Leeroy Jenkins and Deadpool: The Meme Effect

"Leeeeeeeroyy Jeeeeeeeennkins!"

We’ve all seen it. A group of highly motivated World of Warcraft players are gathered in a group discussing tactics, crunching numbers and readying-up for a big encounter. Leeroy returns and, ignorant to the meticulous planning of his team, ironically named [Pals for Life], charges head first into the perils that await. His team scramble to his defence but alas, are too late. The plan is ruined and they are slaughtered.

Totting up an impressive 44 million views on the original video alone the Leeroy Jenkins moment has since traversed the interwebs and become a common household meme. But what of the legacy of Leeroy’s spine-chilling battle cry?

How many times have we seen a character let the moment get the better of them? In Issue #36 of Marvel’s ‘Deadpool’ he charges headlong into a slew of inevitably dim-witted adversaries screaming “Leeroy Jenkins” in homage and completely in character. It’s no secret that Deadpool promises to bring some largely inapporpriate antics to the big screen come February 2016, with every intention of breaking the fourth wall, so will we get a chance to see this moment in the cinema?

I for one would love to see Ryan Reynolds instil some relative discomfort within his inadequate foes with a discernable “Leeroy” battle cry right before breaking their sorry legs. From the trailer we’ve been given and all the information to boot I see no reason why the world famous WoW moment shouldn’t eek it’s way into Hollywood. But we’ll have to wait and see.

Now, I’m not going to go around preaching that Ben Schulz (Leeroy Jenkins) created the ‘Leeroy Jenkins’ trope, but since the video went viral it has given a name to an otherwise fairly common character convention in film.

Here are four cinematic moments that shine a light on the Leeroy Jenkins moment in all its memic glory.

Pixar Animation Studios

1 SullyMonsters University
If there’s one thing that Hollywood does well, it’s informing the rest of the world on traditional North American college antics, true or not. We see it in Animal House, Old School and 22 Jump Street to name a few. But in true Pixar fashion a twist is applied for the sequel to Monsters Inc.Monsters University.

Oozma Kappa, the stereotypical nerd fraternity of American College have entered the Scare Games so that Mike and Sully can re-enroll in the Scare Programme. The challenge? To capture your house flag from under the nose of the campus librarian. Mike’s approach is slow and steady, creeping across the library floor. Meanwhile Sully is growing ever impatient at the back of group and fears their team may come last, in effect kicking them out of the Scare Games. Throwing caution to the wind Sully makes a run for the ladder only to attract the attention of the librarian. His team save him eventually but like Leeroy his lesson was learned. Chicken or no chicken.

New Line Cinema

2 Merry and PippinThe Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King or TLOTR:TROTK (for short)
Okay, it may well be Aragorn that leads the charge but Merry and Pippin have a greater effect. After surviving pretty much everything Middle Earth has to throw at them including but not limited to: navigating their way through Moria, witnessing Gandalf’s death, taken hostage by a pack of maruading Uruk Hai, destroying Isengard on the shoulders of a vengeful forest, being split up in Rohan, and defending Minas Tirith against the menacing droves of Mordor Orcs, evil men and thunderous Olyphants, you can understand the desire of Merry and Pippin to put one over on their enemies.

Largely outnumbered and dependent on Frodo and Sam to destroy the ring before the loyal band of men, dwarves, elves, wizards and hobbits are slain at the hand of Sauron’s last defence, Merry and Pippin pluck up all the courage a Hobbit can muster and charge headlong into Mordor’s violent ranks.

Marvel Studios

3 Iron ManThe Avengers
I hate Iron Man. I find Robert Downey Jr. grating and his arrogance spits in the face of Tony Stark’s genius but he makes the list for that exact reason. Thor throws Loki from the gunship and Captain America puts on his thinking, *uh-hum* cap and announces “We need a plan of attack.” Iron Man simply replies “I have a plan…attack.” Launching himself into the stormy skies Tony Stark heads off once again to save the world and take all the credit whilst simultaneously giving his ego a pat on the back and throttling his acute anxiety issues.

Marvel Studios

4 GrootGuardians of the Galaxy
Rocket kicks his ‘rodent’ street smarts up a gear in this one as he comes up with an elaborate plan to escape from the Kyln. His only mistake, taking his eye off Groot. For the majority of the film Groot comes across as a largely one-dimensional character, not least of all because he is a tree who is only capable of saying “I am Groot”. But as we learn later in the film this humanoid tree has impeccable comic timing and a heart of gold. Not quite a headlong charge into certain death but the chaos that ensues as a result of Groot’s good-natured ‘act first, ask questions later’ attitude is reminiscent of the strife faced by Leeroy’s band of loyal cohorts, without all the death and fatalism of course.

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Now, all of these moments have a happy ending. The Guardians become, well, the Guardians. The Avengers save the day, Sully and Mike work out their differences and become the greatest scare partnership to work at Monsters Inc. and Frodo and Sam destroy the ring before Merry and Pippin are trampled by the scorn of men on that fateful day in Mordor.

However, a ‘Leeroy’ that fits the the bill, i.e. ignoring the plan, going it alone and feeling the bite of cold steel turns up in the unlikeliest of places. The Bourne Ultimatum.

Universal Pictures

The Bourne franchise features Matt Damon as super-spy/assassin suffering from amnesia, retracing his past and bringing those responsible for turning him into a badass to justice. By all accounts it doesn’t actually sound all that life-threatening until they attempt to hunt you down for a crime you are framed for. Once it reaches this level of ‘shit-hitting-the-fan’ you know that anyone in connection with Bourne is going to wind up breathing through a straw, or worse.

Poor old Simon Ross, the fictional Guardian reporter found this out the hard way in his own ‘Leeroy’ moment. Advised to stay hidden in a tense Waterloo station foot chase Bourne attempts to get Ross out of there and question him on Blackbriar. With a quick reality check in place Bourne leaves to assess the situation, advising Ross to stay put. But wait, something’s wrong. A brief pause and, shots fired, man down. No chicken for Simon. A ‘Leeroy’ if ever I saw one.

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For Deadpool‘s promise of comic-timing, outlandish humour and ironic action scenes one can only hope that “Leeroy Jenkins” is re-fashioned for the big screen come February 2016. If it does feature then I’ll be the first to say “I told you so” believe you me.

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