The next time your favorite action show or game gets interrupted by a special message from the president, don't curse the screen and flip to Spike TV for the duration. After all, some of our historical presidents have lived lives of such excitement that they'd seem like obvious fictionalizations even on hard-to-swallow series like 24.
But from a revolutionary who bore scars while imprisoned by an enemy sword to a man of peace who had no problem using his bare hands to toss out troublemakers who interrupted windy political speeches, these commanders-in-chief could command box-office windfalls if only Hollywood were smart enough to turn their lives into action flicks.
Calling Jean Claude van Damme...
6. Benjamin Harrison
The ninth president of the United States was such a well-known badass that when he ran for the White House at the then-venerable age of 67, he basically coasted on the reputation he earned from his wartime exploits: "Tippecanoe, and Tyler too!" (Tyler being his running-mate)
Tippecanoe was the site of his most famous battle, where he led U.S. soldiers against a confederation of Indians led by the mighty Shawnee chief Tecumseh, fighting off a nighttime surprise assault even though they barely had enough bullets to make it through.
Harrison, by the way, learned how to wage war as a young man during Northwest Indian Campaign at the side of the renowned American general "Mad" Anthony Wayne -- the bold commander who was the inspiration for Batman, making Harrison the closest thing to a Robin executive branch the White House has ever seen.
Unfortunately, Harrison turned out to be a lot less hearty than he had been fighting Native Americans, and he died after only 32 days in office because he caught cold during his inauguration.
5. Andrew Jackson
Act 1: A pair of stripling boys in what will be Tennessee run away from home to join the revolution against the oppressive British and act as couriers for the colonials. They're caught, and held in a prison camp under horrific conditions. The older boy starves to death. The younger boy, all of 13, refuses to polish the boots of a pompous British officer. The Brit pulls out his saber and slashes the boy across the face and hands, giving him scars he'll have forever. The boy stands his ground. He has a fire in his eyes.
His name is Andrew Jackson.
Act 2: A grown man now, Jackson is a successful planter in his native Tennessee when a messenger races to his door and breathlessly mouths a single word: "War." Jackson opens an old chest hidden in the attic and pulls out a dusty sword. He fingers the scar on his hand. The year is 1812, and he will once again face the hated British.
Act 3: The city of New Orleans is under siege by an overwhelming army of Redcoats, and all looks lost. If the Americans lose the critical port, then .... But a hush falls over the wailing women and ashen-faced soldiers. A tall, wild-haired shadow strides out of the darkness and into the orange light of the dancing campfire. "I'm taking charge here," he says. "My name is Andrew Jackson."
Sequel: Old Hickory: The Seminole Wars
4. George H.W. Bush
Don't be fooled by the wishy-washy WASP lampooned by Dana Carvey -- Bush the First was a bona fide World War II hero who joined because of Pearl Harbor, became the youngest naval aviator to date at age 19, fought in the massive Battle of the Philippine Sea, and earned the awesome callsign "Skin."
But his action movie would be centered around his mission to Japanese installations in the Bonin Islands. Bush flew his Avenger, sustained damage that set the torpedo bomber ablaze, and then kept on with the mission.
He hit the installation, then bailed out into the ocean, the only man of his crew to survive, waiting for hours in an inflatable raft as American fighters circled overhead to keep him from harm. Then, after he was rescued, he joined the teams that rescued other pilots. In all, he flew 58 combats missions.
3. Abraham Lincoln
Bet you never thought you'd see Honest Abe's name on this list. And here's another mindfuck: Lincoln's action movie would be an honest-to-God wrestling flick.
That's right: Lincoln was the 19th-century answer to the WWE.
Our tallest president, Lincoln wasn't some reed-like nerd, but a brawny frontiersman who was a renowned wrestler as a young 'un. He even used his skills from the mat when he campaigned for office for the first time: When an opponent's man began hassling one of his own supporters as he gave a speech, Lincoln rolled up his sleeves, waded into the crowd, and then singlehandedly picked up the man by his pantwaist and collar and tossed him out.
Now, the only thing keeping Lincoln: The Action Movie from becoming a reality is figuring out how to get Mick Foley into the picture.
2. John F. Kennedy
The pre-Camelot life of JFK -- focusing on his World War II heroics as the commander of a PT boat -- seems like a natural for a war flick --
Oh wait, they already did that.
1. Theodore Roosevelt
A sickly, frail youth who overcame a series of personal tragedies and became an indomitable athlete, toughened fighter, and the top crimefighter in the most dangerous city in America, all by the force of his own willpower?
Stick a cape on him, and Teddy Roosevelt would've been frickin' Batman.