Let’s face it: If you spend your days voluntarily staring at a variety of glowing rectangles, chances are you’re probably not much of a daredevil. That said, the things you’re seeing and hearing via those rectangles might inspire you to wish you could change your ways—if only for a few minutes after the movie/show/song is over.
So in honor of Mockingjay — Part 1’s rebelliously action-packed release this weekend, we’ve posed the following question to our staff this week: What’s the movie/TV show/song/book that makes you embrace your inner badass?
Ashley Fetters, EW.com news editor: I’ll never get over my first encounter with Lara Croft. I apologize in advance, purists: The iteration I loved was Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider, not the video-game character. But either way, I think it was the first time I’d ever seen strength and swagger look so damn cool on a woman. Today there are, like, 20 different badass movie women I routinely pretend to be when I’m at the gym (Run Lola Run’s Lola when I’m on the treadmill, Demi Moore in G.I. Jane when I’m successfully executing 500 one-arm push-ups, etc.), but whenever I need to summon the guts to handle something that terrifies me, the question is still, WWLCD?
Lanford Beard, staff editor: I danced since I was literally in the womb (my mom’s a tap dance teacher) until several years after college… but let’s just say my skillz have gotten a little rusty as I’ve aged. Normally, I don’t really think about the fact that I’m doing less pirouettes and switch kicks than I used to on a day-to-day basis. But every couple of years, I go to the theater, reunite with Robert “Moose” Alexander III, and want to embrace my inner dance battler. Hi, my name is Lanford, and I have a Step Up problem. Some people don’t consider dancing badass (probably the same jerks who deny that cheerleading is a sport). Those people should watch this and this, then seriously reconsider their priorities.
Kyle Ryan, EW.com editor: I’m unable to listen to music on my headphones without thinking it’s secretly soundtracking a movie scene, so I have about a million songs that qualify. One that’s lasted a good 20 years is “AOK” by Face to Face. Being a macho badass has never suited me, but I aspire to be a defiant badass. And “AOK” is all about the kiss-off: In the bridge to the chorus, singer-guitarist Trever Keith sings, “I don’t know what you want from me / But it’s probably already gone / And I don’t care what you think of me / Your opinion means nothing at all.” What follows seals it: “Don’t say I’m okay / Don’t say I’m okay / Don’t say I’m okay / I’m not okay.” It’s wounded but defiant. Whenever I’ve felt underestimated, underappreciated, or otherwise pissed off, “AOK” has made me feel like things will be, well, okay.
Jeff Labrecque, senior writer: This guy I know—let’s call him Jeff L. to spare him some embarrassment—immediately drove to Walmart after seeing 8 Mile to buy a three-pack of thermal shirts and a gray knit cap, put them on before he got back in the car, and then cruised home in his Ford Escort with the soundtrack blasting. He might have intimidated the “gang” of kids on Razor scooters on his block with just a cold stare.
Natalie Abrams, senior writer: I have an entire playlist that is just Eminem’s 8 Mile on loop to listen to while I run. It’s actually probably the least badass thing ever, but I flip my hood up B-Rabbit style, and it pumps me up just enough to make it through another mile.
Joshua Rivera, EW.com writer: TIL I COLLAPSE, I’M SPILLING THESE RAPS AS LONG AS YOU FEEL ‘EM TIL THE DAY THAT I DROP YOU’LL NEVER SAY THAT I’M NOT KILLIN’ THEM. ‘CAUSE WHEN I AM NOT, THEN I’MA STOP PENNING ‘EM. [does a single bench press, imagines fifty more]
Ben Boskovich, assistant social media editor: On a cool September evening in 2011, a 21-year-old me emerged from the theater on opening night of Drive with fire in his eyes. The chorus of “A Real Hero” was still ringing in my ears, and before I even got to my car, these gloves were in my mobile Amazon cart ready for purchase. My best friend, Mark, and I hopped into my 2007 Chevy Cobalt (LT model, with the power windows, you guys) and started the 5-minute drive home inspired. A curb jumped, a cement truck (barely) avoided, and a lot of angry neighbors later, I realized: I am no Gosling.
Chris Rackliffe, senior social media editor: I can’t watch the Charlie’s Angels movies without getting seriously pumped. There’s something about the ladies looking flawless and kicking ass that just sits so well with me. After several times watching it at home, I’ve had to go for a midnight jog to calm myself down. And then I still did a roundhouse kick (or two) in my room.
Breia Brissey, associate editor: It’s 10 percent luck and 20 percent skill that I know all the words to Fort Minor’s “Remember the Name.” But it’s 100 percent clear that no one should ever have to listen to me rap along to it; they’d remember my name, but not for any good reasons. Still, it’s a staple on my workout playlist. It always makes me feel like I could save the world, or at least run a marathon. Thankfully, that feeling always passes after the song ends.
Stephan Lee, correspondent: I saw Thirteen starring Evan Rachel Wood my senior year of high school, and it made me want to be moody and wildly dysfunctional for the first time in my life. I didn’t get a tongue piercing or a tattoo—but I did get a really bad grade in AP Physics, made my mom cry, and passed off a Fiona Apple song as an original poem in a college application. (Calm down, Mom; it was a joke, and I told the truth in a footnote.) I didn’t find my Evie Zamora (Nikki Reed’s finest role to date,) but I did become best friends with a rebel girl with ADHD who drove a Suburu while dangling her foot out the window.
Esther Zuckerman, staff writer: I went through a big Lord of the Rings phase in the early 2000s. I was in middle school, and—yes, this is relevant—a horseback rider. Hence, Éowyn was my girl. I was obsessed with that scene in Fellowship wherein Arwen takes Frodo to Rivendell as Ringwraiths chase her. The “If you want him, come and claim him!” moment. A scrape on the cheek never looked so cool.
Darren Franich, Senior Writer: Every single moment that Clint Eastwood is onscreen in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is a moment that makes me wish I could spend my days strolling around town in a poncho-cape. I would rock perfect fifteen-o-clock stubble, and barely ever say anything, and squint all the time. Also, whenever I did something cool, the whole world would be filled with the “Aww-EEE-awww-EEE-awww” sound.
Andrea Towers, EW Community assistant editor: By all critical accounts (including EW’s own), The Island was a flop of a film. Yet somehow, 2005 me became obsessed with that one action sequence where Lincoln Six-Echo and Delta Two-Jordan go on the run, which basically turns into a 10-minute-long chase filled with a lot of explosions. I walked out of that theater and for at least five minutes, I felt like I could jump off a building and survive. (Then I remembered Michael Bay wasn’t directing my life, which is probably a good thing.)
Melissa Maerz, TV critics: I think everyone should have their own personal “outro music,” the song you imagine playing while you’re a) walking out the door after quitting your job in a very public display of “screw you, boss lady!” bad-assery, or b) walking away from that building you just blew up. (As the Lonely Island guys sang, “Cool guys don’t look at explosions / They blow things up and then walk away.”) For me, growing up in the Northwest during the 1990s, when the riot grrl scene was huge, my outro music was Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl.” In my mind, the building always blew up right after this line: “That girl thinks she’s the queen of the neighborhood / I got news for you: SHE IS!” (Note to HR: I love my job, and promise not to bomb the building.)
Samantha Highfill, correspondent: I’m a pretty easy target when it comes to this sort of thing: I can’t leave a Fast & Furious film without wanting to be Dominic Toretto—or Letty, rather—and my “pump-up” playlist is always growing. But there is one less-obvious film that always gets me in a fighting mood: Enough. Watching Jennifer Lopez get her revenge on her abusive ex simply by beating him in hand-to-hand combat will never get old. Let’s just say I hit up my Marine uncle for some training after this film.
Danielle Nussbaum, senior west coast editor: When I lived in NYC, I used to go to a no-frills, hardcore boxing gym in Chelsea and was initially pretty timid about my workouts. But it just so happened that at the time, I was bingeing on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, worshipping at the altar of Joss and mainlining four or five episodes a day. Watching Buffy kick ass was a hell of a motivator—but the day after I saw Faith beat the hell out of a vampire in “Faith, Hope, and Trick,” I walked into the gym and told my trainer (a former Golden Gloves winner) that I wanted to look like that, showed him a pic on my phone, and then proceeded to wail on him when we sparred in the ring. So much so that when I took off my gloves, I had split open one of my knuckles. Victory.
Ariana Bacle, EW.com writer: I am most definitely not a motherf—ing monster, but I definitely feel like one whenever Kanye West’s “Monster” comes on shuffle. Even if I’m lying in bed lazily browsing the internet, I’m ready to put on some shoes and run a marathon as soon as I hear that first “roar.” Although I never quite make it to 26 miles, the song inspires enough adrenaline that I can spend a mile feeling like the toughest 5’1” girl in Brooklyn before wishing I were back in bed.
Hillary Busis, staff editor: Spend just 16 seconds listening to this—up through the first “BAM. BAM BAM BAM. BAM BAM BAM. BAM BAM BAAAAAAM”—and try to tell me you don’t feel ready to take on Clubber Lang at Madison Square Garden…then, three years later, single-handedly end the Cold War.