The silver screen is full of comic book blockbusters this year. From “X-Men: Days of Future Past” to “Guardians of the Galaxy” to “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” the industry is rife with fictional adaptations.
But what about the true stories of awesome people? Here are ten biographies we need to see right now.
1. Jack Johnson
Jack Johnson was a powerhouse boxer who faced a ton of challenges. Surprisingly, there’s never been a Hollywood production about his life (there have been several documentaries). Johnson fought in a stunning 100 fights with 73 wins — 40 by knockout.
Racism plagued Johnson during his fighting career, including being charged with a Mann Act violation for transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes (read: sleeping with white women). He was sentenced to a year and one day in prison. He skipped town before eventually returning seven years later and serving the sentence.
Actor for the role: Wood Harris
Wood Harris of “The Wire” is perfect for the role. The guy still looks young despite being over 40 and already played a role in a racially charged movie “Remember the Titans.” Anyone who’s seen him as Avon Barksdale knows he’s got the acting chops.
As the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, he claimed a significant portion of Asia and either destroyed or annexed anything in his path. Plus the guy loved to bed women. I mean LOVED to bed women. Around 0.5 percent of the men in the world are direct descendants of him, because Genghis didn’t screw around (or more appropriately, he did).
The dude was so badass, he demanded to be buried without a marker. His funeral escorts killed everyone along the path to ensure the secrecy of his burial place before being executed themselves to ensure his rest went undisturbed.
Actor for the Role: Ken Watanabe
Watanabe is not Mongolian, but that doesn’t mean he can’t control the big screen as the Khan. With his stoic face and powerful delivery, he is perfectly fit to play the Mongolian conquerer. His roles in “Inception,” “Batman Begins,” and “The Last Samurai” show he can take over the screen, even when sharing it with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale and Tom Cruise.
3. Bartholomew Roberts
You can have all the Jack Sparrow’s and Blackbeards you want, but none of them compare to the awesomeness that was Black Bart. A pirate with a mean streak and a temper, Bartholomew Roberts, as he was known before his pirating days, simply kicked ass all around the seas.
He started off as a legitimate – and brilliant – navigator before turning to piracy in 1719, and proceeded to rob, shoot, stab, steal and drink his way into the history books. He was the most successful pirate in terms of how many ships he captured, taking nearly 500 in his four years. There are way too many accounts of his awesomeness to write down here, but just know his death is often considered the end of the Golden Age of Piracy.
Also, that “Pirate Code” people are so keen on using in films — Black Bart literally wrote it.
Actor for the Role: Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson kicks serious ass. It’s a side job he does after he’s done kicking ass on screen. Him kicking ass as a pirate would only make things better.
4. Max Hardberger
Max Hardberger is one of the most badass people of our time. As cool as Black Bart was for being a pirate, Hardberger is just as cool for literally robbing from modern day pirates. He started as a sailor, but one night in 1990, the Patric M was seized by a shipper in Venezuela.
Most people would chalk this up as a loss. Not Hardberger. He “extracted” the ship from the port by sailing it out in the dead of night without clearance in violation of Venezuelan law, likely while giving everyone the finger on the way out.
Hardberger decided this was his calling and formed Vessel Extractions, LLC. He’s the go-to guy for extracting ships that have been seized in foreign countries.
Actor for the Role: Ed Harris
Ed Harris has made a career playing military men and authority figures. Why stop now?
5. Juliane Koepcke
Most people in plane crashes do one of two things: panic or perish. But this 17-year-old refused to do either. After LANSA Flight 508 exploded in mid-air over Peru, Juliane still strapped to her seat plummeted around 10,000 feet to the ground. Instead of turning into pain on the rainforest ground, Koepcke survived the free fall. But the trouble was just beginning for the high school senior.
She looked around for survivors, but didn’t find any because she was the only one. After finding some snacks from the airline, she made her way into the jungle to try and find civilization.
Now being alone in the rain forest with minimal food might seem like an issue that would leave even the manliest of men in a pool of their own tears. But Koepcke was all over it. Using advice from her father, she tracked her way to a river and followed it downstream looking for civilization.
Bear in mind this isn’t the creek up the road from you, but the AMAZON RIVER. She trekked for nine days without sleeping at night because of bug bites and a maggot infestation in her arms before finding a boat and hitching a ride home like a true champion.
Actor for the Role: Jennifer Lawrence
Young talented actress? Check. Plays difficult roles? Check. Showed she can convincingly act like she’s living off the land? Have you seen “The Hunger Games?” Lawrence is simply too perfect for this part.