‘Yellowstone’s John Dutton vs. Lieutenant Dunbar: Which Kevin Costner Character Would Take Down The Other?

by Thad Mitchell
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Throughout his illustrious career, Yellowstone actor Kevin Costner has been Hollywood’s Jack of all trades. He’s portrayed a seemingly endless amount of tough-as-nails characters. But now we’re asking the question, which iconic Costner character would take down the other?

The now 66-year-old Costner has a resume that can stack up against Hollywood’s most elite actors and actresses. His achievements are numerous and he’s won more than just a few awards for playing leading roles in movies and television. The legendary actor has two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. In other words, Costner has long established that he is a premier leading man in show business with a career spanning several decades.

Kevin Costner has starred in several movies and television shows that have produced memorable characters and unforgettable scenes. With a naturally grizzled voice and formidable stature, he often plays “tough guys” in films and on television. In 2012, he played Devil Anse Hatfield, the leader of the Hatfield clan, in the miniseries “Hatfields and McCoys.” In 1987, he had his breakthrough performance in “The Untouchables” as Eliot Ness. He plays the titular characters in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” and 1992’s “The Bodyguard.”

For all of his “tough guy” roles, two characters easily standout. The roles of John Dutton in “Yellowstone” and Lt. John Dunbar in “Dances With Wolves.”

The Ultimate Kevin Costner Showdown

What would happen if the two fictional characters met up and locked horns? Let us examine who would prevail in a battle of Costner’s two most fitting roles.

On Yellowstone, John Dutton is the patriarch of the prominent Dutton Family and owner of Yellowstone Ranch. The Dutton family patriarch is gritty and “meaner than evil.” He also doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty or assigning a ranch hand to a dirty deed.

In the first season of the show, Dutton show his willingness to do whatever in necessary to keep what belongs to him. When wayward cattle wander off and onto land owned by a local Indian tribe, John comes in guns blazing to take back what is his. His own son dies in the confrontation.

“If you act like a thief, I will treat you like one,” Dutton says to tribe leader Chief Rainwater.

John’s supreme toughness is also on full display in the opening scene of season 1. After surviving a horrific car crash, which later is revealed as an assassination attempt, he walks out from the wreckage with blood flowing from his head. He first puts an injured horse out of its misery before tending to the driver of the truck that hit him. While he is unable to save the driver, Dutton walks away from the incident with only minor injuries. Or at least, they’re only minor to a BA like John Dutton.

Possibly his ultimate show of toughness is when he comes under a knife without anesthesia or medication. With a cancer diagnosis looming over his head, John has only a piece of cloth to bite down on. The impromptu surgery is a success, though John’s ensuing physical therapy did not go so well as he refuses to use a floatation device in the pool.

John Dunbar in ‘Dances with Wolves’ vs. John Dutton in ‘Yellowstone’

As Lt. John Dunbar, Kevin Costner takes on the challenging role of a Civil War veteran tasked with manning a forgotten post. The hugely popular movie took the Oscar Award for best picture in 1991.

The movie begins with Dunbar choosing suicide over leg amputation after suffering an injury. With his horse, Cisco, he rides to the frontline of the Confederate Army, assuming he will be shot and killed. Neither of those things happen and Dunbar takes Cisco to live on the Northern frontier. It doesn’t get much tougher than that.

He befriends a local Native American Tribe and is eventually accepted by the tribe and earns the name “Dances with Wolves.” Dunbar also befriends a wolf he dubs “two socks” for his two white paws. If your best friend is a wolf, then it’s likely you have a great deal of courage and fortitude. Dunbar earns trust from the tribe and vows to help them defend their territory against attackers. In the process, he familiarizes himself with their culture and battle techniques.

So who wins in a battle of two Kevin Costner legendary characters?

We think the edge goes to John Dutton as Costner’s Yellowstone character has a “do whatever it takes” kind of attitude. While Dunbar may have the tactical advantage due to military experience, he also seems to have a bit more of a soft side. Dutton could possibly have a soft side. But we sure haven’t seen it yet on Yellowstone.

When all is fair in love and war, the advantage goes to the most willing to get their hands dirty. That description fits Dutton to a tee.

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