Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper (2014) tells the story of Chris Kyle. However, it also participates in an extensive cinematic traditional by making use of the soldier-hero archetype. The soldier-hero is a cinematic historical figure representing a member of the armed services whose characteristics reflect the war in which they participate. Beginning with World War I, and then moving through World War II, Vietnam, and Iraq, the soldier-hero archetype develops in an iterative manner with each respective war. Eastwood’s film, taking place in the Iraq War film genre, both fulfills and breaks away from conventions traditionally ascribed to Iraq War films. American Sniper’s use of and deviation from the Iraq War film genre conventions constructs a new form of the soldier-hero archetype in Chris Kyle’s character. The soldier-hero archetype is remade with each cinematic response to a conflict, with the Kyle-archetype being the latest in a long list of iterations.
Dr. Brett Holden
Dr. Phil Dickinson
Gillingham, Justin, "Evolutions of the Soldier Hero: Eastwood’s American Sniper and the Iraq War" (2018). Honors Projects. 334.