I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx

Steve Armstrong, the Greatest Hero of All Time: Arena


by Brian Correia
July 10, 2014

I defy you to name a better silver screen hero than“Stone Cold” Steve Armstrong1 as he appears in Arena. Give it a shot. Not easy, is it? That's because there is none. You might not think that the greatest screen hero of all time could be found beating up aliens in a direct-to-VHS release, but Armstrong's got it all. Don't believe me? The proof is in the pudding. Armstrong can go head-to-head with any other contenders and come out on top. To prove it, we've hired experts to compare Armstrong's strengths and weaknesses with those of the characters that we consider his closest competition in the following five key components of hero-hood:

  • Hard Body

  • Wise-Cracking Sidekick

  • Smoking Hot Girlfriend

  • Worthy Opponent

  • Style

Giving Armstrong's penchant for fighting and hanging out in far away galaxies, those characters are Rocky and Luke Skywalker. In this corner: Steve Armstrong. In the other corner:

Rocky

Weighing in at 190 pounds, Robert “Rocky” Balboa hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and has been twice named the Heavyweight Champion of the World.

  • Hard Body
    There's no question about it: thanks to a strict regimen of raw eggs, meat-boxing, and stair-running, Rocky is ripped. But not even Mickey's rigorous training program can produce pecs as glorious as Armstrong's. There's no contest. Even during his stint as a short order cook it was evident that Armstrong was born to fight.
    Advantage: Armstrong

  • Wise-Cracking Sidekick
    Rocky and Armstrong come out swinging in this category, both bringing loyal sidekicks to the table. Paulie, despite his reliably negative attitude and swift descent into alcoholism, almost always had Rocky's back. He let Rocky marry his sister and practice boxing on meat in his freezer. Shorty's no saint either, but with twenty-seven children back on planet Nebulon, he's a family man. Armstrong would never have stood a chance without Shorty's support and four-armed massages. Not to mention, our champ's sidekick really comes out on top in the wisecracks department. “I've only got four hands!”
    Advantage: Armstrong

  • Smoking Hot Girlfriend
    This one's a runaway. Adrian's nice and all, but Rocky, bro, you can't date your sidekick's sister. Why do you think he ended up being such a loser? Not to mention, Armstrong gets with not one but two lovely ladies in Arena, one of whom even ended up on Babylon 5. You won't see Adrian joining the crew of the Babylon 5. Her hair is too small.
    Advantage: Armstrong

  • Worthy Opponent
    Apollo Creed was surely one of the greatest boxers of all time, but Rocky forgave and befriended Creed after losing to him in the climactic fight of his own movie. Where's the heroism in that? Armstrong went up against the ghastly, evil Rogor against all odds and, for the first time in fifty years, successfully won The Arena championship for the humanoids. That's right, Armstrong won against all odds. Chant all you want, but Rocky lost.
    Advantage: Armstrong

  • Style
    Rocky didn't have shoulder pads. Enough said.
    Advantage: Armstrong

Luke Skywalker

Weighing in at probably something around 90 pounds, Luke Skywalker hails from Tatooine and is a Jedi Master who, a long time ago, helped overthrow the Galactic Empire.

  • Hard Body
    Skywalker may have a lot going for him, but there's no denying that his mind is a lot stronger than his farmboy bod. Armstrong's chiseled physique would not be contained by a humble Jedi robe; the Force is no match for the first.
    Advantage: Armstrong

  • Wise-Cracking Sidekick
    You've got to hand it to the Jedi, here, folks. He comes in strong with two sidekicks. C-3PO and R2-D2 are two of the most beloved movie sidekicks of all time. They're indelible pop culture icons (aren't you sick of them?). Join Team Shorty. His wisecracks are wiser, his mischief is more mischievous, and he has four hands. That's more hands than C-3PO and R2-D2 have combined.
    Advantage: Armstrong

  • Smoking Hot Girlfriend
    As far as smoking-hotness is concerned, the lovely Leia and luscious Quinn are neck and neck. In fact, Leia's metal bikini would probably give her the edge if not for the fact that she and Skywalker are [Spoiler Alert] actually twins! Gross, right? Gross.
    Advantage: Armstrong

  • Worthy Opponent
    Luke Skywalker must have some kind of weird Oedipal thing going on. Not only does he want to get with his sister, he wants to [Spoiler Alert] overthrow his father. What do you do when your father becomes depressed, seriously wounded, then miraculously gets to live on as some kind of mechanical human? Try to kill him? Really nice, Luke. Rogor is much more of your traditional villain. I like my evil straight up with no daddy issues. Thanks to Armstrong, he has fixed his last fight in The Arena.
    Advantage: Armstrong

  • Style
    I'm pretty sure Luke Skywalker didn't wear shoulder pads.
    Advantage: Armstrong

With that, it is unarguably proven that Steve Armstrong completely topples his silver screen competition. Now, go and see for yourself. Behold Peter Manoogian's 1991 direct-to-video B movie classic Arena. Marvel at forgotten beauty Claudia Christian, the cheap costumes, horrendous effects, and some of the most hilariously underwhelming fight scenes ever set to tape. Bask in the Christopher Reeve-ness of star Paul Satterfield. All hail Armstrong, champion of The Arena and the undisputed greatest action hero of all time.

1Not to be confused with professional wrestlers Steve Armstrong or “Stone Cold” Steve Austin

Brian Correia is a budding computer scientist and aspiring writer from Boston, Massachusetts who couldn't decide which hip-hop lyric to put in his byline. The top three, in no particular order, were as follows: “cooler than a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce,” “spiced out Calvin Coolidge loungin' with six duelers,” and “I got techniques drippin' out my buttcheeks.” He is on Twitter (@brianmcorreia) and Tumblr (brianmcorreia.tumblr.com) like the rest of the kids.