By Sam Cha
Have you noticed that all the heroes have been falling, lately?
I mean that literally.
In nearly every major Hollywood action movie from the past ten years (plus/minus five years, roughly), the hero falls out of the sky. Either that, or they jump or swing or zipline over a bottomless pit.
This isn’t really a new phenomenon, per se. Chaplin and Keaton and Flynn were all inveterate swingers and leapers. Luke Skywalker and Indiana Jones both got some mileage out of it, too. So did Mel Gibson, in the original Lethal Weapon. (I blame Kierkegaard, if you want to know the truth. But that’s a different essay.)
But what is new is the ubiquity of it, the near-mandatory quality of it. It happens now in pretty much every movie that isn’t a romantic comedy, and some that are. And the really new thing is this: the heroes fall or jump more often than the villains.
And they all fall in the same way. If there’s more than one hero, so much the better. More people to fall out of the sky, plummeting like disgraced angels or anthropoid meteorites, to crash-land, to drag dark furrows into the bosom of the earth.
Pardon the purple prose. I’m writing about comic books and action movies here, which means that I’m also writing about myth and metaphor, about the will to power, about tightropes over the abyss between man and superman, about Peter Parker jumping between buildings in order to become Spider-Man, about Doc Ock falling into the sun, about the myth of infinite perfectibility, about the Marvel comics super-soldier serum, about the Bourne Legacy super-soldier serum, about NZT-48, the super-nootropic from Limitless, and about Bradley Cooper walking across the Brooklyn Bridge becoming superhuman, about Charles Atlas and his Dynamically Tense shrugging, about the Protestant work ethic, about capitalism, about MRA dipshits and PUA fuckwads, about Grant Morrison as a faucet of toxic bullshit, about Alan Moore as a fountain of pretension and claustrophobic despair, about Mark Millar as capitalist golem, about Iron Man as weaponized capitalist golem, about drones as actual weaponized capitalist golems, about interchangeable gestures as quote unquote character development, and about the miming of transcendence.
It’s hard to contain myself. There are multitudes. There might be more than one essay. It might be a whole damn series.
Victor? Consider this my pitch.