If you’re a nerd, and you think of Captains, you immediately think of Kirk, or Picard, or maybe even the immortal Zapp Brannigan. But there’s a different class of captains for nerds to love, captains that have little to do with piloting a starship through the Kessel Run or the Neutral Zone, and it’s time to give them their due. Here are 10 of our favorite non-starship captains from throughout the world of geekdom.
Super Soldier, American Hero and General Badass
Obviously we have to talk about Captain America. He’s been around for seven decades now, kicking ass in the name of the land of the free and the home of the brave (because, you know, somebody’s got to). He’s died at least twice, been a part of numerous superhero teams and even lost his faithful companion Bucky in the chaos of war, but that’s never stopped him and his trusty shield from punching Hitler in the face.
Captain Jack Harkness
Time Traveler, Con Man and Pansexual Loverboy
How can you not love Jack Harkness? He’s immortal, he’s smooth, he has an awesome coat and he fights evil in two different TV shows. Plus, he’ll get freaky with just about anything, from Time Lords to plain old humans. We can only hope that we’ll see him in more Torchwood seasons, but even if the show dies, Captain Jack never will.
Captain-General and Warden of the White Tower, Heir to the Stewardship of Gondor and Fallen Member of the Fellowship of the Ring
Any time Sean Bean picks up a sword and marches his goatee out for another film it’s cause for celebration, but Boromir is actually more than just Bean kicking orc ass. As The Lord of the Rings progresses, you begin to see that even though he doesn’t last long, the Fellowship, the quest to destroy the One Ring and event the men in the East couldn’t have held out as long as they did without Boromir. Aragorn may have been the king that returned, but Boromir was the field captain that held it together and stood up in the face of crisis.
Boy in a Superhero’s Body (but not in a creepy way)
There was a time when Captain Marvel was more popular even than Superman, but a host of legal troubles and publisher changes pushed him into the realm of obscurity. He’s still around now, but it seems like he might never be what he once was in the eyes of comic book readers. Even so, he’s an indispensable part of the DC universe, a character that represents a kind of wish fulfillment for young readers everywhere. Say the magic word and you turn into a superhero. Who wouldn’t want that?
Leader of the Soldiers of the Future, Obscure ’80s-tastic TV Character, Codpiece Wearer
It’s time to play “Who Remembers This Show?”. Captain Power (that was supposedly his real name) led a group of humans who wore “power suits” to take back the earth from the machines that had taken over. It was made in the ’80s, it was super corny, and…well, just look at those costumes. Was it just a cheap attempt to score points on the back of the Terminator franchise? Probably, but there’s always a special place in the hearts of nerds for cornball sci-fi television.
Britain’s Answer to Captain America, Saver of Queens, Wearer of Knickers, Kicker of Bums (That’s British for “Ass,” Kids)
He might seem like a basic knock-off of Captain America, but Captain Britain really is an intriguing character all his own. Created by Marvel Comics legend Chris Claremont (who wrote X-Men for approximately 700 years), his origin is thoroughly and charmingly English: he was minding his own business when his parents died and Merlyn offered him a chance to be a superhero. He went on to join the British superhero team Excalibur and defend Europe from various superhuman threats, and he even ended up getting an invite to join The Avengers from Cap himself.
Incorruptible Gotham City Cop, Ally of Batman, Mustache Enthusiast
Jim Gordon is largely known as Gotham City’s unflappable Police Commissioner, but several writers have depicted him with lower ranks in an attempt to let him get his hands dirty alongside the Batman. In Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s seminal Batman series The Long Halloween, Gordon is a Captain doing battle in the streets against the Falcone crime family alongside Batman and District Attorney Harvey Dent. Gordon got a promotion (and we all know what happened to Dent), but seeing him as a Captain reinforces his commitment to justice and the battle against crime (and not in a corny way, either).
Blue Guy, Elemental Superhero, Kicker of Polluter Ass
Yeah, his powers were never clearly defined, he was always a deus ex machina and he could only show up if a bunch of kids put some rings together, but admit it: you watched the show, you knew the theme song, and you still catch yourself claiming you’re gonna take pollution down to zero.
Member of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Captain of the Nautilus, Anti-Imperialist Indian Badass
Captain Nemo was gruff, and he wasn’t wild about Britain, but he was still among the more awesome members of Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. He had a sword, an awesome super submarine, and he was a pretty snappy dresser.
Once and Future Captain of the Black Pearl, Former Zombie, Member of the Brethren Court, Fan of Monkeys and Apples
Even as the Pirates of the Caribbean films began a predicable decline in quality, Geoffrey Rush’s wild-eyed Hector Barbossa remained a constant source of entertainment. Rush is one of the greatest actors alive (no joke), and his willingness to ham it up as a crusty lunatic pirate only confirms his talent and enthusiasm. Captain Jack Sparrow is the fan favorite, but Barbossa piloted a ship in a massive whirlpool while fighting the mythical Flying Dutchman, performing a wedding and dueling at the same time, all while laughing maniacally. You want to make more sequels? Give him his own movie.