Today we are spoiled with realistic special effects and out of this world technology, making superheroes more believable and super then ever. If you grew up anywhere from the 70's to the 90's you knew who Chuck Norris, Sylvester Stallone, or Charles Bronson were. Throughout most of their career they were bad ass, military trained special assassins who could open up a huge can of whoop ass when threatened. Action heroes use to rely on their huge physique, fist, guns and smooth one liners. Now we are in a time where our heroes are big and buff but mostly because they're gods, have been treated with super serums or have invincible suits. We live in an age where there are few one man armies with unlimited ammo and gallons of fake blood. R rating's are not "in" as studios want a lot of people showing up to their films making a general audience and prefer dramatic acting over "mindless" action. With current films like Olympus has Fallen, we are treated to a small taste of what use to be, one liners, blood and bullets. Although the film is a huge homage to earlier works like Die Hard it definately provided us with the same feeling of nostalgia.
With the roaring success of superhero films and the slated releases coming out over the course of the next couple years, it's easy to see these are the films people are asking for. Several actors have devoted themselves to their physique to play a superhero (I'm not arguing) but rely mostly on their abilities or powers. I am a superhero fan myself, I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe and excited to see how the DC Extended Universe does but they are riddled with CGI everywhere, and takes away the need for a lot of stunt work and practical effects. It feels at least two out of every three movies I see are superhero films. The other third is filled with Oscar films like Spotlight, The Revenant, and Room, which are fantastic in their own right. There are times although you just want to see a lot of bullets, blood and explosions, which is why I think the Oscar shocking Mad Max: Fury Road did so well. A continuation of an earlier action film series that carried off right where it left off, with tons of practical effects (yes, there was CGI as well) and high octane action. It has helped fill in a missing void that nostalgic action viewers wanted.
Nowadays the whole family can go to a theater to watch an action hero, in the form of Ironman or Superman and the studios can sweep the money in. The R rating seems to deter studios from even considering films these days because they know only a select audience will be able to see it. With the recent success of Fox Studio's Deadpool though, it may seem we are at the tip of a turnaround. I know the character and loved the film but it did so well because of it's property. Yes, not every superhero film should receive such a rating, but properties like Wolverine and Deadpool need it to showcase the material. With a slow turn around of studios realizing R rated films can increase their profits maybe we will see more of the action and blood we want.
Another reason superheroes are the action heroes of today, is the international market. In the 80's, while Arnie and Sly were shooting aliens and terrorists, on the other side of the world, Jackie Chan and John Woo were making action films that made ours look like a backyard project. The films were much more intense and choreographed. When we got a glimpse of what we'd been missing out on, it turned the action hero genre to a worldwide audience. Now film watchers are much more attuned to other countries action films, while others look at our super hero genre. A lot of which we can thank to our R rating hysteria.
In closing, while we may not get to relive our one man army action heroes of the 70's, 80's and 90's we are left with a new generation of super heroes, with a few films scattered throughout to fuel our nostalgia. Sylvester Stallone is still planning on another Expendables film and Arnie has released a few other decent action hero films but nothing will ever be as great at seeing them in Commando or Rambo. There have been plans for a Commando remake and a Rambo television series, but we do not want remakes. We want new guys with guns and unlimited ammo ripping through bad guys like there's no tomorrow. In an interview about the first Expendables, Stallone explains that it is a passing of the torch to the new wave of action heroes. Will we see a turn around of new action films, or are superheroes this generations action heroes?
Are superheroes our new wave of action heroes? What do you think about the last decade of action films? Let us know in the comments section below!