Recently, borne relentlessly on the tides of the YouTube recommendations algorithm, I watched the trailers for A Quiet Place 2, out today, and The Tomorrow War, out in late July. And I’m sorry, but I quite simply cannot handle another stern-jawed Action Dad, especially in science fiction.
The final trailer for A Quiet Place 2 flashes back to its world’s origins, opening on some cute Ben-and-Erin-Napier-approved Americana Main Street where a bearded, flannel-wearing John Krasinski is walking into a mom-and-pop store to buy produce. (What, they didn’t have a hardware store available?) Then the aliens attack and he must rescue his panicked daughter.
But it was The Tomorrow War that really killed me, because it’s literally just: Dad picks up gun again in defense of family, but replace John Wayne with, uh, Chris Pratt, for some reason.
Obviously, this is not a new genre; it goes all the way back to Steven Spielberg and the midcentury Western and probably even further. It encompasses practically all of the summer blockbuster canon: Independence Day, Signs, San Andreas, 2012, the Tom Cruise War of the Worlds, I could probably keep doing this forever so I’ll stop here. But the real origin point for this modern incarnation feels like Taken. It’s obviously not limited to science fiction, either, as I recently watched Matt Damon doing an absolutely terrible Southern? generically red state? does Matt Damon know the difference? not sure? accent as a dad who is trying to get his daughter out of a French prison, in the trailer for Stillwater, which is also coming soon.
But something about the Action Dad of science fiction in particular makes me roll my eyes to the point I fear they will fall out of my head. Listen, at one point in the trailer for The Tomorrow War, Chris Pratt literally looks somebody dead in the face and intones solemnly: “I’m just trying to save my daughter. If I have to save the world to save her, I’ll do it.” Man, what? That’s literally the only reason you can come up with to save the world? #GirlDads have gone too far, I’m sorry.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading a lot of modern space opera lately, and these days science fiction is full of women and very queer, and so this is much more glaring in comparison. Maybe it’s my deep love for the strong tradition of Action Moms in science fiction. Hello, Sarah Connor? ELLEN RIPLEY? Okay, okay, I guess that’s kind of what Emily Blunt is doing in A Quiet Place 2 since John Krasinski’s character is technically dead and only appears in flashbacks. Fine. Nevertheless. Please, let’s just pause the Action Dads for one minute.
But do note, Hollywood: I could absolutely get behind a stern-jawed science fiction Action Daddy. Different thing entirely. Do as many of those as you want.