Are Tough Heroes Disappearing?July 18th, 2011 by Uri
Yesterday was James Cagney’s birthday, one of cinema’s archetypical 20th century tough heroes, and today we celebrate 21st century tough guy Vin Diesel’s birthday, so it seems like the perfect opportunity to examine our beloved rough and tumble heroes. The question at hand; have they gotten better or worse?
Since Cagney and his peers played by the 1930s rule book, we’ll have to compare today’s tough guys to the gang who most resembles them: the 1970s and 1980s tough guys. Let the machismo match up begin.
Receding Hairline Heroes
Just because you’re losing your hair doesn’t mean you’re losing the ability to wield a gun and look menacing, as exemplified by this duo:
Although better known for his roles as tough law enforcers, Mr. Willis also played some less official hard hitting people, like in this period piece about a gang war in Texas, which is (yet another) remake to Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo.
Probably the most grimacing Briton working today, Statham specializes in portraying an assortment of fast moving hooligans whose main trait (aside from creeping baldness) is their obsessive need for speed.
Deadly Creature Beating Heroes
Some heroes aren’t satisfied by defeating mere mortals so they find themselves confronting various monsters.
Sometimes, when the deadly creatures don’t arrive on earth to cause chaos and mayhem, our hard nosed heroes have to go to another planet to fight them. Such is the case of The Rock in this computer game based sci-fi action film.
Oscar Winning Heroes
Tough heroes don’t usually get recognized by awards that don’t have “Spike TV” at the beginning of their name. There are however some exceptions to this rule.
Remembering who you are or how you got here isn’t necessary for a tough hero so long as you remember how to make a fist. Just look at Matt Damon in this fast pace saga of a secret agent who suffers from memory loss.
Randomly Mustachioed Heroes
Regarded as a symbol of masculinity in some cultures, a mustache can sometimes be used as a heroism enhancing device.
Mr. Bronson’s vigilantism didn’t start with the Death Wish films; it was preceded by this tale of a farmer pushed to action against gangsters threatening him and his workers.
Even tough heroes need a little help from their friends from time to time.
Rounding up a dream team of old school tough guys Sylvester Stallone sets his sights on overthrowing the corrupt ruler of a fabricated South American country, just like the good old days.
Even the toughest DEA agent can’t take on an entire drug cartel, so recruiting your buddies as partners against crime looks like a logical move. And, adhering to this logic, explosions ensue.
In conclusion, not only do today’s tough heroes lose decidedly to their predecessors, their ranks aren’t being strengthened by any new worthy talent. I mean, Jake Gyllenhaal? Seriously? No wonder Stallone is now working on a sequel to The Expendables, and Schwarzenegger announced that “he’s back!”…
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