There’s an unwritten show business rule that, when followed, never fails: If you need a cheap laugh, just have animals talk or do anything inherently human. This tactic works especially well in commercials, selling tons of product for companies like Budweiser (remember those "Bud-wei-ser" frogs?), Taco Bell (“Yo quiero” a gimmicky Chihuahua?), and Geico (that suave gecko). The most vile form of this personification is America’s Funniest Home Videos, where a human jackass gives voice to unfortunate critters as they run into glass doors and fall out of trees. While we appreciate stupid pet tricks and bamboozlement as much as the next Animal Planet viewer, we enjoy the flipside—cool, empowered, and even intimidating animals—better.
Over the years, Hollywood has given several animals the chance to strike back against those who like seeing them run into walls. Whether it’s in the form of a When Animals Attack!-styled horror flick or something cuter yet still defiant, our non-human counterparts have had plenty of chances to intimidate. This weekend, we’ll meet the latest H.A.I.C. (Head Animal In Charge): Rango, a law-enforcing chameleon speaking with Johnny Depp’s voice and headlining one of our most anticipated family films of the year. Patterned as a kid-friendly western, Rango’s entire cast is made up of tough critters, including an iguana (Isla Fisher), an armadillo (Alfred Molina), and a rattlesnake (Bill Nighy). As our excitement for Depp’s new kid flick increases, we’ve corralled together a list of the 15 Most Badass Animals in Movies. These aren’t your little sister’s gerbils.