Curtis King   Greatest English Teacher  English 1101 Fall
  Realism: The Cause of Increased Popularity of
Action/Adventure Films

The release of the movie “Die Hard” in 1988 brought a new dimension to the action/adventure genre. In the past, such movies featured static heroes who could defeat the villain, win the femme fatale and retreat to a private island in the Pacific. The detail that was left out of this formula involved reality: what happens to the hero when it’s time to go home? Bruce Willis’ portrayal of Officer John McClane gave new life to the action hero. Most importantly, it raised one thought in the heads of movie-goers everywhere: that could be me. I could be an action hero. The rise in popularity of action/adventure films was caused by the change of the genre from fantastic to realistic.
   In order to assess why people enjoy these movies more now than ever, one must determine why they might not have enjoyed them in the past. The most popular action franchise has been the James Bond series. This series has a formula from which it never deviates. Bond is given a dangerous, risky assignment involving tracking down and defeating the latest villain. During this time, he meets one or two women: one woman is the femme fatale who tempts him while keeping the secret that she, too, is up to no good. Often there is an additional female character that Bond is not attracted to until the villainess is out of the picture. Bond eventually defeats the bad guys, completes his assignment, and never goes off into the sunset alone. Men aspire to be James Bond, though they can predict how the film will end.  Women, however, have no significant function in this process, as they have grown up with the admonishment not to simply be the object of a man’s lust; it’s too passive a role. Therefore, movies like the James Bond series held no appeal for women and little mystery for the men.
   “Die Hard” was one of the first action movies to feature a well-rounded, would-be hero who found himself in extraordinary circumstances. John McClane was attending a Christmas party at his estranged wife’s office when Hans Gruber and his band of European thugs invaded the building in order to steal millions from the vault. In the end, Bond didn’t ride off into the sunset without a hair out of place (as it happens, he was balding). Rather, he was bloodied and banged up by the end of the movie and reunited with his wife. Not exactly a James Bond ending. The beauty of this movie was that it had something to offer both men and women alike, and it inspired an entire new genre: the Everyday Action/Adventure Film. Since 1988, many films have been released following this new formula and attracting both men and women alike.
   Children are the last frontier in the marketing of action/adventure movies. The Harry Potter series is popular because the idea that an ordinary child with extraordinary abilities is a popular fantasy for children. By producing these movies, movie studios feed into kids’ fantasies about being special. The movies are geared for all ages, and the action in the movies lends itself to adults as well. In any viewing of a Harry Potter movie, one will find just as many adults enjoying the film as children. Many adults will come by themselves, without the excuse of bringing a child.
   Taking the movie hero down to a level of realism is the direct cause of more people enjoying action/adventure movies. Instead of seeing a larger than life hero with an unlimited budget and sex appeal, viewers see themselves in these movies. They see who they would like to be and for once, it seems possible to attain.