The Fall of Calm, Cool, and Collected and the Rise of the Flawed Hero

While watching re-runs of the 1960s cult classic, The Avengers, I was reminded of the effortless cool of many of that era’s heroes. With their witty banter and impeccable fashion sense, John Steed and Emma Peel were the epitome of the clever and effortlessly cool hero. Sean Connery as James Bond, the ever-jaded Humphrey Bogart, and even Cary Grant with his many aliases in the comic film Charade all exuded debonair qualities. Nowadays, many audiences gravitate toward anti-heroes instead. We are all about gritty realism, whether that’s by casting non-celebrity faces with minimal if any make-up as in Orange is the New Black, showing explicit content as in Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, or simply having skewed morals as in House of Cards or Dexter. There are even heroes who revoke the traditional heroism thrust upon them as with Jessica Jones. Modern-day protagonists are not often meant to be looked up to, but humanly flawed and as susceptible to be corrupted as we are. Yet it goes even beyond mere human flaws. It seems we enjoy seeing the extremes of bad behavior and the worst versions of ourselves. How did this come about? Is there a way to attain gritty realism without sacrificing the self-assuredness of the supposed heroes?

  • Great topic. I think there's an groundswell begging the return of standard heroes, not that antiheroes will disappear. – Tigey 8 years ago
  • In terms of how it came to be, talk about how relatable these anti-heros are to real life people and situations. Relatability goes a long way in modern day film, because people are more accepting of how these old "heros" are not exactly the most realistic, and find the anti-hero more exciting. Incorporate why this has changed over the years. – Deana Murphy 8 years ago

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