What is considered to be the manly movie is not just some action-packed ridiculous scenario rubbish full of muscles and steroids, but a piece of art that involves a harsh story packed with realistic dangers, and challenges that create real adrenalin rushes. In those movies, the stuntmen are always a very important part, and not rarely the actors themselves are very able to do both physically and mentally demanding and nasty scenes.
There are several types of movies that can be really counted among the precursors of the manly movies, and history proves that the first movies of this type were definitely the westerns. History of the 19th century American west frontier was pretty harsh, and chaotic, so the movies have tried to recreate and present those facts, and in that they have been partially successful.
Many remember the famous Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach’s great roles in the „Good bad and ugly“, which is probably the oldest among any 50 Must See Movies list. That one proved that both the good, the bad, and the really ugly guys were inclined to be extremely manly and determined figures in that particular problematic time period.
So the first ones were at the same time the historical ones, there is no doubt that the western is given a birth of the first manly movie. But the real manly culture started with first great martial arts movies of the Bruce Lee in the late 60’s, and also in the beginning of the 70’s. The view shifted from the wild west legacy to those the far east, and the influx of that new energy completely changed the action movies, even those from the James Bond series.
Another type of influence became not only those close combat demonstrations, expensive stunts, and explosions but also a more complex, realistic and really hardcore parts of scenarios, like the ones from the famous Francis Ford Coppola movie „The Godfather“. A complicated, emotional, and meaningful story about the mafia, that’s yet packed with danger, action and guts, well that paved a clear way for the true manly movies.
Well, after that the great change occurred even among some drama movies and thrillers, and the main example of this is the „Rocky“. Considered to be a cornerstone of all manly movies, this first Sylvester Stallone’s blockbuster from the mid 70’s brings it to the next level of manliness.
The great story about the life struggle of a boxer was not when expected to be a major success, but exactly the opposite impact was made, mainly because of the massive empathy that it creates among the audiences, besides some very rough and violent parts. Every aspect of that movie is considered to be manly enough. Overall, the 70’s are a key decade here, and during that time some key movies about war, mafia, martial arts, and violence overall, were made.
But, when it is up to some themes and scenes about violence in all sorts of manly movies, it is well-known that their main expansion happened to be during the 80’s. That decade gave rise to both real and fake manly movies. You would ask again, what is a real manly movie? Well, bigger production and larger offer than before included some childish and very unrealistic movies.
A very loose definition of the good manly movie is one that it is one that includes a fit and very manly main actor, but that is far from the real truth. Manliest Movies List is not a true one if it does not involve at least one Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris or an Arnold Schwarzenegger, but those actors played in many movies that are considered to be manly just because of their appearance.
In the 80’s the every aspect and the subgenre of the action movies has entered some new dimensions, and also computer simulation entered the world of movies, but that alone didn’t make both unmanly and manly ones more manly. On the contrary, the most important qualities that were needed for the creation of some hardcore stuff were on the decrease comparing to the increase of the overall things that were created since then.
What isn’t a manly movie
Movies for the children are not manly at all, and also those comedy movies, but there are some exceptions even here, and that is a Jackie Chan action/comedy which can be counted as a partially manly movie because the actor did entire very demanding stunts on the set himself.
Other kinds of movies who are clearly not parts of this category are those dramas, thrillers, and horrors that are packed with forms of violence where there is no clear show of brute force or manly behavior. Sci-fi ones are yet another big question because some of them can be counted as manly, but their themes are often not realistic enough to be fully counted as such.
Mostly action and some thriller movies are considered to be manly ones, but those of the elements of sci-fi, horror and even drama are not entirely excluded. Of course, there are always some good and bad movies, but the real ones are those who represent some real testosterone and adrenaline-packed scenes. Some of those movies included the death of an actor during filming, like the Brandon Lee’s death in „The Crow“, or after filming, like the 2pac’s violent death after his similar one in the movie „The Bullet“.
A nice movie of any genre that has scenes that require many strong and fit stunts that can bring real harm for the actor or a stuntman could be considered to be manly, but there also must be some real part of their scenario and overall appearance that is clearly a theme that includes those hardships that only alpha males can completely overcome. The more exclusive definition also points out that some healthy amount of realism must be presented to the audience.
Related: Need a manly fix? Check out our Best Guy Movies, 10 Awesome Manly Films