Hollywood has never found real replacements for the macho-men stars who dominated the action genre in the ’80s and ’90s.
These days, action franchises tend to be built around brand-name characters — “Batman,” “Superman,” “Spider-Man” — with assorted actors taking over the roles almost interchangeably.
This past summer’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” was a perfect example, with Andrew Garfield taking the Spidey role from Tobey Maguire.
Audiences didn’t care; the film still earned $262 million domestically. The actors, fine as they may be, don’t matter; the role matters.
Back in their heyday, and even now, the roles didn’t matter for Schwarzenegger or Stallone or Willis. The star mattered. It was a Schwarzenegger movie. It still is.
Even the actor who’s come closest to duplicating the action actors success of yore — Robert Downey Jr., 47, who has both the “Iron Man” and “Sherlock Holmes” franchises — isn’t in the same class as the old boys. “Iron Man” is an Iron Man movie, not a Robert Downey Jr. movie. As much as he’s shined in the role, someone else could come along and do it.
No one else is going to come along and be Rocky or Rambo or John McClane or the freaking Terminator.
And it’s not just the 80’s and 90’s that had major action heroes starring in movies. John Wayne and Clint Eastwood come to mind as action heroes from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s who were major box office draws.
Oh, by the way, did someone mention The Duke? This interview (audio only) of John Wayne describing liberals is a must hear.