.

Physical strengths: In his human form, Sully is at a disadvantage, having been paralyzed from the waist down and unable to afford having his spine repaired. In his Na'vi incarnation, Sully's disadvantage is that whenever he goes to sleep his Avatar body becomes for all intents and purposes dead -- which is a big problem when you're napping in the path of an oncoming bulldozer. On the upside, in human form Sully appears to have terrific upper-body strength and, rejoicing in his ability to walk again in Avatar form, he quickly learns and strengthens his new body, toughening up his feet, learning to move through the trees and skies.

Mental strengths: Sully's greatest asset is his personal motto that he believes he can pass any test a man can be set. This finds vocal expression in his quiet but firm statement "I've got this" when he's faced with a challenge. Sully takes active delight in adversity, responding with a laugh and a grin when first surrounded by hostile Na'vi, or given the task of climbing a perilously high array of floating rocks to spirit-meld with a ferocious flying dragon. Sully is also terrifically resourceful, as demonstrated by how quickly he fashions a spear and torch to help him survive the Pandoran night. However, Sully's self-belief sometimes extends to over-cockiness, as when Neytiri has to save him from falling to his death soon after they meet. His strategic thinking leaves a lot to be desired, too. While his "death from above" final battle strategy, accompanied by beseeching of Eywa to look into Grace Augustine's memories and to side with the Na'vi, are master strokes, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the mess is also to a degree of Sully's making. Having seen similar wars back home on Earth -- which we get by him hinting he's seen or even participated in the killing of women and children -- Sully should have realized sooner exactly where his infiltration would lead and explained himself to the Na'vi. He ought also to have realized that his video logs would be viewed by the gung-ho Quaritch and result in a full-scale attack.

Warrior strengths: Sully is game for anything, which is why he succeeds riding the Toruk to become leader of the Na'vi. He is proficient with human machine-guns and proves a quick study with Na'vi bows and arrows and blades. However, Sully is far from invincible and has his life saved on three occasions by Neytiri.

Vehicular abilities: He's not a horse guy but he's born to fly the Ikran.

Overall assessment: Sully's definitely a tough guy you'd want on your side. He may be slow to see the big picture, but he's instinctively brave and comes with an old-fashioned sense of loyalty, honor and morality. But in his human form and as a part-time Na'vi, Sully's vulnerabilities are significant. We imagine future adventures in his permanent alien body will see him get even tougher but for now we reckon Neytiri might still be able to kick his butt.

Tough guy rating: 7/10

Michael Adams is the author Showgirls, Teen Wolves And Astro Zombies, which traces his year-long quest to watch the worst movie ever made. To read the first chapter for free, click here

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