Essay Plan: To what extent does the changing representation of movie heroes reflect society’s attitude towards masculinity?

Introduction: A protagonists/heroes role in every movie is to connect with the audience, they have to invest in the character whether it be excitement, intrigue, lust, sympathy or any other emotion it doesn’t matter, what matters is the audience is invested in the character. With the constant evolution of the media, different eras of stereotypes for these heroes have passed, some have been more successful than others but were these sudden changes in heroes reflecting the current events in society and in turn how masculinity was looked upon by society?

A hero can be defined as a ‘person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for their brave deeds and noble qualities’. To fit the definition it seems anyone could be a superhero, however that tends not to be the case as these heroes have to have something special that makes the audience connect with them, in the late 70’s into the early 80’s the movie industry was booming and grossing more money than ever before and one thing was consistent, the representation and appearance of the male hero. A fascination of muscular, larger than life males took place, taking over not only the sports world but all grounds of the media including movies. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Jean Claude Van Damme among others dominated the red carpet all portraying buff, strong and brave super heroes in some of the highest grossing movies ever at this time. They all possessed enormous amounts of charisma and always had the audience emotionally invested, the talent of these heroes can’t be diminished by putting their success down to their physical appearance but soon a new era of super heroes was going to take over and the muscular physiques began fading out…

Societies romanticizing of men with muscular physiques was reflected in all forms of media and especially movies throughout the 70’s and 80’s but in the early 90’s a scandal would take over America and muscular physiques went from being romanticized to looked down upon and American heroes of the 80’s were publically spotlighted and many had their images chopped down by the media due to a drug which had garnered much negative attention, steroids.

Paragraph 1: Early 90’s steroid scandal – specifically how it affected the careers of big movie stars who were involved in the scandal and had admitted using the drug e.g Schwarzenegger (lack of big movie roles during this period following his defence of steroids during negative reports in the media). How it was not only effecting movie stars but was truly society wide scandal effecting sports as well:

Paragraph 2: 90’s movies change – gearing more towards kids with films like Lion King, Toy Story, Star Wars etc being big at box office, totally different heroes compared to the 80’s. Different approach to male heroes with different looks, example – Leonardo Dicaprio, bruce willis, ben Affleck, will smith.

Paragraph 3: The next society change to effect the movie industry – 9/11 – how it changed movies, heroes and villains.

Paragraph 4: Smaller society changes that effected or possibly should have affected the movie industry.

Paragraph 5: Modern day beliefs regarding masculinity and the rise once again of muscular male heroes in movies – Hugh Jackman, Dwayne Johnson etc. Linked with society getting ‘over’ the use of drugs?

Conclusion: Sum up from both sides – if society are the reason for these changes or whether it was just the evolution of the movie industry, tie in the constantly changing views on masculinity and how that has led to an increasing number of female heroes in movies in the 21st century.


2 thoughts on “Essay Plan: To what extent does the changing representation of movie heroes reflect society’s attitude towards masculinity?

  1. I think you have some interesting points and your essay will be well structured, you just have to get into much more detail concerning the changes and why they happened. For example the dissolving of ‘big’ ‘muscular’ men in these films might not have just been because of steroid use, but because it was hard to relate to them with their almost inhuman ability which meant the role was not fulfilling its purpose.
    Take John Cusack (hero) from the movie 2012. He never had inhuman strength or special fighting ability like some others in the 80’s, but he was courageous, brave and clever. He also had many psychological problems like his family falling apart. Its about what they can overcome.

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