Welcome to Round 1 of the I Am Number Four Mogadorian Fighter Challenge with Dan and Robison Wells! Check out your sneak peek at the rest of the bracket above. But first, two average guys who just happened to have run-ins with alien invasions: Joaquin Phoenix in SIGNS (2002) vs. Tom Cruise in WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005).
Dan: This is my favorite bracket, because it’s the only time either of these guys is going to win anything for the rest of the competition. All they do is defend their families—I think they both defend Dakota Fanning, actually.
Rob: You would think so, but one of them defends Abigail Breslin. I’m not sure which one.
Dan: Okay, let’s consider: On the one hand we have Tom Cruise, in arguably his least competent action hero role, playing a jerk you don’t like. But he is intense and willing to do anything. At one point he goes into one of the alien cages just to get his daughter out. That’s pretty impressive. On the other hand you have Joaquin Phoenix playing a moron, and a couple of kids convince him to wear a tinfoil hat, and then a dead lady tells him to swing his bat, and he kills an alien so stupid he can’t even wear pants. I’m going to give this one to Tom Cruise.
Rob: I’m also going to give this to Tom Cruise, because he does more than one thing. In both movies the ending is stupid. In SIGNS the aliens are defeated because they’re allergic to water, and they come to a planet that’s 80% water.
Dan: And they don’t wear pants!
Rob: They don’t wear clothes. The aliens in WAR OF THE WORLDS aren’t much smarter, though, because they’re a vast spacefaring civilization that forgets to bring antibiotics, and they all get sick and die. But neither guy in either movie actually solves the big problem; they just protect their family.
Dan: Like you said, though, at least Tom Cruise does more than one thing. Phoenix spends most of the movie never seeing any aliens, but Cruise does thing after thing to try to outrun them or out-think them and save his family.
Rob: Plus, Phoenix uses a bat while Cruise uses a grenade.
Dan: So anyway, the point is, Tom Cruise wins.
Rob: He does.
WINNER: Tom Cruise