Harry Potter not exactly an epic, mythological type of hero, and I think that is what Lark is referring to. J.K. Rowling actively rebelled against this (though that's another story).
I disagree that a robustly masculine heroism is dead in film; Gladiator is a good example in this generation. Most epic fantasy and historic type films focus on an inspirational warrior so I'm sure others here can cite examples.
The OP raises a valid question. One's response will be influenced by one's definition of "hero", as well as one's history of entertainment-watching. The traditional or archetypal hero is almost by definition outside the norm. He (or less often, she) is heroic by virtue of what sets him apart from the rest of society and makes him not normal: special abilities, resources, different perspective, even just the drive to do something about a bad situation.
If we don't see many heroes like this any more, perhaps it is in response to a desire for heroes to be more like us. Harry Potter is a good fictional example. He is so ordinary, at least in his own fantasy context, that I cannot really think of him as a hero, but simply as the protagonist. He is the Everyman, placed in exceptional circumstances and expected to rise to the challenge, or at least try his best.
We see this in the frequent use of the word "hero" nowadays to highlight and commend real-life acts of bravery, selflessness, or simply social contribution. If you save a life, help the disabled rebuild their lives, keep kids from drugs/gangs, risk your life treating Ebola patients, or a whole gamut of other things, the media will quickly label you a hero. There are even some grants and awards with "hero" in the title. Does this demean the idea of a hero? Does it make the point that everyone is capable of heroism, and encourage us all to find the hero within? Something more (or less)?
Originally Posted by Kullervo
Depends on your target audience. However as film involves the imagination and a suspension of disbelief. I would venture that the exceptional, aspirational characters are more moving.
That is highly subjective and individual. I find the traditional, larger-than-life heroes to be too unrelatable for aspiration. They are out of my league. I am personally more moved by the internal struggles of more down-to-earth heroes, often antiheroes in the literary sense. They make for more enjoyable reading/viewing, plus I feel I can learn more from their example.
Hope is the denial of reality. It is the carrot dangled before the draft horse to keep him plodding along in a vain attempt to reach it. We should remove the carrot and walk forward with our eyes open. -- Raistlin Majere
I don't know if Gladiator counts per se, Maximus is a hodgepodge -- yes, masculine and robust, but he's an everyman, a war hero who doesn't want to fight or rule and whose only goal is to return home to be with his wife and children and till the soil with his hands.... well, until they are taken, so now he seeks to avenge them. Which now puts him on the same level as Harry Potter (everyman) or Batman (avenger of evil).
Let's face it, "pure" heroes who just tend to do things because they are heroic and "good" are the stuff of either early comics (Superman), or mythology (Hercules and Perseus), or children's cartoons (because they require no characterisation, they just do things "because they are good"). Doc Savage. Flash Gordon. etc.
As far as whether the "good" guy who is just good (and obviously good) because he is good and because he has power is going to make a comeback or not.... everything is cyclic in nature. So if there is a hole in the cultural mythos long enough, eventually something will fill it; if the culture doesn't experience its absence as a loss, then the hole will not be filled until it is. This is typically how all paradigm shifts work. Batman and other dark heroes only sprang up because of flaws in the reigning zeitgeist of the time, they were bringing an ignored truth to the table or righting the flawed perceptions of the time.
"Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"
“Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft