They may win in the end, but they often go through hell to get there. Here's our handy checklist of beat downs, bullet wounds, and general abuse.
13. CLARK KENT, <i>SUPERMAN II</i>- 2 punchings
1 fall through plate glass
1 elbow to gut
Incident report: Clark ain't shit without his powers, and Pepper Martin proves it in a diner fight. Five minutes later, Clark hauls ass to the Fortress of Solitude to renew the subscription to his alien ass-kickingness.
Doctor's note: "Going through plate glass, depending upon how it shatters, could be pretty significant, severing arteries, tendons, or puncturing other major organs."
The expert: Dr. Jeffrey Manko, assistant professor of emergency medicine at NYU Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital Center, and consultant on movies like Extreme Measures and TV shows like The Sopranos. If anyone knows just how pulpy these guys would be in the real world, it's this guy.
12. THE TERMINATOR, <i>TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY</i>- 9 throws through wall/plate glass/clothing racks/against steel beams/down stairs
1 truck crash
1 partial scalp removal
1 self-extracted forearm
1 arm crushed by giant gear
1 complete melting by molten liquid
Incident report: He does technically "die" at the end, scoring him some serious action hero points. He loses some for the whole "doesn't feel pain" thing, though.
Doctor's note: "All bets are off when it comes to robots. I don't treat machinery."
11. JOHN J. RAMBO, <i>FIRST BLOOD</i>- 2 whacks/chokes with nightstick
1 blast with high-pressure fire hose
3 knife slashes across chest
1 stringing up on bamboo cross
1 fall off motorcycle
2 rib smashings/arm gashings on tree branch during fall
1 self-stitched arm wound, sans anesthetic
1 graze by bullet in forehead
Incident report: Unless they're Viet Cong, not too many people remain upright around Rambo long enough to hurt him more than once.
Doctor's note: "Watching him stitch himself up seems like the worst, but people inject themselves with drugs every day and suchering is basically just putting a needle in your skin. Falling off the motorcycle without a helmet is a much bigger deal."
10. JASON BOURNE, <i>THE BOURNE SUPREMACY</i>- 4 car crashes/sideswipes/tunnel divider rammings
6 punches to face/head
1 battered leg in hard fall
1 shot to shoulder
Incident report: Bourne suffers most of his injuries while driving, placing him just a notch above most U.S. citizens. Getting shot's more severe, but not for a guy who's already survived it three or four times.
Doctor's note: "He walks away from the crash, so his injuries couldn't have been too severe. A bullet in the shoulder is bad, though; you wouldn't be using your arm a lot after that."
9. PORTER, <i>PAYBACK</i>- 1 slash across forearm with kitchen knife
2 slaps to face/back of head
1 forehead slam onto steering wheel during car wreck
2 strikes by a car
2 toes smashed off with a hammer
Incident report: For a guy taking on several gangs (and corrupt cops) all by his lonesome, he doesn't fare as badly as you'd expect.
Doctor's note: "Sometimes people get what we call bumper injuries, which can be pretty severe, even at low speeds. Generally, if someone wants to make you the hood ornament on a car, you're going to end up severely injured."
8. MARTIN RIGGS, <i>LETHAL WEAPON 2</i>- 2 shoulder dislocations/relocations
2 falls out window/moving car
1 clubbing to back of head
1 nearly drowning
1 stabbing in thigh
8 kicks to various parts of body
5 gunshots to chest and back
Incident report: Riggs takes a licking, but we all know he comes back for two more sequels, so he's obviously got a serious pain threshold.
Doctor's note: "Relocating your shoulder looks horrible, but the more you dislocate, the easier it is to dislocate and subsequently relocate. Five bullets is a lot, though. If they ran that by me, I would probably tell them it's too unrealistic."
7. JOHN MCCLANE, <i>DIE HARD</i>- 5 slams through wall
1 hurl down stairs
1 run barefoot across broken glass
7 punches/kicks in face
1 scorch by explosion
2 gunshots to shoulder
1 swing through plate glass window
Incident report: This is pretty typical action hero stuff. If you can't get kicked in the face six times by an ex–ballet dancer, you have no business rescuing hostages.
Doctor's note: "When you cut your feet up like that there's going to be a lot of blood and a huge amount of pain, but as far as an injury goes it's really not that serious."
6. DUTCH, <i>PREDATOR</i>- 1 laser blast to chest
3 falls off cliff/over waterfall/out of tree
1 throw against rocks
2 backhand slaps
10 punches to face
Incident report: Dutch spends most of the movie kicking ass without a scratch, and only gets an intergalactic beat down once he finally goes mano a mano with the alien.
Doctor's note: "Until I figure out what kind of damage a laser blast would do, I'd say the falls would do the most damage. Pick a part of the body and you can injure it with a fall—like his legs, head, or if you're unlucky, neck."
5. INDIANA JONES, <i>RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK</i>- 12 punchings/kickings
2 gunshots to arm
4 throws against wall/through truck windshield/to the ground/head-first into bar
1 scalding by torch
4 kicks/punches to bullet wound
1 dragging under speeding truck
Incident report: It's one thing to get shot several times and keep going, it's another when people insist on punching you where you got shot. That's like whacking a fly with a newspaper and then shitting down its neck.
Doctor's note: "If you've ever spilled hot tea on yourself, you know how easy it is to get burned. With something like a torch, you have to worry about disfiguring your face and losing your sight. Fire is bad stuff, man."
4. JACK/TYLER DURDEN, <i>FIGHT CLUB</i>- 34 punchings
2 knees to gut
3 face smashings against concrete
6 throws against bookshelf/ticket machine/wall/through window/down stairs
1 totaled car
5 strikes with shoe/antennae
1 hair pulling, dragging
1 face blown out by gunshot
Incident report: Jack and his alter ego wear meat masks for the movie's entire run time. Given the fact that most wounds were self-inflicted, however, the judges deducted points.
Doctor's note: "This many punches can leave you with a fractured jaw, cheekbone and nose, lost teeth, and brain damage. Plus, you can go blind. Some people take a punch better than others, though. That's why you and I are talking here instead of standing in a boxing ring."
3. THE BLACK KNIGHT, <i>MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL</i>- 1 bonk on head
1 severed right arm
1 severed left arm
1 severed right leg
1 severed left leg
Incident report: Gets hacked down to a Potato Head doll in short order. You have to give him credit for showing some real heart.
Doctor's note: "I've been doing this a long time, and I've never seen all four limbs severed; the hemorrhaging would be deadly. Luckily, the blood vessels have a safety mechanism that helps them clot on their own. It's sort of like when you cut your thumb slicing a bagel. You need elevation and pressure, and, of course, surgery."
2. JAMES BOND, <i>CASINO ROYALE</i>- 9 hard falls
18 kicks/elbows/punches/slashes in chest/strikes with police baton in face
1 clip by shrapnel in forehead
2 machetes to forearm
2 needle injections/poisonings
1 flipped car
1 microchip gouged out of wrist
5 blows to balls by knotted rope
1 shot by nail gun
Incident report: Bond's ratio of getting-ass-kicked-to-not-getting-ass-kicked is off the charts. Roger Moore didn't get this bloodied in all seven of his movies.
Doctor's note: "That kind of damage to the groin would obviously be incredibly painful. Would they have to amputate? God, I hope not. Could he die from it? [Sighs regretfully about taking our call] Probably not."
1. JESUS OF NAZARETH, <i>THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST</i>- 108 whippings
1 throw off bridge
1 puncturing of forehead by crown of thorns
6 kicks in ribs and back
1 spearing in ribs
Incident report: Holy fucking Christ. Jesus is thoroughly beat down from beginning to end, reduced to a blood sprinkler by the time it's all over. We're just relieved that the ending keeps things open for a sequel.
Doctor's note: "I have absolutely no experience with whipping, but I know it's meant to cause a lot of pain and bleeding. It's not meant to kill, because it was used as a repeatable punishment, but you can die from any kind of beating, especially one that's opening skin like that."