Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

It's Time To Recognize Gerard Butler As The Great Modern Action Star He Is

Early in his career, the cinematic artform known as Gerard Butler made a conscious effort to diversify his roles. Movies like "One More Kiss," "The Cherry Orchard," and "Dracula 2000" showed that he was capable of handling any genre, and they aren't the only titles in the Scottish actor's oeuvre that exemplify his range. That said, Butler found real success in Hollywood when he realized that he was born to play grizzled, trigger-happy, sword-wielding juggernauts.

Released in 2006, Zack Snyder's "300" catapulted Gerard Butler to global superstardom. The CGI-heavy adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel casts the Scottish actor as Leonidas, King of Sparta, and pits his small army of soldiers against swarms of Persian invaders. "300" sees a muscular Butler slay his way through enemies and scream about Sparta in his traditional accent, proving that historical accuracy has never been Hollywood's strongest quality. Still, the movie is a lot of fun.

While he dabbled in the odd romantic comedy afterward, Butler further established himself as a bona fide action star, and he's been content working in the genre ever since. In recent years, however, Butler has specialized in making the types of action movies we don't see enough of these days. While it's true that Butler is the king of so-bad-they're-good flicks, he deserves credit for being the great modern action star he is.

Gerard Butler is feeding an underserved niche

Robert Downey Jr. is one of the biggest actors on the planet, but he's also a man of taste. While speaking to Uproxx, Gerard Butler revealed that the "Iron Man" star emailed him to praise the "Has Fallen" franchise. "We need more of these movies," Downey Jr. wrote, while also noting that action movies of their ilk elicit cheers and passion from audience members. Downey Jr. makes a valid point.

The "Has Fallen" movies — "Olympus Has Fallen," "London Has Fallen," and "Angel Has Fallen" — portray Butler as a United States Secret Service Agent who shoots and stabs his way through terrorists and rogues. They're throwbacks to the mindless, jingoistic, and somewhat offensive action fare that dominated theaters in the '80s and '90s — think Chuck Norris flicks, "Rambo" sequels, and other movies about macho one-man armies doing what they do best. Similarly, movies such as "Plane," "Den of Thieves," and "Hunter Killer" see Butler play pilots, cops, and soldiers who are tasked with thwarting terrorist attacks and heists. High body counts and cheesy one-liners are a given, and the bad guys are always unabashedly villainous.

Granted, there are other modern action stars who are carrying the torch for movies of this nature — Scott Adkins and Michael Jai White, to name a couple. However, Butler is one of the few actors whose films regularly receive impressive budgets and worldwide theatrical distribution. The "Has Fallen" franchise has grossed over $500 million as of this writing, indicating that there's an audience that appreciates old-school machismo cinema. 

Gerard Butler ain't no superhero

Gerard Butler has no interest in playing superheroes for DC and Marvel. As he told IGN, he'd rather create original characters and build franchises around them instead. Maybe the rugged Scotsman would change his tune if he was offered the chance to play an original spandex crusader (and let's not forget that "300" is a comic book adaptation). For now, though, he's happy playing macho meatheads and heroic everymen.

Butler's mentality is admirable. The world needs more mainstream action movies that aren't connected to Marvel, DC, "Mission: Impossible," and the "Fast and Furious" saga. While Butler's action flicks are full of genre cliches and adhere to familiar formulas, they aren't concerned with milking current trends. Despite their throwback elements, these movies are quite refreshing in the current blockbuster landscape.

Most action movie fans would probably love to see Butler tackle a Marvel project or join the "Fast and Furious" family, but it's even better that he's focused on his own entities. As a result, he's given us Mike Banning, an original character who deserves to sit at the table with pop culture icons like John Rambo, John McClane, Ethan Hunt, James Bond, and every superhero.

Mother Nature can't even stop Gerard Butler

There's more to Gerard Butler's arsenal than the merciless dispatching of bad guys; he's also humankind's last line of defense in the battle with Mother Nature (when it comes to Hollywood blockbusters anyway). Disaster movies offer similar thrills to traditional action flicks, albeit with meteors and extreme weather replacing ruthless killers. This is another crowd-pleasing niche that Butler has perfected in recent years.

Whether it's starring in the enjoyably ridiculous "Geostorm" or critically acclaimed "Greenland," Butler has demonstrated a knack for playing engineers and family men who find themselves at odds with our planet's appetite for causing destruction. Everyone knows what they're getting with a disaster opus, but what's not to love?

Disaster films date back to the earliest days of cinema, the oldest being 1901's "Fire" (per No Film School). That's because the best examples of these movies provide mindless, escapist fun and scratch a particular itch for moviegoers. As is the case with his throwback actioners, Butler's disaster movies satiate moviegoers' desire for timeless old-school thrills and high-stakes scenarios. He knows what his fans want to see, and he's more than happy to cater to their needs. In short, Butler is comfortable being the king of big-budget B movies, and that's refreshing to see.