Fly men to the moon: Ad Astra and the toxic masculinity of space films

Brad Pitt’s saga is the latest sci-fi film to fall back on stereotypes of heroic men and emotional womenBrad Pitt has not minced his words while talking about his new space epic Ad Astra, in which he plays a stoic, closed-off astronaut with daddy issues.

“What we were really digging at … was this definition of masculinity,” he recently stated, and lamented “having grown up in an era where we were taught to be strong, not show weakness, don’t be disrespected”.

That is bang on-message with #MeToo Hollywood, but Ad Astra also brings home how gendered the space film has always been.Factually minded films from this genre – The Right Stuff, Apollo 13, First Man – have had little choice but to reflect the male-dominated reality, but men have also dominated the more far-fetched solo missions and team efforts such as 2001 or Space Cowboys.

The latter hit the nail on the head.

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