To be exact, what kind of historical figure attract writers and audiences’ attention? There are plenty of historical figures out there with interesting life stories, but only portion make into history books, some into novels, and few into movies. What would be the standard? For example, has there been a movie about Alexander Graham Bell and his invention of telephone? If there was, how many were there and how recent were they? Compare that to the life of Napoleon, or Elizabeth I. It may seem apparent that war heroes make into movies more than others, but even then there seem to be striking differences in the attention they receive. This could lead to the study of what type of individual people consider to be "hero", and examine the psyche of the society.
Absolutely this examination could lead to an exploration of the "psyche of the society" on the whole - you could even explore the considerations of the individual and how it relates to that of society for this topic (and many others in general). As for what makes the standard of what sorts of historical figures we tend to utilize for historical fiction, I think that you're on the right track. I would consider examining the personal lives of several specific characters (Freddy Mercury, Abraham Lincoln, TE Lawrence etc) as well as their renowned accomplishments. For Mercury, how his personal life influenced his music and made him such an endearing figure. For Lincoln, how his politics were effected (I'd even explore why he was fictionalized into a vampire hunter, as that is completely incongruous with the widely known President). For Lawrence, how his exposure to a different culture affected his decisions and why we would be intrigued by this (perhaps from a desire to escape from our own realities). There's definitely more that you can do with this subject, I think it's going to be a fun one to think on! – 50caliburlexicon6 years ago