The Impact of 9/11 on Hollywood Movies


The 9/11 terror attack in America was a turning point in its fight against terrorism. It impacted the entire American psychology, lifestyle, and culture and it is said that America was not the same ever after. Hollywood movies were not left untouched by this attack. A new era of movies was ushered post these terror attacks. These movies depicted highly emotional responses to the terrorist attacks, the horror, and grief of the victims and their families, the outrage against the terrorists, vengeance for revenge from the perpetrators, and chaos related to further perceived attacks of similar nature. 9/11 attacks promoted a new kind of movie culture and popularized the superhero, combat, sci-fi, and thriller movie genres. These movies had a common theme of depicting the intensity and fear of terrorist attacks and future wars. The major influence of 9/11 attacks on the Hollywood movies are as follows:

Lack of Movies on 9/11

Hollywood played an active role in mobilizing public opinion in America during the World War II. There were many movies made on the theme after the Pearl Harbor bombing. However, a decade after the 9/11 attack also, Hollywood was not sure how to tackle the terrorist attacks and portray it in a movie. In fact, the initial response of Hollywood was to stay away from anything that might remind the audience about the horrific attacks. Filmmakers who attempted to make such movies were labeled as offensive. Movies were not made depicting the direct 9/11 attacks and they had to be veiled behind space and alien attacks.

The Comeback of Superhero Movies

The superhero movies made a big-time comeback after the 9/11 attacks. It is interesting to note that during the decade before the attacks, not a single superhero movie made it to the number one position on the box office. Eight months after the attacks, the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man opened and became a huge blockbuster. New superheroes like Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Fantastic Four etc. emerged and became popular with the moviegoers. The movie enthusiasts suddenly were connecting better with superhero movies and the genre has become an instant hit since then. 

America First

Patriotism has always been a popular movie theme in America. The audience always develops a connection with such movies. This level of patriotism increased further after the 9/11 attacks. Movies were made where America was depicted to be under threat and attack from evil forces and how it was able to ward this off through the display of heroism and bravery.

Brave Characters

The 9/11 attacks changed the people’s perspective towards police, firefighters, rescue workers etc. They became highly respected by the people and the same was also adapted in the movies. Movies and TV shows were made on such people which became popular with the American audience.

The 9/11 terror attacks significantly impacted the psychology of filmmaking in Hollywood. Movies with a heroic and patriotic backdrop were made and found an instant audience. It would not be wrong to say that the 9/11 attacks entered the bloodstream of Hollywood.