Top 10 Fictional Movie Presidents

What makes a movie president memorable? Sometimes it’s rousing speeches, sometimes it’s the ability to lead through a crisis, and other times it’s because he was just that evil. But occasionally, it involves kicking a little ass. In honor of the release of "Olympus Has Fallen" on March 22nd, 2013 (in which the President and White House are seized by terrorists), WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 fictional movie presidents. For this list, we’ve decided to stick with memorable but fictional American presidents from movies, not TV – sorry, no love for David Palmer or Jed Bartlet here.
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Top 10 Fictional Movie Presidents


Hail to these chiefs. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 movie presidents.

For this list, we’ve decided to stick with memorable but fictional American presidents from movies, and not TV – sorry, no love for David Palmer or Jed Bartlet here.

#10 – President Jackson Evans: “The Contender” (2000) – Jeff Bridges

This “dude” plays one helluva President – a guy who’d shoot baskets or share his sandwich, but who won’t go down without a fight. Determined to see the first female Vice President, Evans crusades against misogyny, partisanship and underhanded politicians to make this dream a reality. Poised, articulate, idealistic and fearless, Bridges earned an Oscar nod for portraying a leader anyone would want in the White House.

#9 – President Alan Richmond: “Absolute Power” (1997) – Gene Hackman

The tagline is “absolute power corrupts absolutely,” and we’d have to agree if President Richmond is any indication. He likes the rough stuff, but not when it’s aimed his way – and that leaves him with a dead mistress and a potentially career-ending scandal on his hands. Hackman expertly portrays the character’s gravitas, tyranny and heartlessness as he makes some ruthless decisions. Also, watch for everyone’s favorite TV president!

#8 – President James Dale: “Mars Attacks!” (1996) – Jack Nicholson

President Jimmy Dale is one of those friendly, clever politicians; but at the heart of it, he’s kinda naïve. Dale doesn’t want to nuke Earth’s newest visitors; he’s interested in a friendly and peaceful encounter with the invading Martians. It’s a valiant and optimistic effort – unfortunately, things don’t really go his way. Over-the-top? Yes. Effective? Obviously not. Memorable? Absolutely.

#7 – President Jack Stanton: “Primary Colors” (1998) – John Travolta

Yes, we specified our entries should be pure fiction, and technically Jack Stanton is. But his warmth, southern drawl, mean speech-making abilities and doughnut habit are reminiscent of a certain President who also loved the ladies. Governor Stanton doesn’t actually become President until the end, but he is a prime example of a flawed man who could make a great leader when faced with the realities of modern politics.

#6 – President Bill Mitchell/Dave Kovic: “Dave” (1993) – Kevin Kline

While cheating on his wife, President Mitchell suffers a stroke, winds up in a coma and must be replaced by a lookalike. The President’s compassionate doppelganger Dave wins the memorable President prize hands down, because he fights for change, and against evil Washington string-pullers – with a little romantic comedy on the side. In fact, Dave may be the most honest – and most effective – movie President we’ve ever seen.

#5 – President Merkin Muffley: “Dr. Strangelove” (1964) – Peter Sellers

Leave it to a neurotic guy like this to cause the end of life as we know it. Nestled in his War Room, this unfortunately-named Commander-in-Chief demonstrates weakness in the face of The Bomb, Doomsday machines and rogue soldiers. He tries hard, but there are no marks for effort when nukes are involved. Satire or not, Muffley is a worst-case scenario leader for a worst-case scenario scenario.

#4 – President Andrew Shepherd: “The American President” (1995) – Michael Douglas

A widowed President as the romantic lead – go figure. Running the free world leaves little time for dating, but President Shepherd manages – even if everyday activities are tough to pull off at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. As Commander-in-Chief, he’s willing to make unpopular choices, and reminds us of the presidency’s potential for greatness: anyone can respect a man who stands up for what he believes in, whether it’s gun control or his lady.

#3 – President Thomas J. Whitmore: “Independence Day” (1996) – Bill Pullman

If you like your leaders with extra cheese, he’s your man: the presidential cliché to end all presidential clichés, Whitmore is a Gulf War vet, a patriot if ever there was one, and one inspiring speechmaker. It’s not often you see the President physically leading his troops into battle – especially against aliens – but Whitmore puts his money where his mouth is, while convincing people to take back their planet.

#2 – President Tom Beck: “Deep Impact” (1998) – Morgan Freeman

If ever we need to hear bad news, we hope it comes from Morgan Freeman. Using his calming voice, charismatic President Beck informs the country of impending doom. But, like other great leaders, Beck makes tough decisions when it counts, like enacting martial law, selecting which citizens will populate the underground bunkers and sending nukes to blow up the incoming comet. He then leads the country through one epic restoration.

#1 – President James Marshall: “Air Force One” (1997) – Harrison Ford

A Vietnam War hero, with masculine good looks, authoritative charm and an unshakeable moral center – no wonder this guy got elected. Nothing beats a leader who’s intelligent as they come, but who’s also unafraid of kicking butt. Marshall must save the day when the bad guys board his plane, and in the process he brings new meaning to the phrase “we don’t negotiate with terrorists.” Just one word comes to mind when discussing President Marshall: Badass.

Do you agree with our list? Who is your favorite movie President? For more great top 10s, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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