“The Avengers” opened to the biggest film opening of all time – making over $200 million at the box office in a single weekend in cinemas in North America, and set to become one of only a handful of movies to gross $1 billion worldwide. Unknown to many is that these characters were created by three Jews (Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon), and the film consists of an all-star team of Marvel Super heroes. These were some tough Jewish superheroes – and as has been documented, they are also real life avengers and heroes who took revenge upon those who killed Jews.
The media has not often portrayed Jews as tough – but in real life there are many tough Jews as I recently wrote, and there are also many tough Jewish characters in movies and TV. It’s a list open for debate, but it consists of no gangsters, entails mainstream movies with mass-market appeal, and is written by a PR agency owner, not a Rabbi.
In no particular order, below a list of the top 10 tough Jewish characters in Movie & TV:
* Tuvia, Zus and Asael Bielski in “Defiance”: Starring in one of the greatest Jewish movies ever, these were three Jewish warrior brothers who fought the Nazis; they were tough but decent good real-life and on-screen heroes.
* Ari Ben-Canaan in “Exodus”: The heroic underground commander who outwits the British to bring Jewish immigrants into postwar Palestine. (Fittingly, the actor Paul Newman who portrayed Ben-Canaan self-identified as Jewish, “because it’s more of a challenge.”)
* Avner in “Munich”: Avner and the other Mossad agents were strong Jews who let terrorists understand that Jewish blood is not cheap. In the comedy movie “Knocked Up,” a few Jewish characters discuss how great it was to watch tough Jews beating people up, killing them and taking revenge. I agree.
* The Bear Jew in “Inglorious Basterds”: The bat-wielding Sgt. Dony Donowitz, a.k.a. “The Bear Jew,” played by Eli Roth in Quentin Tarantino’s movie about American Jewish soldiers in the immediate aftermath of World War Two, depicted a Jewish soldier who beat Nazis to death with a baseball bat.
* Richie Roberts in “American Gangster”: Russell Crowe plays a detective who wears a Star of David and tracks down a drug lord, stopping at nothing to win.
* Zohan Dvir in “Don’t Mess with the Zohan”: Surely the toughest hairdresser ever, this ex-Israeli commando played by Adam Sandler was a kind-hearted fighter with extreme capabilities.