Snake Plissken

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Snake Plissken

Snake Plissken is escorted by armed United States Police Force officers after arriving at their Liberty Station base in Escape from New York.
First appearanceEscape from New York (1981)
Last appearanceEscape from L.A. (1996)
Created byJohn Carpenter
Nick Castle
Portrayed byKurt Russell
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Snake Plissken

Snake Plissken is escorted by armed United States Police Force officers after arriving at their Liberty Station base in Escape from New York.
First appearanceEscape from New York (1981)
Last appearanceEscape from L.A. (1996)
Created byJohn Carpenter
Nick Castle
Portrayed byKurt Russell

S.D. Bob[2] "Snake" Plissken is a fictional character in John Carpenter's films Escape from New York and Escape from L.A., played by Kurt Russell. He is a former Special Forces operator/war hero in World War III turned criminal. His apprehension and coercion by the United States Police Force to secure top-secret material from the ex-cities turned maximum security prisons of New York and Los Angeles play a big role in the movies, giving him the role of the main protagonist.


Fictional Biography


Snake Plissken is a former U.S. Army Lieutenant, serving under Special Forces Unit Black Flight[3] ("Gullfire" was the name of the glider Snake used), with two Purple Hearts,[4] and the youngest soldier to be decorated by the U.S. President[5] for bravery during campaigns in Leningrad and Siberia in World War III against the USSR.

Some time later, he turned to a life of crime, probably due to the perceived betrayal of the United States government during the "Leningrad Ruse" (which were the events that caused him to lose the use of his left eye) and when his parents were burned alive in their home by the United States Police Force.[6] He traveled with his war buddy and only friend, Bill Taylor.[7] Snake took up with partners Harold Hellman (later known as "Brain") and Fresno Bob. In Kansas City around 1993, Hellman apparently let Plissken and Fresno Bob get cornered by police,[8] at which time Fresno Bob was brutally tortured and killed by sadistic law enforcers within the United States Police Force.[9]

Possibly as a result of the Kansas City incident, it was widely believed in the criminal community that Plissken was dead. This is a running gag in Escape from New York: "I heard you were dead" (a homage to the John Wayne film Big Jake). In Escape from L.A. the recurring joke is changed to "I thought you'd be taller."

Snake has a tattoo of a snake on his stomach, possibly as a reference to the Man with No Name, on whom Snake is partly based, who had metal snakes on the grip of his pistol in Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy.[citation needed]


Snake is shown as being very cynical, most likely due to the hypocrisy of the American government, and appears to be willing to do anything to survive. He is short and stern in his speech, and holds nothing sacred or even important. He does, however, hold a loose code of honor.

Escape from New York

As mentioned in the movie, Snake was arrested in 1997 after breaking into the U.S. Federal Reserve in Denver, Colorado. Following the heist, the story of his capture and the death of Bill Taylor (Joe Unger) was filmed, although the footage was cut from the beginning of the movie. It can be seen on supplementary materials on the VHS and DVD editions of Escape from New York.

He was sentenced to life in New York maximum security prison, the entire island of Manhattan, surrounded by an impenetrable wall and left in a state of anarchy. At this time, Air Force One was hijacked and crashed into Manhattan, and the President, played by Donald Pleasence, was captured by the Duke of New York (Isaac Hayes), the de facto leader of the prisoners. Bob Hauk (Lee Van Cleef) offered Snake a full pardon for every criminal action he committed if he would go in and rescue the President. The President carried technical information that would allow the USA to be the dominant world power, but in 24 hours it would be useless. Hauk enforced the time limit by implanting microscopic explosive capsules in Plissken's carotid arteries, which would detonate at the deadline. Plissken rescued the President with the help of Harold Hellman (Harry Dean Stanton) (now known as Brain, and working for the Duke of New York), Brain's "squeeze" Maggie (Adrienne Barbeau), and a taxicab driver nicknamed Cabby (Ernest Borgnine). Only Plissken and the President survived their escape. As the President began his broadcast speech, Plissken walked away, deliberately shredding the time-critical information tape.

The Adventures of Snake Plissken

Marvel released the one shot The Adventures of Snake Plissken in January 1997. The story takes place sometime between Escape from New York and before his famous Cleveland escape mentioned in Escape from L.A. Snake has robbed Atlanta's Center for Disease Control of some engineered metaviruses and is looking for buyers in Chicago. Finding himself in a deal that's really a set-up, he makes his getaway and exacts revenge on the buyer for ratting him out to the United States Police Force. In the meantime, a government lab has built a robot called A.T.A.C.S. (Autonomous Tracking And Combat System) that can catch criminals by imprinting their personalities upon its program in order to predict and anticipate a specific criminal's every move. The robot's first test subject is America's public enemy number one, Snake Plissken. After a brief battle, the tide turns when A.T.A.C.S. copies Snake to the point of fully becoming his personality. Now recognizing the government as the enemy, A.T.A.C.S. sides with Snake. Unamused, Snake sucker punches the machine and destroys it. As A.T.A.C.S. shuts down, it can only ask him, "Why?" Snake just walks off answering, "I don't need the competition".

John Carpenter's Snake Plissken Chronicles

Cover of John Carpenter's Snake Plissken Chronicles.

Snake Plissken appeared in John Carpenter's Snake Plissken Chronicles, a four-part comic book miniseries released in 2003 that was published by CrossGen comics and Hurricane Entertainment. The story takes place the morning after the events in Escape from New York. Snake has been given a military Humvee after his presidential pardon and makes his way to Atlantic City. Despite the fact the director's cut of the New York movie shows Snake was caught after a bank job, this story has Snake finishing up a second heist that was preplanned before his capture. The job is stealing the car JFK was assassinated in from a casino and then delivering it to a buyer on a yacht in the gulf. The job involves Snake's partnership with a man named Marrs who ends up double crossing him. Left for dead in a sinking crab cage, Snake escapes and is luckily saved by a passing fisherman named Captain Ron. When Ron denies Snake's request to use his boat in order to beat Marrs to the robbery, Snake decides to kill him. But when he ends up saving Ron from a Russian mob wanting money, Ron changes his mind and helps Snake. Once at the casino, Snake comes face to face with Marrs and his men who arrive at the same time, ending in a high speed shoot out. Snake gets away with the car and its actress portraying Jackie Kennedy, leaving Marrs to be caught by the casino owner who cuts him a deal to bring his car back and live. After some trouble, Snake manages to finally get the car to the buyer's yacht with Ron's boat and is then attacked by Marrs. Following the fire fight the yacht and car are destroyed, Marrs and Captain Ron are dead, and Snake makes his escape in a helicopter with the 30 million credits owed to him for the job. The series is written by William O'Neill, Penciled by Tone Rodriguez and Edited by Jan Utstein-O'Neill.

Escape from L.A.

Sixteen years since his escape from New York, Snake is once again enlisted for a similar situation, as the story begins with a similar plotline as was used in Escape from New York. This time, Snake is forced to retrieve a disk for a remote control which controlled a series of EMP style satellites. These devices are positioned around the entire world. The disk was somewhere in Los Angeles. The city had separated from the mainland due to an earthquake in August 2000 and had become an island separate from the United States which had become a totalitarian theocratic police state. Snake had to retrieve a black box which the President's (Cliff Robertson) daughter, Utopia (A.J. Langer), went into LA with. The President says he doesn't care if she is returned or killed, she is a traitor to his country. Snake initially refuses but once injected with the plutoxin 7 virus - which will lead to his death in ten hours - he agrees. Snake retrieves the box and seemingly returns it to the President. However, when the President attempts to activate it, he learns it is not the real box; Snake reveals that he switched the box with a fake, and promptly uses the code "666" to wipe out all technology in the world.

Cancelled projects

TV series

In the early 2000s, John Carpenter, Kurt Russell, and Debra Hill developed a proposed Snake Plissken television series that was ultimately turned down by all the major networks for being "too dark and bleak."

Chronicles project

Along with the comic book, other Snake Plissken Chronicles projects were announced. A Namco-produced video game was announced,[10] but was later cancelled possibly due to the death of Debra Hill. Production I.G was also set to create an anime film based on the property, reportedly based on the Escape From Earth concept John Carpenter and Kurt Russell had conceived, but this also never materialized. Carpenter and Russell would have executive produced, and Russell would have provided the voice and likeness of Snake.[11]

Escape from Earth

This was a proposed second sequel often mentioned by Carpenter and Russell in interviews prior to the release of Escape From L.A. The concept was that Earth was the only place left for Plissken to escape. After Escape From L.A. failed to attract much business, the project never materialized.

In August 2006, there was an Internet rumor circulating that the project was actively being pursued by Paramount at Russell's urging, but the rumor was revealed to be untrue.[12]

Future appearances

Escape from New York (remake)

On March 13, 2007, It was announced that Gerard Butler would play the role of Snake Plissken in a remake of Escape from New York. Kurt Russell, as well as many fans, did not approve.[13][14][15]

As of June 2008 a rumor has been circulating that the project is proceeding with Josh Brolin as Snake Plissken.[16] However, the project ended up being in development hell. In 2010, according to New York Magazine, plans are back on track after a new rewrite from Allan Loeb, the man responsible for the Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps script. Academy Award nominated actor Jeremy Renner has recently been rumoured to play Snake Plissken according to Bloody, although nothing has been confirmed yet.

References in other media


  1. ^ In the Italian versions of the movies, which are dubbed in Italian, the nickname of the character is changed to Jena (hyaena) probably due to the difficulties in synching the Italian dub with the original (Italian for snake is serpente which is a longer word). The changing of the nickname did no harm to the character: the films in Italy are very popular and so is the name Jena Plissken.
  2. ^ Mentioned by the man with the clipboard about 7-8 minutes into Escape From LA.
  3. ^ Stated by Hauk in Escape from New York, often misheard as Black Light
  4. ^ Mentioned by Hauk in Escape from New York and Cmdr. Malloy in Escape from LA.
  5. ^ Mentioned by Hauk in Escape from New York.
  6. ^ Both of these events are mentioned in the Escape from New York novelization by Mike McQuay
  7. ^ Taylor is mentioned in the Escape from New York novelization and appears in a deleted scene of the film
  8. ^ When they meet later in Escape from New York, Brain says to Plissken, "You were late."
  9. ^ This is loosely referred to in Escape from New York when Snake confronts Hellman saying, "You know what 'they' did to Fresno Bob? Do you want me to show you?"
  10. ^ IGN: New Snake Game
  11. ^ Production IG working on Escape from New York Anime - Anime News Network
  12. ^
  13. ^ IGN: Kurt Blasts Escape Remake
  14. ^ - Showbiz: Movies, TV and Theatre - Snake Plissken hissing over Escape From New York remake
  15. ^ NEWS RUSSELL ENRAGED WITH NEW SNAKE PLISSKEN Music, movie & Entertainment News
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ Phelan, David (April 17, 1999). "Games: Metal Gear Solid". The independent (Independent News & Media). Retrieved September 1, 2010.

External links