Special Features – Taking a Knee: Why do all superheroes land the same way?

Anghus Houvouras wants to know why all superheroes have taken to striking the same pose….

I’m not sure if this particular trend has ever been talked about at great length. It first became glaring while watching Edgar Wright’s test footage for Ant-Man. When the character emerges from the elevator and lands on the ground, he strikes a familiar pose. What I refer to ‘taking a knee’.

It seems like every superhero movie uses that same iconic pose. Whether you’re an alien from the planet krypton or a blind lawyer from Hell’s Kitchen, every hero seems unable to land squarely on two feet. They descend from above, plant that knee squarely on the ground before striking the most over used and iconic superhero movie pose ever created.

Sometimes it makes sense. Batman’s just a guy in a fancy suit. If he descends forty stories to the ground below, he might need a little flexing and bending to help absorb the impact. The same logic could probably be used with Iron Man. The guy’s wearing a heavy suit. When he comes down, he comes down hard. But couldn’t some heroes have figured this out? Especially the ones who can fly.

You would think a warrior like Thor would have learned how to stick the landing by now. And after a few years of flying around Earth with super powers, I would hope Superman could manage a soft landing. But no. We get the same pose from every superhero. Drop from above and take that knee. It’s like the superhero equivalent of Derrick Zoolander’s Magnum: the signature look to which every spandex wearing do-gooder aspires to nail.

The problem is, some of them just look sloppy. While a demi-God like Thor or The Incredible Hulk could get away with striking a pose for a few moments, ‘taking a knee’ certainly seems like it would be a detriment to someone who’s not bullet proof like Ant-Man or Daredevil. While you’re sitting there trying to look cool, the bad guys are gunning you down.

Like over-used cinematic devices, the sheer volume of superhero films and comic book adaptations has made ‘taking the knee’ glaringly obvious. The only film I can remember in recent memory where a superhero didn’t ‘take a knee’ is Superman Returns. Towards the end of the film when he lands on Lex Luthor’s kryptnoite covered island, he just plants himself to the ground and starts walking. And now that I think about it, I don’t recall Green Lantern taking a knee when landing. Well, if there’s two superhero films you don’t want to emulate, it’s Superman Returns and Green Lantern. Maybe ‘taking a knee’ isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Anghus Houvouras is a North Carolina based writer and filmmaker. His latest work, the graphic novel EXE: Executable File, is available from Lulu.com.

Around the Internet…

  • http://www.facebook.com/anthony.d.stokes.3 Anthony Donovan Stokes

    Common sense says falling from a huge height you wouldn't land on two feet that's just awkward

  • Nicole Seelig

    This pose looks like you&#39;d do both your knee and your &#39;landing hand&#39; in.<br />The more useful thing would be landing on all fours, and/or rolling to lessen the impact. But, you see, It Doesn&#39;t Look Cool!

  • Michael

    Meh, I wouldn&#39;t complain. I think it looks pretty badass, and has become one of those superhero staples that you can never get rid of, whether you want to or not, like capes and gloves and masks that wouldn&#39;t conceal diddly-squat in real life (Green Lantern, anyone?). I know if I was a superhero, I&#39;d land that way… XD

  • automouse13

    When you land you have to land cool. That&#39;s all!

  • http://twitter.com/danielstampe DanielStampe

    Wow I didn&#39;t even notice that until you mentioned it. That doesn&#39;t make sense at all. Wouldn&#39;t they break their knee landing like that? Hell I&#39;d rather land on my own two feet and break an ankle than land on a knee and blow that out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scalpod Mark Wallace

  • http://mycareersuicidenote.tumblr.com/ anghus

    That&#39;s a great video. Thanks for the link.

  • TryHarderNow

    Why do they all have heads? Same reason when people bend down they usually get down on 1 knee…

  • Mohit Kumar

    I am imagining Thor in that landing style!

  • Keepinitreal

    Lololol i was hoping someone else noticed this trend! I first noticed it in The Matrix.