What does it take to be a good movie president? For starters, confidence and charisma are two qualities that every successful movie president tends to have. If the actor can’t convince the audience that they should be president, how is the country then supposed to believe in them? Making strong decisions is another crucial aspect of the job. Whether it’s defeating a group of terrorists on a plane or saving the world from an alien invasion, good movie presidents always trust their instincts and never give up.
One of the best portrayals of a president on film belongs to Harrison Ford as President James Marshall in Air Force One. The action movie celebrated its 25th anniversary on July 25, and we started thinking about the best movie presidents, and their chances of succeeding in the real White House. Here are five movie presidents we believe could actually run the United States of America. Apologies to Martin Sheen’s President Jed Bartlett on The West Wing, but this list will only focus on the greatest presidents in movies, not television.
President James Marshall in Air Force One
The aforementioned Ford as President Marshall in Air Force One is a strong candidate to run the U.S. because of his “never say die” attitude. When Russian terrorists hijack Air Force One, did Marshall elect to use the escape pod and head to safety?
No, because that’s not what a Vietnam War veteran and Medal of Honor recipient would do. Marshall stalked, hunted, and apprehended the terrorists one by one until he finally regained control of his aircraft. The pen is mightier than the sword, but sometimes, two fists and an innate ability to survive are exactly what the country needs in its president.
Air Force One is available to stream on Pluto TV.
President Andrew Shepherd in The American President
In terms of bills and policies, no movie president implemented more democratic principles upon the American people than Andrew Shepherd in The American President. Played by Michael Douglas, Shepherd understood the crazy game of politics and how ideas mean nothing if you don’t have the votes in Congress.
By the end of the film, Shepherd announced his intention to send an environmental bill to Congress that would cut the use of fossil fuels by 20%. Shepherd also fought for strong gun control measures. Political beliefs aside, a confident and charming president who takes action with grace and humility would work in the White House.
The American President is available to stream on Starz.
Dave Kovic in Dave
Technically, Kevin Kline’s Dave Kovic impersonated President Bill Mitchell, but that doesn’t mean this imposter lacks leading man qualities. Unlike the real Mitchell, who was prickly and an adulterer, Kovic was charming and empathetic, which catches the eye of the First Lady and the country. Although we can’t support blackmailing the administration to remain president, charitable actions such as funding a homeless shelter sound pretty presidential to us.
Dave is available to rent on all available platforms.
Thomas J. Whitmore in Independence Day
If aliens ever decide to take over the planet, there’s only one person who can save the world and that’s President Thomas J. Whitmore. When it was time to stand and fight, Bill Pullman’s Whitmore did not run and hide in the situation room. Instead, Whitmore, a former pilot during the Gulf War, led an aerial attack that defeated the extraterrestrials and saved humans from extinction at the end of Independence Day.
It also helps that Whitmore recited one of the most iconic speeches ever given by a U.S. President, both real or fictional. It’s not the Gettysburg Address, but for my money, it’s an elite speech for a president.
Independence Day is available to stream on Prime Video.
President Benjamin Asher in Olympus Has Fallen/London Has Fallen
This is probably the most polarizing selection on the list, but Aaron Eckhart’s President Asher in Olympus Has Fallen and its sequel, London Has Fallen, is a worthy candidate to lead the country. Asher is a tenacious leader who survived not one, but two terrorist attacks. Asher was not afraid to die for his country and fought back when it came time to defend his people. His perseverance is exactly the type of quality that’s necessary to be the leader of the free world.
Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen are both available to stream on Netflix.