This week, we’re returning to the subject of Nerd Role Models, where we examine some of the most popular characters in pop-culture and what you can learn from them. After last week’s discussion about reclaiming what it means to be a man from the restrictions of toxic masculinity, it’s time to look at a movie that gives not just one but multiple examples of how to be a better man. And that movie is Pacific Rim.
One of the glories of Pacific Rim is that – like the oceans – it contains hidden depths. On the surface, it’s very much a big swinging dick movie about the joys of brawny alpha males using giant robots to punch monsters in the dick with cargo ships while BadAss McCoolName delivers the latest in a long line of writers’ attempts to write their own version of Shakespeare’s St. Crispin’s Day speech. But mostly giant robots beating on monsters.
But when you look even a little deeper, it’s almost gleefully subversive of action movie tropes. It’s the woman of color who gets the full Campbellian journey rather than Johnny Action Hero and the hot-shot maverick pilot who doesn’t play by the rules… doesn’t exist, actually. In fact, Pacific Rim is one of the best examples of what non-toxic masculinity looks like.