Two Army pop-culture stalwarts are about to exit our search for the greatest on-screen fictional military character ever, unless late voters say otherwise.
Both John Rambo and Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce are on the losing ends of close quarterfinal-round matchups that lead off the last full week of Battle Bracket: Clash of Characters. Voting for the round of eight will conclude Wednesday at 3 p.m. Eastern. Here's a peak at the regional-final vote totals as of late Monday morning:
Rambo's reckoning?: Sylvester Stallone's Rambo may have grossed nearly $730 million in worldwide box office over four films, but that take hasn't translated into votes this time around — he's under 47 percent in his Action Heroes regional final against Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson). "The Patriot" was the fifth-highest grossing R-rated film in 2000, per BoxOfficeMojo.com, edging out the Jim Carrey classic "Me, Myself and Irene."
Empire vs. Emmys: Lord Darth Vader may add another TV icon to his kill list — after downing NCIS agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs in the round of 16, the man in black has a slim lead (53.23 percent to 46.77 percent) over "Hawkeye" Pierce this time out. Despite the galaxies that separate the two characters, they are creatures of a common timeline — the "MASH" TV finale, which averaged more than 105 million viewers, aired on Feb. 28, 1983, and "Return of the Jedi," the final chapter in the original "Star Wars" trilogy, hit theaters less than three months later.
Capt. John Miller may lack the immediate name recognition of his fellow quarterfinalists, but Tom Hanks' performance in "Saving Private Ryan" remains a clear audience favorite. Miller has racked up nearly 72 percent of the vote against Col. Nathan Jessep (Jack Nicholson, "A Few Good Men") and is on pace to clash with Darth Vader in a semifinal nobody would've predicted — like South Carolina vs. Gonzaga, but with rifles and light sabers.
Remember, polls close Wednesday; when you're done voting, use the hashtag #BattleBracket on social media to campaign for your favorite. Semifinal-round action will start Wednesday afternoon and end Friday, when the championship contest begins.
Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.