The New Leading Man

Lately, something has changed. I know you feel it too: the hunky, perfectly coiffed, buff and charming leading man that we have known for so long has been replaced. The brilliant, lanky and mischievous Loki garners more attention than his ruggedly handsome, blonde brother. Sherlock (all three of them!), a brilliant man who uses (or fights, depending on when you’re watching) his addictions to cope with his all that genius smashed into his skull. Doctor Who, a brilliant goofball who says in so many episodes I’ve lost count, that he’s going to win because he’s clever. Da Vinci, who is brilliant and snarky but plagued, like Sherlock, with addictions of his own, hence the title of the show, Da vinci’s Demons. Tony Stark, who used his brilliance to save his narcissistic life and change his ways, becoming Iron Man. Ichabod Crane, the cheeky Revolutionary War hero back from the dead.

Robert-Downey-Jr-Tony-Stark-Iron-Man-3-Marvel-DisneyDid you notice that I used the word brilliant to describe each of those characters? Because they are, it’s their defining characteristic. They are brilliant, almost to the point where they are beyond our comprehension. They do wonderful things, and horrible things, and stupid things, and we watch as they break, over and over, under the weight of their guilts and their drugs and the failings they can’t sort through because they’re so damned brilliant, how, how did they fail?

It’s interesting that this is happening now. With all of our comic book movies at their height of popularity, I thought that that trend was different, separate. But I don’t think it is, not completely anyway. Some of our favorites are heroes with heartbreaking origin stories, stories where their downfall and their saving are products of their own brains. Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, for example. We are even injecting this into those characters that toe the line, like Loki.

I can’t deny that I like that the buff, Captain Hammer type hero (yes, where do you think this all started? Good ol’ Joss, always way ahead of the curve) is giving way to a hero who flexes a different kind of muscle. The brain muscle, not the other one. Perv. But I do feel the over-saturation point is nearing, and when that day comes, I am curious to see if we swing back in the other direction, or find a new type of hero to love collectively once more.

What are your thoughts on the new leading man? Am I on the money, or hopelessly moving in the wrong direction?









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