The reason that many movie characters are so intriguing is that they’re often experts in a particular field. Whether that means they’re a world-class musician or a tech genius, their skills are often out-of-this-world, making the viewer fascinated and maybe even a little bit jealous at the same time.
After all, who wouldn’t want to be as brilliant as someone like Tony Stark, or Hermione Granger, or James Bond? Yet the reason so many are content with enjoying these lifestyles through the power of film is because they require decades of training and perseverance. But just because all of these characters are impressive, doesn’t mean they all came by their skills the same way.
For instance, someone like Tony Stark may be the life of the party — but there's no way he acquired the knowledge he has without picking up a book. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, someone like James Bond surely underwent his fair share of book-learning as well, but he wouldn't have become the skilled marksman and fighter that he is without continuously getting his hands dirty.
So let's take a look at 50 iconic movie characters, rate them, and reveal which side of the book smart/ street smart spectrum we each fall on.
One of the biggest action heroes of all-time, John McClane first appeared in the 1988 action movie that started it all, where he was portrayed by Bruce Willis. The character has since appeared in four more films in the series, but most would agree that none of them can hold a candle to the original.
Though she has been a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since nearly the beginning, Black Widow has yet to get her own solo movie. This seems even more bizarre when considering that Scarlett Johansson is one of the most-profitable female actors of all time. But it looks like a Black Widow movie is finally in the works after all.
Though Fight Club turned out to be a box office bomb at the time of its release, the film has since gone on to be considered one of the greatest movies of the 1990s. Brad Pitt’s iconic turn as the imaginary character Tyler Durden has certainly played a role in that, wouldn’t you agree?
For the majority of the Kill Bill series, this character goes without a name, and she is simply referred to as the Bride. The character was played by Uma Thurman in two films, where she awakes from a coma years after being betrayed by her old team of assassins, only to go on a revenge mission to hunt them down.
One of the coolest movies characters of all time, the Dude doesn’t have any desire to go on an adventure or achieve a goal, all he ever wanted was to get his rug back. The character is the lead of The Big Lebowski — one of the biggest cult movies of all time.
We’ve seen many incarnations of the Joker across the big and small screen, but none were as mesmerizing as Heath Ledger’s turn as the Clown Prince of Crime in the 2008 film The Dark Knight. Ledger even managed to win a posthumous Academy Award for his performance. But is it weird to say you "love" a villain?
The Queen of Arendelle, Elsa is one of the two main characters in Frozen, who accidentally throws her kingdom into an endless winter at the beginning of the movie. The character is set to return in the upcoming Frozen 2, which will be out late next year. So will you be buying a ticket?
One of the most iconic movie characters of all time, it’s impossible to imagine anyone but Harrison Ford in the role of Indiana Jones. But, because George Lucas was already using him for Star Wars, he was originally against Steven Spielberg casting him for this franchise as well. Luckily, Lucas didn't get his way.
When it comes to book smarts, there are few film characters who can outmatch the Hogwarts witch Hermione Granger. The character was portrayed by Emma Watson throughout the series, who may have been a supporting character next to Harry Potter — but she was still very much a hero in her own right.
Few people can pull off dry sarcasm as well as Bill Murray. And in that regard, Peter Venkman may be his driest and most sarcastic character of all time. Venckman is a doctor with degrees in both psychology and parapsychology, who goes on to found the Ghostbusters with his friends when he finds himself out of a job.
James Bond has been played by many actors over a number of decades. But Daniel Craig still currently holds the title, and he is most likely going to reprise the role in the forthcoming 25th Bond film. Though when that film will actually go into production is still anyone’s guess.
The part of Ellen Ripley from the Alien film series was originally written for a man. Though Sigourney Weaver was ultimately cast in the role, which made the character one of the most iconic sci-fi and actions stars of all time. While this character has brawn, it’s ultimately her brains that makes her a standout.
In the original Star Wars films, Han Solo is the character who seems to be scoffing at the ridiculous of it all — which only helped audiences buy into the out-of-this-world story of the sci-fi franchise. But the character ends up meeting his demise in the latest trilogy — likely to appease Harrison Ford.
Portrayed by Jaime Foxx, Django is the protagonist of the 2012 Quentin Tarantino movie, Django Unchained. He begins the movie as a slave living in the American South, only to be transformed into a bounty hunter by the film’s end, finally giving Django the chance to rescue his wife from the despicable Calvin Candy.
Though he may be the one who bears the One Ring across Middle-earth, many have pointed out that Frodo isn’t quite as heroic as a number of other Lord of the Rings characters — including Aragorn and Samwise Gamgee. But that doesn’t mean that the hobbit can’t be one of your favorites.
The protagonist of the Millennium series, Lisbeth Salander is a computer hacker and a private investigator who first appeared in the novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. She has since been portrayed by Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara, with Clair Foy also set to debut as the character later this year.
Before The Bourne Identity, Matt Damon was largely known as a dramatic actor. But the 2002 film quickly turned him into action star material, and he would end up reprising the role in three sequels, all of which made a boatload of money at the box office. But how do you feel about Jason Bourne?
Although she had already received critical acclaim for her performance in Winter’s Bone, it was with her role in the Hunger Games series that turned Jennifer Lawrence into a worldwide superstar. Here, Lawrence played Katniss Everdeen, a tough-as-nails character who volunteers to participate in the annual Hunger Games in place of her sister.
Though Kurt Russel is still extremely well known today, fewer and fewer people seem to remember Snake Plissken — the action antihero he originally portrayed in the 1981 film Escape from New York. Here, Plissken is sent into Manhattan Island — which has been turned into a free-range prison — where he is tasked with saving the Commander and Chief.
Though the movie may take its name from the character of Max, Imperator Furiosa is undeniably the hero of Mad Max: Fury Road. After all, she’s the one who sets the plot in motion by actually trying to break free of her repressive society, taking the wives of Immortan Joe with her.
Even if you’re not a huge fan of Ben Affleck in the role of Bruce Wayne/ Batman, there certainly doesn’t mean you still can’t love the character. After all, there are still a ton of comics, movies, TV shows, and video games to get your Batman fix from. So is the Dark Knight one of your favorites?
Though she may come off as a bit dim-witted on the surface, Elle Wood still manages to make it into Harvard and eventually become a lawyer — which definitely lands her on the book smart side of the equations. But she’s also no novice when it comes to socializing with others.
Anton Chigurh is the primary antagonist of the novel and film No Country for Old Men. He is arguably one of the best and most perplexing villains that have ever been put to film, and even after seeing the movie multiple times, one can’t help but wonder what this character’s motives ultimately are.
Captain Jack Sparrow
After a slew of Pirates of the Caribbean films, it’s easy to forget just how revolutionary Johnny Depp’s performance of Captain Jack Sparrow was in the original film. In fact, Depp even ended up getting an Academy Award nomination for the performance — pretty impressive for a character in a popcorn movie.
One of the more intriguing X-Men characters, Mystique first appeared in the original 2000 film, where she was largely painted as a one-dimensional antagonist who served under Magneto. But since the 2011 installment, X-Men: First Class, the character has been portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, who gave us a much more dynamic Mystique.
Portrayed by Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa first appeared in the 1976 Best Picture-winner Rocky. He’s since appeared in five sequels as well as the Creed spin-off film where he helps train the son of his old adversary. So is this street-wise underdog your favorite kind of character? Or could you go without him?
Again, it might be a bit much to say you “love” a character like Norman Bates. But the antagonist of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is no doubt fascinating. While Norman’s mother is first suspected of being the story’s evil-doer, it’s later revealed that Norman’s mother has passed away years before, yet he continues to believe she’s still alive.
The protagonist of the new Star Wars trilogy, many believed that Rey was going to be revealed to be Luke’s daughter. But in an unexpected turn of events, Rey learns that her parents were actually no one special. In fact, they abandoned her when she was only a kid in exchange for a small sum of money.
One of the main characters of The Shining, Jack Torrence ends up taking on the job as the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel while the building is shut down for the winter. He brings with him his wife and his young son, who are far from safe when Jack begins to go stir crazy.
One of the most beloved superheroes of all time, Spider-Man stands out from many Marvel and DC character because he’s often portrayed as nothing more than a teenager from a working-class family. On top of trying to save his city from evil-doers, Peter Parker is one of those everyday characters who is simply trying to make it through the day.
Though it was made on a relatively small budget of around $7 million, the 2007 film Juno really managed to capture the public's attention, going on to gross nearly a quarter billion dollars at the box office. This was largely thanks to the film’s witty protagonist, played by Ellen Page.
The hero of The Matrix trilogy, Neo begins the story as an everyday computer programmer. Though by night, he actually works as the hacker named Neo, who suspects that all is not as it seems in his reality. This leads him to discover that humanity has actually been hijacked by a race of machines.
The Lord of the Rings may be considered one of the greatest fantasy stories ever told, but the novels were severely lacking any type of diversity. Therefore, the character of Arwen was expanded for the movies, where she is made much more heroic rather than just the love interest of Aragorn.
The main character of the 1999 film Gladiator, Russel Crowe ended up taking home the Academy Award for Best Actor of the Year for his performance as Maximus, an army commander who’s stripped of his rank and turned into a gladiator. Director Ridley Scott has even toyed with bringing the character back for a sequel.
One of the main characters of the Toy Story franchise, Woody is voiced by the critically acclaimed Tom Hanks — which gives the character an everyman sort of feel, even if he happens to be a toy. The character is set to appear in the upcoming Toy Story 4, which will be out next year.
Clarice Starling is the protagonist of the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs. She is a trainee in the FBI who is tasked with seeking advice from the imprisoned Hannibal Lector to aid in her search for a criminal. She was portrayed by Jodie Foster who ended up winning Best Actress for her performance.
After playing the character of Wolverine for nearly two decades, it’s hard to imagine anyone else stepping up to fill in the shoes of Hugh Jackman to play this beloved X-Men. Jackman only recently completed his tenure as the character in the 2017 film Logan, which ended with Wolverine's heartbreaking demise.
Despite being the main character of the movie, this Ryan Gosling character is never given a name. Instead, the stunt car driver who moonlights as a getaway driver is simply (and unsurprisingly) known as The Driver. The film received critical acclaim, as did Gosling’s understated performance. So how do you like the character?
The antagonist of Mean Girls, Regina George is the leader of the Plastic — the most popular clique of girls in the school, who invite newcomer Cady Heron to join their posse. She was played by Rachel McAdams, who also broke out in The Notebook that same year. So did you enjoy the character despite her obnoxious nature?
This beloved ogre first popped up in the 2001 animated movie, which was based on the 1990 children’s book of the same name. The character was voiced by the versatile Mike Myers, who would go on to reprise the role in three sequels. So were you a fan of the character?
This action franchise has seen its fair share of villains, but none have been quite as clever or compelling as Hans Gruber, the villain from the 1988 original. The character was portrayed by Alan Rickman, who would go on to play another iconic villain in the Harry Potter series with Severus Snape.
The antagonist of The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda Priestly is the editor-in-chief at Runway, a prestigious fashion magazine with its headquarters in New York City. The character repeatedly criticizes the story protagonist Andy Sachs for her lack of fashion sense, causing Andy to dramatically change her ways to try and fit in.
Even if someone is not a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings series, it would be hard to believe that they still couldn’t enjoy Sir Ian McKellan’s now iconic performance as the friendly wizard Gandalf. The British actor has since gone on to reprise the role in The Hobbit trilogy as well.
An equal blend of book smarts and street smarts, Tony Stark is undeniably one of the smartest characters in the MCU — and maybe one of the smartest character in all of film. But you wouldn’t know it just from talking to him, as Stark clearly knows how to have a good time as well.
Despite the title of “Princess” in her name, Leia Organa evolved to be far more than a damsel in distress throughout her time in the Star Wars franchise. The character was portrayed by Carrie Fischer, who sadly passed away before she could star in the final film of the latest trilogy.
At the start of The Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne is very much a street-smart individual. So when he is falsely assured of a crime he didn’t commit, he finds himself way out of his element when he ends up in a maximum security prison. But over time, Andy does learn to adapt.
Yet another extremely book smart character, Spock can’t help but come off more than a little unemotional as a result of his Vulcan heritage. But this is precisely what makes him such a good first officer to Captain James T. Kirk, who often acts on emotion without examining all possible outcomes of a scenario.
One of the main characters of the 1994 film Pulp Fiction, Jules Winnfield is a professional criminal who works for the mob boss Marsellus Wallace. He seems to have no shortage of street experience, which is bound to only expand when he carries out his plan to “walk the earth” after the movie ends.
After appearing in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice the year before, Wonder Woman appeared in her own solo movie in 2017, which received both commercial and critical acclaim. Gal Gadot is set to reprise the role in the forthcoming sequel, Wonder Woman 1984, which will be out late next year.
Portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal, Donnie Darko is a troubled teen who escapes what would have been an otherwise fatal accident, only to come to learn that the world will be coming to an end in 28 days time. But of course, nothing is as it seems in this 2001 sci-fi mystery/ drama film.