We mix and match three great scifi heroes to evaluate how they would fare in other franchises. See Ellen Ripley as a diplomat, and Mad Max going far beyond Thunderdome.
One of the beauties of scifi stories is the way the hero often fits his or her role perfectly. A post-apocalyptic vision of the future gets its gruff, emotionally-devastated hero stalking through it, while a sweeping drama devoted to the glories of science can be populated entirely by PhDs who love to wax poetic about their findings. But what happens when we take the fish out of water? Let's consider how heroes would fare if they were transplanted.
Scenario One: Mad Max in Star Wars
For one thing, the slap fight between Han Solo and Max to see who got to be the most disaffected, amoral hero reluctantly drawn to the side of the angels, would be epic. Han would win, of course, because he had Chewie backing him up while Max only had that creepy blond kid from the second movie.
In fact, I don't see anything going Max's way in the Star Wars universe. For one thing, nothing goes Max's way in any universe. For another, Max's main talent seems to be just barely surviving disasters. While Han is, at least, a great pilot, Max doesn't have that many skills. Despite being the Road Warrior, he's not that great a driver. His go-to move is always smashing whatever he's driving into whatever the villain is driving and surviving because his name is in the title. I'm thinking he gets his throat crushed by Vader inside the first ten minutes.
On the other hand, Mad Max vs. The Ewoks would be a gory and fantastically entertaining film. I love those little guys, but I would pay to see Max go through them like a hot knife through butter.
Scenario Two: Ellen Ripley in Men in Black
I love Men in Black like I love those cuddly little Ewoks, but I know full well that I would love Ellen Ripley's complete destruction of everyone and everything in it even more. Not only that, but she would actually make the movie even funnier. The toughest and most essential thing for comedy characters to do is forget that they are in a comedy. As far as Ripley knows, she isn't in one.
While the movie was populated by winning and talented actors, there is no role in Men in Black that Ellen Ripley couldn't improve. Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Rip Torn, and even that weird woman who couldn't pronounce ‘sugar water'; they could all be replaced by Ripleys, and the movie would just keep getting better.
Okay, yes, considering the fact that in Men in Black, the earth was supposed to be a refuge for aliens who didn't have anywhere else to go, the end result would be pretty horrific. The scene in which the alien baby gets born would be tragically different with Ripley as the midwife. Overall though, it would be a pants-wettingly funny film and she'd beat Vincent D'Onofrio's character to death in the first half-hour. A few massacres would be totally worth it.
Scenario Three: Captain Kirk in Dollhouse
If you don't think this is a good idea, I say good day to you. Good day.
Captain Kirk is more than qualified to be Doll. For crying out loud, the man has already spent most of his adult life wearing pajamas! Add to that the stilted speaking and the fact that his skin appears to be plastic, and I'm not entirely convinced that Kirk wasn't a Doll designed to be the ultimate starship captain.
But how would he do in the Dollhouse? It would depend on the season. In season one, the Dolls' main goals were to hang on to their own personalities despite having different histories grafted on to them each week. In that season Kirk would do well. He has, as all of us know, a very distinctive personal style.
Season two has been all about using those different personalities like a library; slipping into each of them and allowing them to take over long enough to solve a problem. Here is where our boy might have a little bit of difficulty, as his main way of solving problems tends to be bedding alien women and picking fights with Klingons. (And anyone who has seen TJ Hooker knows that any crime-fighting personalities are a dead loss.)
No matter how well or badly James T would fare in the Dollhouse, there is one episode we would all watch. In season one, Echo is sent in to defend a singer who is being stalked. How is that made for Kirk? Because the singer can't suspect that she's being watched, Echo is guarding her while also performing as a background singer. With Eliza Dushku playing Echo, the episode was the one of the mediocre lead-ins that killed the series. If Shatner had played Echo, it would have been a television event that rivaled the moon landing. What an opportunity we missed.