In one of its more thought-provoking articles of the semester, Entertainment Weekly, released an article about the fascination of Fast & Furious' continued success. It opened by noting that almost all of the major superheroes dominating today's box office are white collar and white. Though Superman and Spiderman are both an exception to the hypothesis, I would say that their less than white collar story doesn't seem that genuine. Clark Kent is (well first of all he's actually royalty from another planet, but on this earth he is) a farmer's son, but I remind myself that half of this country (particularly in the midwest) is very proud of being good ol' American farmers, so that doesn't really seem to count. Peter Parker, though struggling in New York City, does seem to have the eloquence and put-togetherness that suggests he would be something so much greater if he just a had a little money, and he's a genius. Movie Makers did a good job of making even their most under-privilaged white heroes very successful societal figures.
Then you have Fast & Furious, where the cast is "self-conciously blue collar, rooted in an automotive culture." Not a scientist or farmer in sight; just raw strength and a exceptional amount of non-white stars. According to EW, Fast Five grossed $626.1 Million, which is only a couple million dollars away from matching Iron Man 2's grossing return. So what does this movie have that allows it to contend with the big budget super-hero films??
EW says that the diverse cast plays a huge role in its like ability. Not in the way where the black friend popping up seems to be a diversity ploy (now viewing Don Cheadle in a new light as I write this). EW specifically says that the diversity seems "unplanned" which can be very relieving for an audience, who is very aware of every time producers try to pull out an intentional diversity move.
Another factor to its success: "its action is cheerfully old-school. No 3-D. No IMAX." According to the director, they were going for special effects that all seem real, which is sadly a rarity in Hollywood. All the action scenes seem to be, and aim to be relatively close to possible, if only someone had the guts to burst a car through an airplane wall as it crash lands.
Is this the end of superheroes? Where superheroes represented the inner outlaw in "upstanding citizens" like Bruce Wayne. The Fast franchise seems to be playing with the OUTER outlaw; the raw, unapologetic action in every man (and because of the cast's diversity, it does seem to be sending a message to EVERYONE). Now that I've read this article, I find myself thinking of superheroes so cynically. "Aw poor you, you are such an upstanding guy, no one understands the burden you have" it suddenly becomes the white man's burden in the worst way. Where as the Fast franchise seems so much more about action, change, taking things into your own hands.
I've never seen any of the movies, but now that I've grown so tired/irritated with movies like Iron Man, I might take a chance on it.