Can You Match the Military Movie Hero to His Rank?


By: Olivia Cantor

7 Min Quiz

Image: LifeJourneys / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Hollywood is big on heroes, and Tinseltown's finest identifies many kinds of heroic roles on their respective filmographies. That includes being a military hero, at least once or maybe twice, in their careers.

The movie industry is very fond of exploring the narratives of military exploits in a given time frame. Whether the military involvement is from the distant past or whether it takes place in recent times, there is always a great tale to tell from these scenarios. For what brings greater dramatic conflict than a person fighting another person, for the sake of another person, the company, or the country. And of course, that fight will be cheered or jeered by the audience, depending on where their leanings are, of course.

But it's undeniable that our favorite Hollywood actors love portraying characters that are right smack in the middle of such conflicts. Attach a legendary director to the film and they'll don any uniform to get a chance at a good opportunity and role. 

So, for this fun quiz, we picked out a few of these memorable military heroes played by great thespians. Can you name the ranks that their characters held? If you're a true movie buff, this drill will be easy, soldier! 

At ease, and take this fun quiz, now!


What’s the rank of this titular Marvel hero?

The 1940s soldier Steve Rogers gets transformed into Captain America in the popular Marvel Comics stories, as well as in the movies. Chris Evans is most recognizable now for playing this Marvel character, who also participates in "The Avengers" movies.


What rank did Matt Damon’s character play in this WWII story?

"Saving Private Ryan" is all about how a special group of soldiers was tasked to retrieve the very last Ryan sibling participating in the war, as three of his brothers were already killed in action. This interesting World War II Spielberg film actually starred Tom Hanks in the lead.


Jack Nicholson played this terrifying Marine leader. What’s his rank?

"A Few Good Men" is the 1992 film written by Aaron Sorkin, which has compelling dialogue that made Jack Nicholson's performance unforgettable. He played Colonel Nathan Jessup, the U.S. Marine put on trial for allegedly ordering a subordinate to be killed by his peers.


He loved the smell of napalm in the morning! What’s his rank?

Robert Duvall played Lieutenant Colonel William "Bill" Kilgore in Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 opus "Apocalypse Now." Kilgore's character delivers that epic quote of "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" which basically characterizes how the horrors of war could affect people in a general way, as the concept of the mundane gets colored in more terrifying ways.


As "G.I. Jane," Demi Moore’s character held which rank?

"G.I. Jane" was an action vehicle for Demi Moore back in 1997, as her character underwent dramatic changes for special warfare training. Her character's name is Lieutenant Jordan O'Neil, and one of the most talked about scenes here is when her real hair was buzzed off completely.


The legendary leader, Patton, held which rank?

"Patton" was the 1970 biopic co-written by Francis Ford Coppola, which starred George C. Scott as the real-life World War II persona, General George S. Patton. It was a Best Picture winner at the Academy Awards, also the Best Original Screenplay award, and director Franklin Schaffner also won for Best Director.


Kevin Costner’s Civil War “dancer” held which rank?

"Dances with Wolves" was Kevin Costner's 1990 opus which depicted a Union soldier getting sympathetic with the Native American Indians that he encountered on his post. Prior to "turning Injun" as his other co-soldiers termed, he was known as Lieutenant John J. Dunbar before being given the name Dances With Wolves.


Forrest Gump held his Vietnam War boss in high regard. What’s his superior’s rank?

Gary Sinise played Lieutenant Dan Taylor in the 1994 CGI whiz of a film called "Forrest Gump," where he played Forrest's army leader in the Vietnam War. Director Robert Zemeckis went to great lengths in making audiences believe that Lt. Dan lost his legs, and appeared as an amputee for a good part of his exposure.


Brad Pitt’s unforgettable character held which rank in this movie?

The ingenious Quentin Tarantino gave us the insubordinate film called "Inglourious Basterds" back in 2009. Brad Pitt headed the star-studded cast, playing the role of First Lieutenant Aldo Raine, also known as "The Apache."


In this film, he was credited as R. Lee Emery, who held which rank as a Basic Training officer?

"Full Metal Jacket" is the great director Stanley Kubrick's take on a war film, which turned out as more artistic than war-like -- which fans and critics liked. One of the most memorable characters here is Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, the drill instructor during basic training, played by Ronald Lee Ermey, who actually had real-life drill instructor duties during his stint with the U.S. Marine Corps.


Bradley Cooper portrayed this real-life soldier in this film. What was his rank?

"American Sniper" was the 2015 film directed by Clint Eastwood, a biopic of the late Chief Petty Officer Christopher Scott Kyle. The film showed his exploits as a great sniper during his many duties in the Iraq War, as well as the PTSD he suffered after.


Which "Platoon" officer character is this, who scares Charlie Sheen's rookie character Chris Taylor?

"Platoon" was Oliver Stone's great 1986 war film that's actually anti-war, due to the sentiments floated in the film, through its morally conflicted characters and the morally ambivalent war scenarios they faced. One of the most memorable characters here is Staff Sergeant Bob Barnes, played by Tom Berenger, who clashes with another sergeant in their platoon, Sgt. Elias, played by Willem Dafoe.


In "The Bridge on the River Kwai," which British officer rank is this guy holding", who refused to abide by the enemy's rules?

"The Bridge on the River Kwai" was about a group of POWs incarcerated in an Asian enemy camp, and Alec Guinness played the character of Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson brilliantly in this 1957 film by David Lean. The World War II story started with Nicholson insisting that, as a British officer, he is exempted to do manual labor in POW camps according to the Geneva Convention, but of course his Japanese Imperial Army enemies think otherwise.


Steve McQueen holds which rank in this thrilling war film, which was inspired by true-to-life events?

Steve McQueen headlines "The Great Escape," the 1963 epic where he played Captain Virgil Hilts. Known as the "Cooler King" in the German POW camp, he becomes part of a grand escape scheme that's really suspenseful to watch!


Best Picture winner "The Hurt Locker" had this brave soldier in the lead, but can you guess his rank?

Kathryn Bigelow became the first female director to win the Academy Award for Best Directing due to "The Hurt Locker." The 2008 war film stars Jeremy Renner in the role of Sergeant First Class William James, on duty during the Iraq War.


Denzel Washington's character had which rank in this monumental Civil War film?

Denzel Washington played Private Silas Tripp in the 1989 film "Glory," where he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The film told the narratives of the all-Black units of the Union Army that fought in the Civil War.


Tom Cruise played real war vet Ron Kovic here. What was the vet’s rank?

"Born on the Fourth of July" was the 1989 biopic of U.S. Marine Corps soldier turned anti-war veteran, Private First Class Ron Kovic. Real-life war veteran turned Hollywood writer-director Oliver Stone helmed this one.


Marlon Brando’s military character went rogue in this film. What was the leader’s rank?

"Apocalypse Now" featured Marlon Brando in a brief but pivotal role, playing Colonel Walter Kurtz who went AWOL from the U.S. Army and turned into a sort of scary enigmatic figure hiding out in Cambodia. Martin Sheen's character, Captain Benjamin Willard, was tasked to find Kurtz -- and assassinate him.


Meg Ryan plays a soldier here, against her usual acting grain. What was her character's rank?

"Courage Under Fire" featured Meg Ryan as Captain Karen Emma Walden, a character who appears only in the flashback retelling portions of the narrative, as the story revolves around an investigation of a past occurrence during the Gulf War. Denzel Washington co-stars, playing the role of the officer tasked to investigate the captain's achievements and last duty.


Andrew Garfield played this real-life conscientious objector with what rank?

"Hacksaw Ridge" was the 2016 biopic featuring Corporal Desmond Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist Christian who served in World War II but refused to carry weapons, much less fire them on people. Andrew Garfield played him, under the direction of returning actor-director Mel Gibson.


The dashing Gary Cooper played this titular character York, who held which rank during WWI?

Gary Cooper appeared as Sergeant Alvin York in the 1941 film directed by Howard Hawks. The film's title was "Sergeant York," which narrated the life of a farmer turned soldier during World War I, earning Gary Cooper an Academy Award for Best Actor.


Denise Richards' fighting character held which rank in this sci-fi film?

"Starship Troopers" is the futuristic sci-fi military story based on a novel by acclaimed sci-fi writer Robert A. Heinlein. Denise Richards played Capt. Carmen Ibanez here, who showed that women can also fight with men in any kind of battle situation.


Kate Beckinsale’s nurse character here actually had a rank. What was it?

"Pearl Harbor" is Michael Bay's 2001 grand epic film about the eponymous bombing incident that pushed the USA to join World War II. It was also the love story of two soldiers in love with one woman, Lieutenant Evelyn Johnson, played by Kate Beckinsale.


John Wayne’s character in "Fort Apache" had what rank?

"Fort Apache" was the 1948 western directed by John Ford, featuring John Wayne as Capt. Kirby York. The Duke's co-stars in this film were fellow Hollywood legends, namely Henry Fonda, and a grown-up Shirley Temple.


When not kissing someone else's wife on the beach, this soldier played by Burt Lancaster was performing the duties of this rank. Which was it?

"From Here to Eternity's" super-famous opening scene at the beach features the character of Sergeant Milton Warden, played by Burt Lancaster, kissing Deborah Kerr's character named Karen. The adulterous kiss was very forward and risqué for its time, especially since this film was released in 1953.


Rihanna’s first movie role was a soldier with what ranking?

"Battleship," the 2012 flop, saw singer Rihanna act as Petty Officer 2nd Class Cora "Weps" Raikes. Her character was part of the U.S. Navy ships that had to fight some alien ships, under the direction of Peter Berg.


Robert de Niro's soldier character in "The Deer Hunter" held which rank?

De Niro played Staff Sergeant Michael "Mike" Vronsky in the award-winning 1978 film "The Deer Hunter," winner of the Best Director and Best Picture awards at the Oscars. He co-starred with John Cage and Christopher Walken here, playing the role of Russian-American blue collar workers who were drafted to fight in the Vietnam War.


Arnie's soldier dad role in "Commando" held which rank?

The 1985 action-packed film "Commando" finds Arnold Schwarzenegger playing United States Special Forces Colonel John Matrix, who was coerced to do something against his will, because the bad guys kidnapped his daughter. That daughter, by the way, was played by a very young Alyssa Milano.


George Clooney directed himself while starring in "The Monuments Men," but what was his character's rank?

"The Monuments Men" is an interesting World War II-set film about a group of soldiers whose aim was to recover or find lost art works looted and taken by the Nazis. George Clooney heads this team as Lieutenant Frank Stokes, and Clooney's real-life father played the same character in his old age in the ending of the film.


Michelle Rodriguez’ character in "Battle: Los Angeles" had a military rank. What was it?

"Battle: Los Angeles" finds Michelle Rodriguez shooting robotic alien enemies in the role of Technical Sgt. Elena Santos. Her character is part of the U.S. Air Force, who met up with other soldiers fighting the same enemies in Los Angeles in this 2011 action film.


Actor-director Kenneth Branagh's "Dunkirk" character holds which officer rank?

Kenneth Branagh played Royal Navy Commander Bolton in the 2017 Christopher Nolan film "Dunkirk." The World War II-set film was an artistic project for director Nolan, which featured an all-star cast of veterans and young ones, such as One Direction's Harry Styles, and "Mad Max: Fury Road's" Tom Hardy.


Bruce Willis' soldier rescuer role here held which rank?

"Tears of the Sun" had Bruce Willis play Lieutenant A.K. Waters, tasked to rescue an American doctor working in Nigeria, where a civil war was happening. The 2003 film co-starred the beautiful Italian actress Monica Bellucci in the role of the good-natured doctor.


In "Jarhead," what was the rank of the U.S. Marine protagonist?

The 2005 film "Jarhead" was a biopic the featured the life of Corporal Anthony Swofford, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Sam Mendes directed this war film about the life of Swofford as he underwent several situations during his duty in the Persian Gulf War.


Tom Cruise played a Nazi in "Valkyrie," holding which rank?

Bryan Singer directed the 2008 film "Valkyrie," about a true-to-life event during World War II. Tom Cruise essayed the role of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, a German officer who collaborated with fellow officers in an attempt to assassinate their Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler.


In "M*A*S*H," Tom Skerritt's character held which rank, which the other leads also held?

"M*A*S*H" was a successful black comedy film directed by premiere filmmaker Robert Altman which focused on the lives of army doctors. Tom Skerritt played Capt. Augustus Bedford "Duke" Forrest, while co-stars Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould played "Hawkeye" and "Trapper John," respectively, who were also captains.


Michael Douglas plays a spy with what rank in "Shining Through?"

"Shining Through" is a 1992 film where Melanie Griffith played the role of an untrained spy in Nazi Germany during World War II. She works with her boss-turned-lover, Colonel Ed Leland, played by Michael Douglas, who is the actual spy she's trying to help for his work in the U.S. Office of Strategic Services.


In "Schindler's List," Ralph Fiennes played an Austrian Nazi soldier with what rank?

Ralph Fiennes played Amon Göth who technically held the title of SS-Hauptsturmführer, and the American equivalent of this is that of a captain. This real-life captain was actually the commandant of a Polish concentration camp during World War II, and was found guilty of war crimes and was also executed eventually.


Angelina Jolie’s character here held which rank?

Angelina Jolie played Commander Francesca “Franky” Cook in the 2004 sci-fi film "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow." It was actually a small role, but still pivotal, given the stature of this actress, especially after the success of her Lara Croft movies during this time.


Goldie Hawn made us laugh in this one. What was her titular character's rank?

"Private Benjamin" starred the funny Goldie Hawn as Private Judy Benjamin, a rich girl who joins the army, which gives us a "fish out of water" trope of laughs. The highly successful film even spawned a TV series.


Helen Mirren takes the lead in this 2015 thriller. What rank did her character hold?

"Eye in the Sky" is the 2015 film about drone warfare, with Helen Mirren in the lead, supported by Alan Rickman. She played Colonel Katherine Powell, an officer who was part of the British military intelligence.


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