Mega-muscled John Matrix--Arnold Schwarzenegger, with all guns a-blazin' in "Commando"--has snared the lead in the preliminary balloting in our competition for the Greatest American Hero.
Last week, we asked patriotic readers to rate the skills (survival, good looks, ability to speak, etc.) and comment (25 words or less) on three current he-men of the screen--Matrix (Schwarzenegger), Matt Hunter (Chuck Norris in "Invasion U.S.A.") and John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone in "Rambo: First Blood Part II"). Readers--ever strange--also submitted some of their own heroes. Their comments follow:
Rambo had 24 hours; Hunter had 16 hours. But Matrix did it in 11 hours and time is money.
With his modern, streamlined haircut, acerbic wit, huge muscles, love of children and kindness to animals, John Matrix is the booty-kicking he-man of the '80s.
The man fought off a terrorist army and gave its leader nightmares. After blowing up, gunning down and knifing hundreds of Latin terrorists he survive, marred by just one scratch over his right eye. Quien es muy macho? Matt Hunter.
Rambo is the Mothra of the '80s: A monster for our time.
Charles Bronson. Because he singlehandedly in "Death Wish" made the streets of New York safe . New York City--the world's most dangerous place (possibly with the exception of a K mart parking lot on Saturdays).
Also, he was the first macho star to draw big at the box office. Stallone, Norris and Schwarzenegger owe Bronson for breaking ground, for conquering untamed territory.
If it's heroes you want, you got it! John Wayne--a.k.a. the Duke. Now there's a guy who will go to the mat for you.
P.S. Of the three you list, Chuck Norris is the one with true hand-to-hand experience. But let us not forget: Superman, Dirty Harry, Ronald Reagan, Indiana Jones, Rin Tin Tin.
THOMAS C. FLYNN
If you have to trivialize movie entertainment with a contest choosing a Great American Hero, how about choosing a heroine instead--Scarlett O'Hara, portrayed by Vivien Leigh in "Gone With the Wind."
Her commitment to American ideals was stalwart and completely realistic.
No one witnessing the scene on her plantation, Tara, when she throws up after eating a radish and then vows to never be hungry again, can debate her ability to live off the land.
At Tara, shooting the Yankee marauder in the face certainly illustrates her competency with weaponry and improvising.
Who can deny her physical beauty?
The capacity to withstand pain is best illustrated when she gives birth to her daughter Bonnie, and later is demonstrated by her survival after a fall down a long flight of stairs while pregnant.
She is even-tempered, when necessary, witty and personable and her ability to speak lines is peerless.
R. GUY STEINER
All the same, we've disqualified this letter because it ran well over 25 words.
My candidate: Buckaroo Banzai. Not only does he possess the majority of the qualities listed, he stands unafraid in the face of unknown terrors from the depths of space (not to mention Washington), he's a natty dresser, plays good rock 'n' roll and isn't shy about admitting he wears glasses.
All right! So America wants a hero with guts, someone who can strike fear into the hearts of villainous Commies! Someone who can survive almost unbearable odds! Someone who is as American as apple pie and Brussels sprouts! Of course, only one guy can fit this description . . . the only one who can save us from the violence of the world . . . Mr. Potato Head!
Imagine, good ol' MPH armed to the teeth with grenades, knives, Uzis, M-60s, etc., running around infiltrating Soviet bases, dodging endless showers of bullets and protecting America's potato crop from would-be attackers! What a hero!
Mr. Potato Head Foundation of America
Your "The Greatest" criteria for superheroism has never been more powerfully present than in the screen's wiliest fighter of man's inhumanity--Godzilla! Who better lives off the land, improvises his defense, withstands pain (I'd like to see Rambo take a 600-pound cadmium bomb down his throat), flexes his pectorals as convincingly and makes the written word so universally understood? Sure, he may be an import, but is his green card any less valid than Schwarzenegger's, and his diction less clear than Stallone's? I trust xenophobia has not already marred this worthwhile contest.
Worldwide Publicity and Promotion
New World Pictures
New World is home to "Godzilla 1985." Obviously.