Outsourcing Masculinity: Where Have All The American Action Heroes Gone?
May 20, 2016
This week, I had the chance to see an advanced screening of The Nice Guys starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. The movie plays up the differences between the two characters in the buddy-comedy, but the “Couples Therapy” videos they did to promote the movie were even more hilarious in showing those differences. Alpha vs. Beta. Stoic vs. Emotional. Gen Xer vs. Millennial.
The Nice Guys also got me thinking about today’s male action stars. Most of them fall into two categories: 1) Over 50 years old and 2) Not born in the United States. Obviously, there are exceptions, like Mark Wahlberg, Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and others you can argue about in the comments. To me, these guys became famous for non-action roles first, so I don’t think of them as action stars. Sure, there are others, but they’re still the exceptions.
Let’s start with the first category – over the age of 50 action stars. It’s no surprise they even created their own movie series, The Expendables. Current over-50 box office favorites include Harrison Ford, Keanu Reeves, Bruce Campbell, Robert Downey, Jr., Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis, Robert Davi, among others in The Expendables series.
In the other category – not born in the United States – we have Russell Crowe, Liam Neeson, Henry Cavill, Jason Statham, Tom Hardy, Daniel Craig, Liam and Chris Hemsworth, Idris Elba, Hugh Jackman, Jet Li, Christian Bale, among others. Some of them, like Neeson and Crowe, fit into both categories.