The motorcycle has been a Hollywood icon for ages. It’s almost as if the bike is an actor themselves. Give a movie a motorcycle theme and you’re guaranteed a box office draw. Its appeal is wide and varied. The guys go for the speed, the girls go for the bad boy, and the kids go for the adventure. It’s been like this for years. The quality of the filmmaking may have changed; the technical ability of the riders may have changed, the special effects may have changed, but everyone loves a good action thriller with a two wheeled beast involved.
The most first and most memorable of these rolls of course is Marlon Brando as the lead in the outlaw biker classic, The Wild One. He made the leather jacket cool, the rider sexy and his dark brooding personality had all the women swooning. For it’s time, this movie, was edgy violent and pushed the limits of bad boy imagery.
But not every movie with a motorcycle in it is about gangs and beating up people. The starring roll has transformed from the hero Batcycle with a sidecar for
Robin to the sleek and powerful one of a kind Batpod in The Dark Knight . The role of the motorcycle always involves, thrills and spills, invariably a chase and of course a couple of wrecks along the way. But there are movies around the motorcycle that don’t involve high-speed chases and fast getaways.
One such great movie is The Motorcycle Diaries. This is the biopic of Che Guevara and his travels on a beat up old Norton 500 through Latin America. The movie builds on his relationship with travel, philosophy, friendship and of course the special relationship one develops with a motorcycle on long journeys. Without the motorcycle, there is no premise for this movie.
Often the motorcycle creates the identity of the movie. In Quadrophenia, the filmmaker has taken the regular vespa scooter and has turned it into an icon for a generation’s social commentary. A group of outcasts find brotherhood and friendship through their scooters and modifying them to stand out.
But above all, the motorcycle represents, sleek, sexy, fast independence. This goes hand in hand with the hero of the movies. Who can forget the role Tom Cruises motorcycle played in Mission Impossible II? The image of him making his great escape, speeding away on his sleek machine with a fireball in the background was splashed across every billboard, bus, construction wall and tv advertisement that whole summer.
Motorcycles and Hollywood is a match made in heaven. There will always new angles, tricks, special effects and super heroes, but the two wheeled iron steed is something that will always be in demand and a box office draw.