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At E3 2014, I had a disturbing conversation with some…younger people about Val Kilmer. Some of the kids remembered him primarily for being a crap Batman in Batman Forever. A few of them knew him as “that funny guy in MacGruber.” Sadly, none of them were familiar with Val Kilmer in his prime. Going off of the photo below, it’s hard to believe that he was once one of the coolest people in Hollywood — especially for young kids and teenagers. Val Kilmer was the guy in movies that every kid wanted to be. Let’s use today’s Coffee Talk column to remember when Val Kilmer was cool.
Val Kilmer got the world’s attention in the 1984 spy parody Top Secret! As a huge fan of the Abrahams/Zucker/Zucker movies (Airplane! had a profound impact on my outlook in life), the star of Top Secret! was automatically cool to me. He was hilarious and charming in the movie — kind of like Han Solo with the sarcasm dialed up to 11. 1985’s Real Genius is one of my all-time favorite movies, with Val Kilmer playing the coolest smart person that ever lived. His performance in the movie inspired thousands of kids to become super-nerds and go to college. While Top Gun has aged poorly (watch the Honest Trailer below), one thing that hasn’t changed is that Iceman will always be cooler than Maverick. Millions of moviegoers know this to be true. Let’s wrap up Val Kilmer’s prime with 1988’s Willow, a criminally underrated movie. Has there ever been a fantasy movie protagonist that was cooler, funnier, and sharper than Val Kilmer’s Madmartigan?!? Madmartigan pisses on Aragorn!
From 1984 to 1988, there wasn’t anyone cooler than Val Kilmer. People that disagree with this are either too young to know, haven’t seen movies from this era, or have highly questionable taste. It was borderline painful to hear young E3 2014 attendees dismissing Val Kilmer as a crap Batman. While there’s no denying that he…wasn’t very good in Batman Forever, his work prior to that film already cemented his coolness.
Out of curiosity, what was your favorite Val Kilmer role? Please let me know in the comments section!