The Adventures of the Bland Male Protagonist

I’ve already written a bit about some of my qualms with tropes and stereotypes of female protagonists in the past. However, I haven’t spent any time to talk about perhaps one of the biggest tropes among male protagonists that irks me: the boring hero.

What do I mean by the boring hero? I mean the guy who is in all the action movies and shows that has the same boring and bland personality and backstory, who always becomes the hero and saves the day. He has nothing unique to offer the viewer except that he’s insanely muscular and attractive (but then that becomes a bit unoriginal when that’s how they all look), and is usually just a gritty tough macho guy. He kicks ass and gets the girl, although he doesn’t really provide anything to make the movie or show worth watching.

What makes them stand out to me even more is that usually they are the least interesting thing about the movie. They are the stars of action movies and shows, the ones who keep the story going, and yet everything around them is infinitely more interesting than them. Their personality is like a black hole-they suck the life out of the movie. Literally.

The Boring Hero is seriously one-dimensional; he has no unique background, and he has no character development as the story goes on. Even the female love interest is more interesting, and she has almost the same cookie-cutter personality as the male protagonist. He never gets fleshed out, which drags what might have been an otherwise good movie or TV show down hard.

The Boring Hero doesn’t provide anything of real value to the movie. They seem to stay in place while the story goes around them, despite being the central focus. And they always have that one grand “epiphany” moment, that changes their course and turns them into a hero, with cool music following in the background. But the epiphany is a quick, fleeting moment that almost never appears again. It’s not even a real epiphany, but rather him deciding to act in the typical heroic manner.

The sad part is, this trope even appears in amazing films. Films such as Avatar have been able to hide the fact that the main protagonist is insanely bland and boring through the amazing visuals and characters around them. But that doesn’t change the fact that the main protagonist is so generic that he just becomes another character that the viewer forgets within a week.

Is this trope dying out? No. It’s still strong and present, coming out in films as recent as Solo. Each time the boring hero makes an appearance, there is always something (very, very small) that is supposed to mark them as insanely unique and deep characters, despite them still being bland and generic. A lot of action films and shows want to try and promote themselves as “unique” and “noteworthy”, without putting any effort to actually flesh out their protagonists, particularly the males. It’s a trope that’s gotten old years ago, and definitely needs to kick the bucket.

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