President’s Day is upon us, which means it’s time to cook the turkey, exchange gifts, and check out the fireworks. Just kidding. Nobody really celebrates President’s Day, except for maybe getting the day off work, but I think it’s about time we did. And what’s the best way to do that, you may be wondering? By remembering the worst, and a few of the best, presidents from science fiction movies.
Most of the time, presidents in science fiction are pretty terrible. This is partly due to the fact that a lot of sci-fi takes place in dystopian times, which naturally are governed by horrible tyrants. Other sci-fi events, like worldwide disasters or alien invasions, tend to bring out the worst or the best in the country’s presidents as well. So take a look below at the worst characters ever to lead the United States in a sci-fi movie, along with the select few who actually did a decent job.
Worst – Coriolanus Snow, The Hunger Games
Technically he’s President of Panem, since the U.S. no longer exists, but man oh man is he terrible. Not only does he keep the masses poor and powerless, he also runs a game show that forces their children to kill each other. He’s also weirdly obsessed with flowers.
Worst – James Dale, Mars Attacks!
He may not be evil, but his ineptitude nearly leads to the destruction of Earth by the invading Martians.
Worst – President Widmore, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
He wants to do what’s right, hypothetically, but this dimwitted prez completely flubs Buckaroo’s advice to avoid the alien threat and instead declares nuclear war on Russia.
Best – Tom Beck, Deep Impact
Now here’s a guy who knows how to handle a crisis. Not only does he save the world from a comet, but he does so with the smooth, dulcet voice of Morgan Freeman.
Worst – The President, Escape from New York
He starts out a selfish jerk and then goes through the ordeal of being held prisoner by a group of ruthless prisoners until he’s rescued by Snake Plissken. But instead of changing his ways and being thankful for the people who gave their lives to rescue him, he shows no signs of remorse and is an even bigger jerk than before.
Worst – The President, Escape from L.A.
In the sequel to Escape from New York, the president is somehow even worse. A lot worse. Running on a campaign that God will destroy the wicked, he becomes President for Life, turns the U.S. into a theocracy where citizens must comply or be killed/exiled, and attempts to conquer the world. Thankfully, Snake Plisskin is still around to stop him.
Worst – Richard Nixon, Watchmen
The real Nixon certainly had his problems, but he wasn’t quite as bad as this fictional version, who reigns for five terms and lords over a U.S. that is both crime-ridden and authoritarian in nature.
Best – Abraham Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
20th Century Fox
He’s already the greatest president ever, so I guess the only way to make him any better is for him to be an exterminator of demonic creatures of the night.
Worst – Zartan, G.I. Joe: Retaliation
This Cobra operative is technically impersonating the real president, but while in power he manages to install Cobra as the U.S. security force, force the world’s leaders to disarm while building up his own super weapon, and even destroy London.
Worst – Raymond Becker, The Day After Tomorrow
20th Century Fox
Dick Cheney, err, Raymond Becker, is Vice President for most of the movie where he does the bulk of his damage, mainly through refusing to listen to scientists about the impending climate catastrophe and opposing citizen evacuations. He then becomes president near the end of the film after the cataclysm, proving there is no justice in the world.
Worst – Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, Idiocracy
20th Century Fox
In the year 3000, American society has dumbed down to the point where people elect a former professional wrestler with zero intellect who swears and fires a machine gun during his State of the Union address. Doesn’t seem as far-fetched as it once did.
Best – Thomas J. Whitmore, Independence Day
Was there ever any question that he would rank among the greatest? The president who flies a fighter jet to destroy the aliens, gives the most inspiring speech of all-time, and literally saves the world. I’d like to start a Whitmore 2020 campaign right now, who’s with me?!