It's a question that's been dividing action film fans for close to three decades. A question to which there is no right or wrong answer, really. Whoever is your favorite action hero depends on who you are, how you've been raised and what makes you tick as a moviegoer. Of course, I have an answer for you, but you have to know first that I love both Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.They are in a class of their own.
If action movies were a hierarchy, Arnie would be President of the United States, but Stallone would be God himself. As powerful as a Schwarzenegger stint of destruction can be, he always lacked that transcendant aspect to me. He was 500% badass, but he didn't have that abstract varnish that made you wonder what the fuck just happened and believe in miracles at the same time. According to the same fictional hierarchy, Jason Statham would be a regional manager for Target and Paul Walker would be a heroin addict with hepatitis. Truly, Sly and Arnie are unique, but Sly is just a tiny bit more unique. Let's compare the two.
Both are awesomely bad at it. So bad it somewhat became their trademark. But Arnie has an excuse for speaking like poodle on crystal meth : he's Austrian. English is his second language AND he speaks it more clearly than Stallone. I have no idea why Sly is so bad at English, but I love it. Maybe the massive intake of HGH deformed his jaw and left him with a speech impediment, but when he gets all riled up in a movie, his jaw gets crooked and his dialogue becomes akin to the drunken slur of a handicapped war vet, I see God a little bit.
The body of an action hero is important as it's the reflection of who you are. Looks are also extremely important when you're carrying yourself around with little elocution skills. Arnold has the edge in that category, because he was an actual body builder, so he's been big pretty much all his life. In Stallone's case, it's a little funnier (it's always a little funnier with Stallone). His body is an armor created by steroids and insecurities. Arnold looked like the idealized American soldier in the 80s, despite his obvious germanic accent, but Stallone looked like...like...like a man who didn't know exactly what he was doing when he put all these things in his body.
This one really depends on what you prefer to watch. Arnie was always about mass destruction as Sly was more about fistfighting and gruesome murders. The high point of violence for Schwarzenegger was COMMANDO, a ninety-minutes long point-and-laugh joke at how action movies were made back then. As for Stallone, the Rambo series speak for itself. Over the 80s, it took the hero of a respectable genre author's novel and turned it into the all-american, mildly-retarded, PTSD afflicted killing machine we all know and love.
This is where Stallone wins the war for me. He has a gift for surreal, what-the-fuck-did-I-just-watched type of violence. Take BULLET TO THE HEAD for example. Why in the blue hell would you fight somebody one on one with fire axes? What kind of romantic folklore bullshit is that? I stopped thinking about stuff like this when I turned twelve. Nobody could have pulled it off but Stallone, because he is the God of this strange universe where ass kicking is the currency. Arnie had his moments too, notably TOTAL RECALL which is two hours of absolute chaos, but he was always too earnest and straightforward to compete with Stallone's murderous juju.
So, who do YOU prefer? Sly or Arnie? What are your reasons?