As Dr. Marc O'Griofa, an aquanaut in the 2016 NEEMO 21 mission, conducted science on the seafloor, a frame I captured just screamed movie-style action hero poster to me. This wasn't something I'd been asked for as part of my mission support duties, but sometimes you get inspired and you just have to run with it.
We all know action hero posters when we see them -- like the Dark Knight, Ironman or Lara Croft. In fact, in almost any culture and even in a language you don't speak, you still know action hero posters. Even posters for movies that have action and heros, but aren't really "action hero" movies have the look -- like Gravity. So, what is this look that makes action hero posters obviously action hero posters? There are at least ten characteristics common in action hero posters. Master Photoshop artist Dom Quichotte identified eight in his FXray Superhero tutorial (with some of my elaboration):
1. The hero holds a weapon or a technical tool
2. Smoke, fog or clouds
3. Flying debris
5. Edge lighting on the hero
6. Dark buildings or other dark structure in the background and/or foreground
8. Fire or explosion
The last two, which Quichotte didn't mention (but are in his tutorial image) are:
9. Specialized clothing (e.g., superhero costume, technical/functional wear or other distinct wardrobe)
10. Hero either in action, giving defiant expression, or both
Most action hero posters don't have all of these, but they do have most of them, with defiance and/or action the one that seems universal. Click some of the links above: The Dark Knight has all but rain and holding something. Ironman has all but the buildings and the rain. Lara Croft is on the low side, but still has the weapon, edge light, specialized clothing and defiance, plus you could argue whether the ornate 3-D logo qualifies as dark structure, and the texture is similar to smoke. Gravity has more than Lara Croft: smoke, flying debris, edge lighting, dark foreground structure, explosion, specialized clothing and hero in action.
And that brings us to our action hero, Doctor Marc. No weapon or tool in hand (though clipped to his harness), but smoke and fog, sparks, edge lighting, fire, specialized clothing and he's clearly in action. Although I didn't manage the dark buildings, putting the moon behind him seemed a better fit anyway, considering he was doing research that will help us explore space. Although I did this just to stretch my creative legs, my action hero poster seemed well received by the NEEMO gang, and Marc seemed to get a kick out of it.
The real movie posters are, admittedly, better and more detailed, plus have the glamour, talent and stunning looks of Christian Bale, Robert Downey Jr., Angelina Jolie and Sandra Bullock. But, even with all that, my action hero poster has them all beat because it has the one thing they all lack (though Marc would try to deny it):