Colonial patriot versus iconic drill instructor. World War II officer versus ... Sith lord?

It's a four-way sprint to the end of Battle Bracket: Clash of Characters, where Military Times will crown the greatest on-screen fictional military movie character ever based on audience votes. Make your voice heard here, and don't delay -- polls close Friday afternoon.

After you've chosen your two finalists, check out four quick hits on the semifinal round matchups below.

1. Gibson's gauntlet: Benjamin Martin ("The Patriot") will take on perennial favorite Gunnery Sgt. Hartman ("Full Metal Jacket") in the semifinal round after notching his latest in a series of impressive victories, edging John Rambo by less than 2 percentage points. Prior victims of Mel Gibson's freedom fighter included Jack Reacher, Steve "Captain America" Rogers and Maj. Dutch Schaefer ("Predator"). 

2. Lost in time: The other semifinal pits Capt. John Miller ("Saving Private Ryan") against Darth Vader, characters separated by space and time and squarely on the opposite sides of the Force for much of their story arcs. Vader's no stranger to style clashes, however: His route to the semifinals includes wins over a female Navy lieutenant, an NCIS agent and a bug-hunter.

3. Unfamiliar territory:

While some regions of the Clash of Characters bracket included entrants from multiple genres and film eras, the semifinals will throw open the remaining gates. It'll be Gunny Hartman's first skirmish against the star of a fairly recent film, and Tom Hanks' Miller is a new level of celebrity power for Vader to try and strike down. Much like that other tournament in progress, prior performance can mean little.

4. Bye, Hawkeye:

The defeat of Capt. "Hawkeye" Pierce at the hands of Darth Vader in the quarterfinals marked not just the end of the road for the 4077th, it's also the swan song for the small screen (with apologies to Elliott Gould). Of the semifinalists, only Vader has even a limited television presence thanks to various Star Wars properties, including one that could cost him votes


Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.

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