Once upon a time, the hero of any action movie was a tough, muscular man with a big gun. He often spoke in one-syllable sentences. He usually wore one outfit that somehow deteriorated until he was shirtless by the story’s climax. His journey hinged on revenge.
Then something happened—computers were born. Computers brought with them the potential of before-unimagined power. Computers controlled information. Computers controlled money. Computers controlled governments. Wait… it wasn’t the computers that controlled everything. The men controlling the computers controlled everything.
Movies scrambled to adapt. They began including these characters, at first as the skinny nerds that needed protection from the evil villains. Enter the action hero, once again, with his big gun and oiled chest. The hulking hero saved this new “damsel in distress,” the diminutive geek with the pocket-protector.
Then something else happened—the geeks protected themselves. Turns out that these soft-spoken men-behind-the-desks not only have brains, but they have a few muscles, too. They can create the cool, high-tech gadgets and employ them as well.
The new James Bond (Daniel Craig) hacks into M’s personal account at MI6. Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) triangulates his foe’s location with a cheap cell phone. Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi, Chuck, NBC) is the ultimate computer weapon incarnate. Morgan Grimes, (Joshua Gomez, Chuck, NBC) soon joins his zero-to-hero ranks. Recently on Twitter, Auggie Anderson (Chris Gorham, Covert Affairs, USA) ascended to near-Chuck Norris heights of legend.
Why? When did this happen? It appears that Hollywood has finally caught up with technology, not just with special effects, but real world electronic capabilities. Hollywood seems to be acknowledging that real men have computer skills.
I’m not trying to be sexist by focusing on the men, but the transformation for the leading ladies seems to have evolved less dramatically. I suspect it’s because of the fact that very few movie plots focus on women whooping up on people.
Frankly, I’m delighted. I’ve known for years that men with brains and a sense of humor are much more attractive than sweaty, no-neck guys with machetes. After all, a real hero uses every tool at his disposal. He knows why he fights, and for whom. He knows how to be clever, witty, and subtle. He knows when to use high-tech weaponry, when to use book-smarts, and when to exercise a mean right hook.
He’s the man who gets the girl, because he’s the man who appreciates the woman.
That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema! Thanks for reading!