That’s It, It’s Time for a Vin Diesel–The Rock Showdown
Vin Diesel. The Rock. For more than a decade now, these two plausibility-straining mesomorphs have been cutting mirroring paths through the entertainment industry. Their lines aren’t parallel, dancing as they do toward each other in recent Fast and Furious movies, but each has forged—well, hacked—a path to stardom through spectacle.
When Pitch Black came out in 2000, who among us would have predicted that 15 years later we’d describe something as “the new Vin Diesel movie” and not feel sad about it? And yet, here we are staring down the barrel of The Last Witch Hunter with nary a regret. (Never forget that a sub-20% Rotten Tomato score means precisely squat when that shit is fun.) Meanwhile, Dwayne Johnson managed to do what Hulk Hogan and John Cena have only dreamed of: go from pro wrestling to a legitimately successful movie career. Movies like The Rundown, Walking Tall, Gridiron Gang, and The Game Plan weren’t blockbusters, but he just kept showing up—and eventually transformed into, as he put it during a Saturday Night Live monologue last season, “franchise Viagra.”
So here we are in 2015. Two giant dudes have managed to turn themselves into giant stars. But which one is giant-er? It feels unfair to judge on literal mass, given The Rock’s insane daily caloric intake, so instead we devised a showdown—a 12-round heavyweight slugfest. In one corner, the fast-driving Furyan that is Vin Diesel; in the other, a #silverbackgorilla who was born a man but became a Rock. Each round will be determined by a super-logical 10-point scoring scale, except when we decide someone deserves more than 10 points in a round. Then we’ll just give them more.
So now, ladies and gentlemen… Let’s get ready to ruuuummmbllllllleeeee!
Round 1: Franchise Track Record
Rock: Rock has a reputation for waltzing into a sequel after a movie has already laid down some franchise foundation work, then breathing new life into them. See: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Fast Five. It’s worked out pretty well, considering G.I. Joe 3 is in development, Journey 3 has been announced (while 4 is rumored), and his appearance coincided with Fast’s commercial renaissance.
Diesel: Diesel, on the other hand, is known for starting franchises, see: the Riddick trilogy, The Fast and the Furious, xXx (which Diesel will be resurrecting in The Return of Xander Cage), and even being on the ground floor of Guardians of the Galaxy.
Winner: Ten points to Diesel for carrying three original franchises and being the most endearing part of the most endearing Marvel movie. Eight to The Rock for the whole franchise-Viagra. (Though, FWIW, we would’ve gone with “sequel Cialis.”)
Round 2: Non-Fast Fight Scene
Rock: Almost every movie involving Johnson revolves around (at least) one marquee fight scene. But if you want his best work outside of the Hobbs vs. Toretto showdown in Fast Five, check out the jungle brawl-for-all against a horde of tiny Brazilian MMA fighters in The Rundown. (Honorable mention goes to he and Ray Stevenson trying to shoot-punch each other to death in G.I. Joe: Retaliation.)
Diesel: Diesel does a lot of stunt scenes, but surprisingly little hand-to-hand combat—as evidenced by the fact that his best onscreen adversary is Gary the duck from The Pacifier. (Gary is 1-0 lifetime against the Big Diesel, FYI.)
Winner: Ten points to The Rock for being a one-man death squad. Seven to Diesel for having the good sense not to step to Gary.
Round 3: Box-Office Average
Winner: Both men have generated just over $2.1 billion at the box office, but a slightly more selective resume boosts Diesel’s average for the win and the 10 points. The Rock gets nine, though, for hovering around the $100 million mark.
Round 4: Best Hair
Rock: The Rock has an almost unsettling tonsorial versatility. From 5 o’clock shadow to a goatee to the grown-out natural in Be Cool, everything looks like he was born to wear it. (Even if that natural was a wig.)
Diesel: Besides that one time in Find Me Guilty, the most hair we ever see on Diesel is the slightest layer of grow-in on his forever clean shaven head.
Winner: Ten to Diesel for knowing his strengths. Ten to Dwayne for being a real-life Buzz Lightyear.
Round 5: Dancing GIFs
Rock: A minimalist, yet strong performance of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” on Lip Sync Battle.
Diesel: A real live B-boy in his youth.
Winner: Ten to Vin-D for the floorwork, but Rock doesn’t come away empty handed; his quality shoulder work gets him a +8.
Round 6: Pre-Fame Life
Rock: Considering The Rock still wrestles from time to time, so we can’t say his ring work is a past life, but he was a defensive tackle on the University of Miami’s football team.
Diesel: Like we said: breakdancing!
Winner: Ten for Diesel. The Rock gets seven prestige points for a notable athletic career, but winning a Div-I national football title still can’t match up with that B-boy stance.
Round 7: Worst Movie
Rock: The overwrought satire Southland Tales, in which he plays an amnesiac action star having an existential crisis and Sarah Michelle Gellar plays a psychic ex-porn star trying to launch an anti-establishment reality TV show. Oh, and it might be the end of the world. So….yeah.
Diesel: The Personal Razzie goes to Babylon A.D. ; Diesel plays a mercenary turned courier in charge of smuggling a young woman and a nun across the globe. One critic’s review instructed audiences to “Skip it aggressively.” [Italics ours]
Winner: Diesel loses by winning and takes a five-point penalty. (Southland was even worse than Babylon, but actually reaches the threshold of being so bad we don’t want to add insult to injury.)
Round 8: Ass-Kicking Female Co-Star
Rock: Michelle Rodriguez
Diesel: Michelle Rodriguez
Winner: Michelle Rodriguez +100. What, you’re gonna tell her she can only have 10?
Round 9: Acting Alongside Karl Urban
Rock: One of his earliest roles was as Sarge in the 2005 movie Doom, which ended with The Rock squaring off against Karl Urban’s character, Reaper, in a major fight scene. (Reaper ended up winning, even after Sarge turned into a heinous evil mutant.)
Diesel: Urban was the villain to Diesel’s hero in The Chronicles of Riddick.
Winner: Considering Diesel bested Urban, who in turn bested Dwayne Johnson, the 10 points go to Vin. (Seven-point mutation bonus for The Rock, though.)
Round 10: Pre-Fame Photo
Rock: The fannypack is strong with this one.
Diesel: Excellent shirt choreography.
Winner: The Rock, but just barely, gets the 10. Eight to Diesel for aggressive zestiness.
Round 11: Inspirational Instagram Account
Took me a bit to understand the ideology, but I’ve learned thru experience over the years, that when we place a tremendous amount of respect on our goals, we inevitably are willing to work that much harder to accomplish them. #RespectYourGoals #BeTheHardestWorkerInTheRoom #CussingAndSmilesAreMandatory
Believe in yourself… #makeithappenMondays A photo posted by Vin Diesel (@vindiesel) on
Rock: Pro-level (and incomprehensible) hashtagging.
Diesel: Big cats.
Winner: The Rock snares a cool 20 for being a fountain of motivational/inspirational/instructional advice on the Gram, but Diesel still gets 10 for shutting down his “dad bod” haters and his love of #HappyCreative. Whatever that means.
Round 12: Were You In A Brett Ratner Movie?
Winner: Diesel +10, Rock -10. The Ratner deduction is real.
And Winner Is…
Winner: Sorry, Dwayne, but Vin takes this one. Until the next time, let’s just watch The Rock and The Diesel fight it out in an Argentinian chop shop, as God intended.
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