Santa Claus has survived for 400 years -- or longer, if he is the same Greek Saint Nicholas from the 4th century -- through harsh Arctic climates, constantly changing geopolitical landscapes, increasingly invasive technology and booing Philadelphia Eagles fans.
Plus, let's face it, when it comes to sliding down chimneys in the middle of the night into strange homes, a fire waiting below is really the least of Santa's worries. Risk is somewhat expected for the world's most famous home invader whose visitation schedule is well publicized; in addition to being a fat moving target in bright red, Santa never knows when some nutjob has been good all year just so they can set out a batch of arsenic cookies with a glass of strychnine milk.
Thankfully, we already know Santa has achieved immortality, and mastered time and space - as well as tamed wild reindeer, commanded an army of mythical elves and managed to outsmart NORAD's Santa Tracker every year even though his address is public. One could further assume that behind the well-known largesse of a holly jolly man who loves all good little children, there is bearded tough guy who wields a mean candy-cane nunchaku and probably hangs out in biker bars in his off-season.
In the new animated film "Arthur Christmas," Santa runs a high-tech paramilitary operation in order to deliver toys to the world's children in one night. In that spirit, instead of the doughy, dimply holiday mascot, let's celebrate the 10 best cool Kris Kringles, punching Pere Noels, survivalist Santa Clauses and fierce Father Christmases of pop-culture.
Step aside Edmund Gwenn and Richard Attenborough (from both versions of "Miracle on 34th Street"), because Ed Asner is the better Santa for New York City in this 2003 modern classic. Instead of being committed to Bellevue, this Santa runs the risk of being thrown into Riker's Island after squaring off with the Central Park Rangers and putting them on the "Naughty" list. Squinty and grumpy, Asner's Santa is an old soul who gets the job done but brandishes a tire iron when threatened. And who can forget this advice about the Big Apple from the savvy world traveler: Gum on the street isn't free candy, so don't pick it up; there are 30 Ray's Pizza restaurants that claim to be the original, but the real one is on 11th; "Peep Shows" are not where you get a sneak peak at toys before Christmas.
"Futurama, Vol. 2: Xmas Story"
There may be a day when a flesh-and-blood Santa decides to call it quits. But just like Superman, Santa has a robot clone to back him up. However, just like Superman's, that robot clone is insane. Created by Mom's Friendly Robot Company, Robot Santa Claus runs the holiday in the 31st century. Unfortunately, Xmas has become a day of terror because robo-Claus' naughty-or-nice programming is out of whack and everyone is judged naughty - and most likely destroyed. Armed with weapons such as T.O.W. missiles (wordplay!) and bicycle guns created by his Neptunian slave laborers, Robot Santa manages to wreak havoc while also bringing people together, even if it does mean huddling together in hiding for a day.
"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"
Father Christmas is pretty dedicated to his job of giving, but when his gifts also involve having children do his dirty work to take out a nemesis, even better. In the 2005 film adaptation of C.S. Lewis' first "Narnia" book, the Pevensie children are on the run from the White Witch who has kept the world inside the wardrobe pretty cold for 100 years. When her hold over Narnia begins to slip, the kids run into the jolly old arms dealer. Because there's no age limit or waiting list for receiving weapons at the North Pole, Santa gives a sword and shield to Peter, a bow and arrows to Susan, and a dagger to Lucy. Then he takes off to let them clean up the mess. As one of the few grown-ups in the story who isn't evil, and isn't a talking animal, Santa is like Narnia's answer to Nick Fury - a fairly savvy tactician who'd rather not get his hands dirty.
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