As is a tradition in my house, we watched Independence Day this Fourth of July. A fun movie, and I love that the military refused to help if Area 51 was mentioned, and it got me thinking on this kind of catastrophe movies in general.
Looking at some well known ones like Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and Armageddon, you can see a common theme (besides the near-destruction of humanity): dads & kids.
All three of these examples feature important father-child relationships.
In Independence Day we have David and his father, Russel and his three children, the President and his daughter, and Steve and his son (in-law).
In The Day After Tomorrow we have Jack Hall and his son, whose relationship is central to the story, as well as mention of several other family bonds.
And in Armageddon we have the strained-but-loving relationship between the hero, Harry Stamper, and his daughter, as well as the renewal of the relationship between the less-than-law-abiding Charles “Chick” Chapple and his son.
These are all powerful, positive father-child relationships, showing the ups and downs of parenthood and all the challenges men and their children can face (and I don’t just mean DOOM FROM SPACE!).
These are all wonderful themes to see in the media, most of these relationships seeming quite honest. They involve flawed individuals, but the faults of the fathers are not over-emphasized and they aren’t constantly being railed on by their wives (where present). But what I find so interesting is that these sort of characters seem to gravitate toward, or maybe even spring out of, these sorts of ‘end of the world’ hero films.
I don’t know why this is the case. Maybe it is just the movies appealing to a primarily male viewing base. Maybe it is done to sympathize the heroes.
Or maybe there is something about these kinds of do-or-die situations which, even when fictional, bring out the hero in men, so that they can put everything on the line to save the world and their family.
Maybe deep down we still have a sense that, when the clock is running down and everything is on the line, there is nothing a man cares about more than his children.
Food for thought.