Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) is forced to land by the DEA in the 1980s-set ‘American Made,’ directed by Doug Liman.
Universal Pictures

Pop culture hasn’t fallen out of love with anti-heroes yet, but interest seems to be waning in favor of more traditional good guys and girls.

Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was summer’s biggest hit ($412 million), and the clown-busting kids of It now have the highest-grossing horror flick of all time ($266 million). The two movies happen to be doing boffo business at a time when the news is filled with natural disasters, rampant negativity and a renewed threat of nuclear war. 

“Heroes are cool again. We’ve missed them for a while,” comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian says. “We certainly do have enough villains in the world.”

Watching a really intense horror film or a female-led blockbuster with purer expressions of heroism “feels good because you’re not getting a lot of that in real life,” he adds.

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American Made (in theaters Friday) might be a good litmus test for how much the tide has turned. The film, set in the 1980s, stars Tom Cruise as Barry Seal, a real TWA pilot recruited by the CIA who gets involved in gunrunning and drug smuggling. 

If anybody can sell an imperfect dude, it’s Cruise: American Made has an impressive 88% approval rating on, and the movie already has made nearly $59 million internationally.

The actor’s anti-hero roles later in his career (Jack Reacher, The Mummy) are as good a look for him as Top Gun’s Maverick was back in the day, Uproxx senior entertainment writer Mike Ryan says. In American Made, “he’s not playing a bad guy, really. But he is playing a guy who gets himself mixed up with a lot of bad folks and finds himself doing bad things — and always with that Tom Cruise smile. He’s likable. We can’t help it.”

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Morally questionable anti-heroes have…