Vin Diesel And The Curious Case Of The Action Star EGOT

This past weekend, we saw history being made. We watched in awe as Vin Diesel achieved the action-star equivalent of an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony). With the box office success of xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage, Diesel is the first Hollywood action star to be the face of three action movie franchises simultaneously!

In the past, action stars rarely got locked in to more than one action franchise at a time because they were franchises unto themselves. The closest that anyone has come would be Sylvester Stallone, who made Rocky Balboa, Rambo and The Expendables in the span of five years. Sadly, Rambo isn't much of a franchise in the 21st century and Rocky movies just seem to happen organically these days (not exactly a bad thing).

Van Damme, Seagal, Willis and Schwarzenegger all had about one franchise apiece while Statham couldn't sustain more than two at a time (The Transporter and Crank were short-lived but fun while they lasted).

Diesel's three franchises all kicked off back in the early 2000s when the action landscape was MUCH different. At one point in the mid 2000s, he seemed to have abandoned all three franchises entirely in favor of making original films. After a string if disasters (remember Babylon A.D.?) and one marginal success (never forget The Pacifier), he went back to the well and found great success.

At this point, Diesel can just make xXx, Riddick and The Fast And The Furious movies in rotation for the next decade of his life. He won't need to make an original movie again until he's nearly 60! And that's actually pretty disappointing.

For all its flaws, The Last Witch Hunter had a lot of dorky charm. Its plot, characters and overly complicated lore feel like the product of Diesel marathoning pen and paper RPGs. It was the kind of movie that I, Frankenstein wishes it was. Vin Diesel, the producer, is a unique voice in Hollywood. While most others are working to appropriate nerd culture for financial gain, Diesel is a legit nerd making legitimately nerdy choices.

With the modern film industry's intense reliance on the safety of franchises, we can expect Diesel's accomplishment to be overshadowed soon enough. At this point, actors serve as window dressing for the franchise and don't necessarily find much success outside of it (just as the cast of The Avengers).

If Vin Diesel decides to cycle between his three big franchises for awhile, more power to him; he's earned it. But if he cares to indulge in his nerdy druthers from time to time, that'd just be swell.


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