What happened to the Action Hero?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by DaveF, Feb 4, 2002.

  1. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    It recently dawned on me that the solitary Action Hero has been supplanted by the Ensemble Heroes in recent years.
    I grew up with primarily the lone heroes e.g Arnie, Sly Stallone, Harrison Ford. Each one was an army unto himself. But over the past several years, the Action Hero has fallen into disfavor, while the group hero has risen. Now, I'm seeing more movies like X-Men, Matrix, Fast and the Furious, and Armageddon.
    I'm not complaining. I enjoy both sorts of heroes and movies. But I'm wondering why the shift?
    Am I correct; has there been a shift in hero types in recent years?
    Was there a specific movie or year that signaled the shift?
    Why did this happen?
    What other periods of movie history has this shift been seen (either to, or from, the solitary hero)?
    I look forward to your comments and insights [​IMG]
     
  2. Kenneth

    Kenneth Supporting Actor

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    Interesting observations. I hadn't really thought that much about it previously but here are a few ideas for the shift:

    Economics: Movies cost a lot of money now. More than ever before. I would suspect that an ensemble cast makes people more confident about the box office because they are not dependent on the draw of any single individual.

    Suspension of Disbelief factor: Not that this has ever been a major driving factor for Hollywood but your superhuman feats might become more paletible if they are perpetrated by a group.

    Buddy factor: There are a lot of big name draws in Hollywood now and many of them know each other. I think they may get together to make buddy pictures (and action is a good genre for this). Ocean's 11 might fit this catagory.

    Broader story concepts: A story involving a lone hero has a limited number of possibilities (and Hollywood was pretty good at exhausting most of them). Adding the group dynamic opens a plethora of alternatives.

    That's as far as my thinking take me.

    Kenneth
     
  3. TimW

    TimW Agent

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    I think it all started way back when with those darned Smurfs. [​IMG]
     
  4. Darren H

    Darren H Second Unit

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    Perestroika
     
  5. bill lopez

    bill lopez Second Unit

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    Those movies with Sly,Arnie & Bruce had Right Wing story in their movies. But then Bill Clinton was elected and Hollywood got rid of the Right Wing Patriot hero for a more sexy,Left Wing action hero. You'll notice on t.v. as well we got all those trashy sex talk shows also.
     
  6. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    I reject the thesis and offer up as evidence the Mission Impossible films. They jettisoned the premise of the series to make Hunt a loner hero. Also, the ultimate loner super hero, Spiderman, is coming this summer. w.r.t. the Matrix, it is really about one character (he is, after all, "the one") in the same sense that Predator was about Arnie despite the presence of his team.

    As far as the political stuff in Bill's response. Uh...I don't get it.

    Regards,
     
  7. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    I think it is pretty simple: There hasn't been any new action stars that can bring people just on their name alone. Of the old guys, only Arnold can still do it. All the others make bad movies (Sly, Van Damm), are doing other types of roles (Willis), or are too old (Ford). I mean, when the biggest action stars out there are Kenau Reeves, Tom Cruise, and Ben Affleck, you know you are in trouble. [​IMG]
    There are some out there who have potential. Jet Li is always good, but he has yet to make a good American film and is not yet a bankable star in this country. I think Vin Diesel has a lot of potential. I'm interested to see how XXX does. Heath Ledger might be a possibility if he picks the right roles.
    Jason
     
  8. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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  9. Ash Williams

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  11. Josh_Hill

    Josh_Hill Screenwriter

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    They are still there. They are Arnold, Jackie Chan, Chow-Yun Fat, and Jet Li. But I think Tom Cruise and Keanu and Ben are good action heroes.
     
  12. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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  13. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Jackie Chan is and has always been much different than the one man army concept described above. The appeal of Jackie is that no matter how skilled the character he is playing may be, he always gets hurt or hurts himself in a way that makes him endearing to the audience.

    That is also why the Arnie movies such as Predator, Terminator 2, and Total Recall where he is evenly matched or the underdog are the most appealing whereas a true one man army film such as Commando is not, IMHO. I will grant the exception of True Lies, where he was more or less a one man army spy, but even then, his vulnerability through and to his family was what made it entertaining. The Terminator does not count because he was not an "action hero" in that one.

    Regards,
     
  14. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    I don't define Jackie Chan as an "Action Hero". He's more like the modern version of Buster Keaton. Tremendously outrageous stunts combined with comedy.

    Chow Yun Fat has the same problem as a lot of the aging US stars. He's starting to get too old for this crap. To his credit, he's always been more than just an "Action Hero".

    Jason
     
  15. Josh_Hill

    Josh_Hill Screenwriter

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    I dont think Chow-Yun Fat is getting to old. He can still kick ass with the best of em.

    And Jackie is the best action hero today. He is an action hero, but yes he uses comedy.
     

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