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Moviedom’s wimpiest action heroes

By Deborah Netburn and Patrick Day, Times staff writers

Shia LaBeouf in “Transformers”

In Michael Bay’s “Transformers,” Shia LaBeouf’s Sam Witwicky ultimately saves the world from the Deceptacons, but he’s got nothing on Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox). She’s the hottest girl in school, knows how to hot-wire cars, doesn’t mumble or stutter, and even has a criminal record. What he has: parents who ask him to stay off the lawn and wonder if he’s having “happy time.” Who would you rather have save your butt when bad robots attack? (Robert Zuckerman / DreamWorks LLC/Paramount)
Mark Hamill in “Star Wars”

Other characters got the immortal lines such as “May the force be with you” and “Luke, I am your father.” But what did the ostensible hero of the original “Star Wars” trilogy whine in his first appearance? “But I wanted to go to Tacchi Station and get some power converters.” This is the son of Anakin Skywalker? No wonder his dad was trying to kill him. (Lucasfilm)
Drew Barrymore in “Charlie’s Angels”

Drew Barrymore is many things: charming, adorable, sweet, funny. What she is not, and can never be, is tough. So whose idea was it to make her the toughest Angel in the remake of “Charlie’s Angels?” We love her, but we cannot buy her as the badass, former wrestler, love ‘em and leave ‘em Dylan Sanders. (Darren Michaels / Columbia Pictures)
Chris Tucker in “Rush Hour”

In the “Rush Hour” films, Chris Tucker’s character, Det. James Carter, is a wimp because he lets Jackie Chan do most of the butt-kicking for him even though he is a cop and could theoretically do a little butt-kicking himself. In real life, Chris Tucker is a wimp because he won’t make anything but “Rush Hour” movies. (Peter Sorel / New Line Cinema)
Tobey Maguire in “Spider-Man”

The whole point of the Spider-Man character is that even gentle, aw-shucks, bashful guys who love science and picture-taking can be heroes too. In this case, Tobey Maguire’s wimpy (read human) portrayal of Peter Parker renders the superhero sweet and relatable. This is the kind of action hero we love to see. (Merrick Morton / Columbia Pictures)
Orlando Bloom in “Pirates of the Caribbean”

Johnny Depp was supposed to be the comic relief, which meant that Orlando Bloom would take on the traditional Errol Flynn swashbuckling romantic lead. But somewhere along the way Depp became both the hero and the comic relief and Bloom was left on the sidelines, attempting to look menacing beneath his starter mustache and marvelous cheekbones. (Peter Mountain / Disney Enterprises)
John Cusack in “Con Air”

Can a Bruckheimer-style action hero get away with wearing Birkenstocks? Cusack certainly tried in “Con Air,” the fiercely independent actor’s attempt to retain some sense of individuality amid the crashes and booms of the Bruckheimer action money wagon. Unfortunately, unless you’re Russell Crowe and fighting tigers in an arena, sandals don’t convey swaggering machismo. At least he didn’t wear a Hawaiian shirt. (Buena Vista Pictures)
Lori Petty in “Tank Girl”

Credit should go to all involved by trying to do something different with this futuristic “Road Warror"-style sci-fi flick. They had talking kangaroo people, a great villain in Malcolm McDowell and a fun, campy attitude. Unfortunately, Lori Petty was no Mad Max and all the oddball direction and ideas in the world could not replace old-fashioned star quality. (Suzanne Tenner)
Elijah Wood in “Lord of the Rings”

The real hero of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy is Sam Gamgee (a bearish Sean Astin) who literally had to carry the ostensible hero Frodo (a wide-eyed Elijah Wood) the last leg of his journey through Morodor. Yeah. We get that the ring was a huge burden, very heavy, ruining his soul, etc. But remember how at the last minute Frodo wasn’t even going to throw the ring into the fire? Even after Sam had practically starved for him? What a wimpy jerk! (Pierre Vinet / New Line Cinema)
Ben Affleck in “Daredevil”

He wasn’t dark, he wasn’t brooding, he wasn’t crazy or stoic. He was Ben Affleck: Daredevil. Take the chatty guy from his myriad talk-show appearances -- an affable dude with a good sense of humor about himself and all the sex appeal of your older brother -- and throw him into a red leather costume, and voila! A hero you do not make. Much as we’ve learned in presidential politics, someone you’d want to drink a beer with does not necessarily make a great superhero. (Zade Rosenthal / 20th Century Fox)
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