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Hollywood Action Hero

Hey, look at me
Walking away like Action Movie Hero Boy,
Everything glowing and blowing to bits
Right behind me!
Lemon Demon, "Action Movie Hero Boy"

A subtrope of the Action Hero, a Hollywood Action Hero is The Hero of a Summer Blockbuster Action Adventure Movie. He (and it's almost always a he) is usually defined by a few specific traits that separate him from other types of heroes:

  • Personality: Usually a Hollywood Action Hero is stoic and glib or wisecracking and jolly. Usually he's either creative or determined. This last one usually combines with Made of Iron to form Implacable Man.
  • Intellect: Usually Book Dumb but deadly practical, sometimes unusually smart.
  • Morality: A few are Anti Heroes but most are plain old heroes who are morally upright. That doesn't stop them from killing mooks yet deliberating a bit with villains though.
  • Aesthetics: Usually rugged and unshaven, often muscular, and usually scarred.
  • Martial Ability: They'll of course be Made of Iron or just plain made of hit points, soaking up tons of damage without stopping. They'll rarely fight with anything more complex than Good Old Fisticuffs and a trusty BFG or Hand Cannon.

Now compare the above to Common Mary Sue Traits.

Unsurprisingly, these types can fall to Invincible Hero if done poorly, especially when you consider your typical Action Hero wastes a mole of mooks by movies' end. When it's averted, expect it to result in the hero bloody, bruised, and hurt badly by the end. He may be a Badass Normal, but he still worked for that victory. Speaking of normal, Hollywood Action Heroes rarely have super Powers, perhaps because they tend to fit a male viewers "fantasy" of their ideal self, a strong warrior ubermensch type who kills bad guys, does good, and gets the girl.

The phrase "action heroes" appeared early in the 1960's, used to describe the Charlton Comics protagonists (later the inspiration for the characters in Watchmen). This phrase, coined by Dick Giordiano, applied to their mostly non-metahuman adventurers such as The Question and Ted Kord. The era with the biggest affluence of Action Heroes are probably the 80's and 90's, with big name stars like Stallone, Schwarzeneger, Bruce Willis, and many, many others starring in a half dozen Summer Blockbusters every year. Many film critics lament that the current generation of actors has failed to produce a viable crop of Action Heroes, with only a few actors fitting the "classical" model like Jason Statham, Vin Diesel, and Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock. There was also a big action movie scene in Hong Kong, with stars such as Bruce Lee, Chow Yun-Fat, Jackie Chan and Jet Li kicking serious ass with kung fu (or Gun Fu, in the case of Chow Yun-Fat).

The movies of the 2000s have instead produced the Action Survivor who, rather than being a Marty Stu, is more akin to a Self-Insert Fic where Hilarity Ensues. Occasionally both are teamed up as an Action Duo. Contrast the Nerd Action Hero.

Examples of Action Heroes:

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Bruce Lee

Bruce Willis

Chow Yun-Fat

Clint Eastwood

Chuck Norris

Dolph Lundgren

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

Errol Flynn

Harrison Ford

Humphrey Bogart

Jackie Chan

Jason Statham

Jean-Claude Van Damme

Jet Li

Kurt Russell

Mel Gibson

Nicolas Cage

Sean Connery

Steven Seagal

Sylvester Stallone

Tony Jaa

Vin Diesel


High Heel-Face TurnMen Are ToughHoney Trap
Action HeroHeroesNerd Action Hero

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