This weekend, I witnessed Jason Statham fight a gigantic, pre-historic shark known as a megalodon in the documentary feature, The Meg. It was a battle for the ages and definitely NOT a stupid thing to do at 10 pm on a Saturday night. You see, I am terrified of sharks. I don’t consider this to be an abnormal fear, as sharks are inherently terrifying and worthy of our fear, but my level of fear is probably abnormal. It started as a bit: “The ocean is not our home”, I would say each time a shark attack was reported. “Sharks can’t get me on land”, I would joke as my friends left me alone on the sideline to galivant in the shark-infested water (even if the water was a swimming pool). But somewhere in the midst of the bit, I discovered that I was genuinely afraid of sharks and my joking turned into firmer and firmer warnings about the ocean. “WE KNOW MORE ABOUT THE MOON THAN WE KNOW ABOUT THE OCEAN!!!” I often yell at passersby in landlocked Fort Worth, Texas.
Despite this (sometimes paralyzing) fear, however, I, like millions worldwide, am also a little bit fascinated with the shark. Shark Week is a huge hit for a reason: We want to inch as close as possible to that which we fear without actually risking life and limb. I’ve watched hundreds of shark documentaries and nature shows and YouTube videos and shark-related movies even though they all super freak me out. When you combine this horror-fascination with a very reasonable love for Jason Statham, you can see why The Meg was of great interest to me in spite of knowing it would probably be horrible (SPOILER ALERT: it mostly is but sort-of in a good way?)
Regardless of overall quality (or lack thereof), there is one thing that works extremely well within The Meg: Jason Statham fighting a megalodon. Anytime the two main attractions square off, it’s awesome. It’s awesome in the biggest, stupidest, over-the-top ways and upon exiting the theater, I thought, “What other animals would make good adversaries for Jason Statham?” It’s a stupid thought, I know, but again, I went to see The Meg at 10 pm on a Saturday night on its opening weekend so, clearly, I am fine with stupid thoughts. In order to put together a list of other animals Jason Statham should fight in a movie, I did some heavy research (Read: “Googling “World’s Deadliest Animals” and a dozen different variations of that phrase”) and made a list of ten potentially-worthy opponents. In order to rank these animal adversaries, I needed to judge them each in the following three categories:
1.) How many human deaths the animal caused each year (worldwide when statistics were available, U.S.-only when necessary);
2.) How exciting the fight with Jason Statham would be;
3.) How cool it would sound when Jason Statham says, “It’s a (name of animal).” For example: “It’s a megalodon” sounds incredible; “It’s a star-nosed mole” does not.
I then ranked the selected animals from one (worst) to ten (best) in each category and gave them each the corresponding point value, allowing for a perfect score of 30 points. Here are the results.
10. Deer – 10 points
DANGER: 5 (120 deaths per year)
Did you know deer were so dangerous? Sure, most of these deaths can be attributed to car crashes that result from their propensity to stand in the middle of the road but at least a few have to be antler-related incidents. On the plus side, deadly deer posting up in the road leads to an obvious Fast and Furious crossover with Deckard Shaw seeking revenge against the deer that crashed Little Nobody’s car. On the down side, “It’s a deer” just doesn’t have much of a ring to it.
9. Spider – 10 points
DANGER: 1 (2 confirmed deaths per year though I refuse to believe this, clearly they kill way more)
First of all, there’s no way spiders only kill two people a year; I firmly believe that Science is in the pocket of Big Spider. Second, I can’t decide which would be worse: fighting one giant spider like Shelob in Return of the King or a thousand smalle- you know what, I don’t want to think about either, spiders are the WORST. Anyway, I’m too creeped out to think about this one too much; it’s not fun to see a spider ever, even if Jason Statham is punching it/them in its/their disgusting eyes.
8. Mosquito – 13 points
DANGER: 10 (725,000 deaths per year)
As someone whose blood is extremely appealing to mosquitos (I am being harassed by a mosquito as I type even though I am in my house and sitting inside a large citronella candle), I can vouch for the death statistics here. But Statham fighting a cloud of mosquitos would be less of a fight and more just a guy laying on a bed, slowly dying of malaria and what not. That might make for a solid Lars von Trier film but it’s not action-heavy enough to fall in line with what we’re looking for.
7. Scorpion – 15 points
DANGER: 8 (3500 deaths per year)
Not to go full-Seinfeld but, like, what’s the deal with scorpions? When God pitched the scorpion, a lobster mixed with a spider that lives in the desert and has a horrifying stinger, I imagine the angels shuddered. Scorpions are the third-most creepy thing in the animal kingdom behind only spiders and lampreys (IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT A LAMPREY IS PLEASE DO NOT LOOK IT UP I AM BEGGING YOU) and people who keep them as pets should be on every government watch list. Unfortunately, when I think of Jason Statham fighting a giant scorpion, all I can see is the scorpion from Clash of the Titans and that totally kills the vibe.
6. Wolf – 15 points
DANGER: 2 (10 deaths per year)
Just in general, wolves are awesome and back in the day, wolves would’ve ranked way higher on the death index, so we can spot them a few deaths just for old time’s sake. Now, a pack of wolves has been done; Liam Neeson was no match for them in what turned out to be a major bummer of a movie. But one GIANT wolf…now that’s interesting.
5. Bear – 16 points
DANGER: 3 (10+ deaths per year)
Besides dogs, there is no greater animal in all of creation than the bear. Black bear, grizzly bear, panda bear, Kodiak bear, whatever, it doesn’t matter, all bears are magnificent (except the sun bear, which really needs to get its stuff together). I’m convinced that the only reason there are only 10-ish bear-related deaths a year is because secretly they love humans and when they attack it’s really just being overwhelmed by the need to hug us and it gets out of hand. That said, Jason Statham fighting a bear (a bad bear who is NOT trying to hug humans, mind you) would be pretty awesome if not for The Revenant having already staked a claim to bear-human fights for this decade.
4. Lion – 16 points
DANGER: 4 (22 confirmed deaths per year, likely higher given all the eating they do)
The best thing about lion-related death statistics is every single site I looked at while researching this (highly scientific) piece was like, “There are DEFINITELY more than 22 deaths, these are just the ones we know about.” Very comforting. The best thing about Jason Statham fighting a lion is it would definitely lead to an entire franchise of big cat-related movies: Statham versus a tiger, Statham versus a leopard, Statham versus @BarstoolBigCat and just WRECKING him (my favorite). This franchise writes itself.
3. Hippopotamus – 18 points
DANGER: 6 (500 deaths per year)
Some things about hippos you may not know:
1.) Hippos are extremely mean;
2.) Hippos have awful, shockingly powerful teeth;
3.) Hippos actually LIKE sinking boats and chomping on the humans in said boats. It’s in their DNA because, again, they are extremely mean.
Aside from what I see as the opening scene of Jason Statham Versus a Giant Hippopotamus (a giant, angry hippo just ripping through fishing boats left and right) and the corresponding final “chase” scene, though, I can’t imagine it’d be a lot of fun to watch Statham actually fight a hippo. They’re stupid looking creatures, honestly; this is probably why they’re so mean, they’ve been bullied for their appearance throughout their existence and respond by becoming the bullies themselves. Circle of life, and what not. However, the real selling point of the hippo is the idea of hearing Jason Statham say, “It’s a hippopotamus.” Not, “It’s a hippo”; he has to say the full “hippopotamus.” Say that to yourself in your best Statham voice (you know you have one) and tell me you wouldn’t watch that movie based on that one line of dialogue alone.
2. Crocodile – 26 points
DANGER: 7 (1000 deaths per year, probably higher)
Crocodiles are just dinosaurs that have evolved and like to eat people. It’s been a while since we’ve had a proper crocodile-related movie and in my version of this script, a giant croc attacks and eats Crocodile Dundee in the early stages and Jason Statham (Dundee’s British son, obviously) comes in to exact his pound of leather. I would definitely watch this, no question. But, the big line has to go the opposite route of hippo/hippopotamus; “It’s a crocodile” is not even one-tenth as cool as, “It’s a croc.” Has to happen that way, I demand it.
1. Snake – 27 points
DANGER: 9 (50-100,000 deaths per year and also they are evil)
I genuinely, truly, think this is a good idea. Not like a, “this will be a good movie that transcends time” kind of good idea; I mean, this would definitely make a lot of money. The first Anaconda came out 21 years ago and they are STILL making sequels. You’re telling me you couldn’t make bank pitching Jason Statham against a giant snake in The ‘Conda? OF COURSE YOU COULD! I’m just giving away ideas at this point, I’m not saying anything more until you all sign the NDA.