Five Prerequisite Skills for Becoming a Pop Culture Assassin
By Jessica Men
Hollywood seems to have a fascination with the mysterious assassin, a character who obeys the command to kill over and over again without empathy. Most likely, and hopefully what endears us to this character-type is our complete inability to understand or relate to them. What horrific event in their life made them this way? Why in the world would they willingly take this merciless murdering job over, say, a merciless desk job in corporate America?
John Smith, the main character in KoldCast TV’s thriller series Hitman 101, is the perfect example of one of these intriguing enigmas. Each new Hitman 101 episode reveals more of John’s backstory, and a new piece of the plotline puzzle. As John hides, stalks, and kills his way through the streets (and charms a few women along the way), he displays skills that may seem familiar.
You are watching Episode 1 of Hitman 101, “Always The Hardest”
From movies to TV shows to comic books, and as different as they might seem, all of our favorite pop culture assassins seem to possess a similar set of killer talents.
Rocking the Trench Coat
Before they even make their first kill, TV and movie assassins have to set off the look, the tone, the foreboding nature of their character. That’s why no assassin is complete without the distinctive trench coat: the ultimate accessory from Assassins R’ Us, perfect for blending into the shadows or simply billowing menacingly at their sides. Everyone from the Mrs. in Mr. and Mrs. Smith to Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction subscribes to the popular fashion trend, but who wore it best? Our vote goes to Altair of the Assassin’s Creed video game, who even accessorizes his coat with armor, swords, and daggers for maximum intimidation.
Picking Through Locks with Various Objects
For the pop culture assassin, no door is off limits; no car inaccessible; no safe unbreakable. If some kind of assassin school exists out there, Lock Picking 101 seems to be the first prerequisite course on the list. Whether they’re on the run or on the prowl for a mark, assassins seem to come programmed with the knowledge for breaking and entering using whatever they have handy. No fancy gadget available in that black trench coat? No problem.
A true assassin can apparently succeed with a bobby pin, credit card, or random piece of wood lying on the ground. Tom Cruise did it in Mission Impossible 3. The award for most resourceful, however, must go to sociopath hitman Anton Chigurh from No Country For Old Men. Anton uses a pressurized oxygen tank to not only break into any house he wishes, but to murder his victims as well.
Taking on Multiple Henchmen at Once
Though several of our favorite pop culture assassins have partners in the same way John has Eva in Hitman 101, most of them work alone; all the better to perpetuate the brooding loner stereotype. The downside of working alone, however, is that the enemy often doesn’t. You know the scene all too well. A darkly lit alley, ominous music, then suddenly our hero senses something, turns, and is slowly surrounded by enemy agents.
Luckily, every pop culture assassin possesses the handy skill of escaping these sticky situations unarmed and unfairly matched. Interestingly, these gangs always seem to be pretty considerate, attacking one at a time. Take a look at Cowboy Bebop bounty hunter Spike Spiegel, who takes on a whole group of metal pipe-wielding thugs with his bare hands in this scene.
Showing No Emotion
It’s a good thing entertainment’s assassins don’t have time to gamble because their poker faces would render a lot of reprobates broke. From the big screen to video games, our favorite killers all seem to have mastered the art of complete stoicism. Evelyn gunning down 23 Russian spies in Salt? Didn’t bat a single mascara-laden eyelash. The Black Mamba slamming a table leg through her target’s head in Kill Bill? Not even a grimace as she watched the blood seep out that eyeball.
Witty Banter in the Face of Death
To go along with their lack of emotion, wit in inappropriate situations is another useful skill in the pop culture assassin’s handbook. Most people, when tied up and staring down the barrel of a gun, would probably blubber too hard to even get a word out, let alone manage to think of a quip to sass their captor. Assassins must spend all of their downtime rehearsing ways to sound cool while facing the cold hand of death. Check out the Black Widow in The Avengers here, getting the last condescending laugh, while still keeping her cool and perfectly coiffed hair.
Jessica Men is a floundering USC postgrad who lives in Los Angeles. She has BS degree in biology and a passion for writing.