Opening in theaters this weekend, The Expendables is literally a blast from the past saluting the character and personality of the 80’s and 90’s action film genre. The cast includes action film hall of famers like Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke and Jet Li who cut their teeth reciting one-liners and walking in slow-motion away from explosions.
While the stars of The Expendables have retained their appeal, today’s action stars have a much different profile. As The Expendables blows up the box office, we wondered, has the action star category really changed that much or are today’s actors not kicking in enough teeth?
Recent E-Score Celebrity reports show that in addition to high current awareness and appeal, Stallone, Willis, Lundgren, Rourke and Li all share an above category average score in Aggressive, reaching 19%.
Looking at a few of today’s action stars revealed some stark differences in the perception of their attributes. The action/adventure film actor category average Aggressive score came in at only 7%. One of Hollywood biggest action stars Will Smith earns an Aggressive score of only 6%. The occasional international spy and jet fighter pilot Tom Cruise Aggressive score is 11%. The soon to be shield bashing Captain America Chris Evans’ score is 7% and the Bourne franchise’s star assassin Matt Damon scored a tame 5%.
Where aggressiveness was a cornerstone of the bygone action star, today’s stars seemingly belong in the Peace Corps. In the hope of broadening their careers male stars may avoid pigeonholing themselves as only an action star by taking a wide range of roles from rom-com leads to face busting heroes. While the Stallones of the world could be an artifact of the past, action stars may just be evolving into a kinder and gentler butt-kicker.