What accounts for the massive global popularity of action films and adventure literature? How do men and women respond to iconic screen stars such as Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve McQueen, and Charlton Heston? Action genres have been Hollywood's most profitable global exports for most of its history, their male heroes the subject of much fascination and derision. Bestselling literary thrillers, from The Hunt for Red October to Into Thin Air , have also contributed markedly to popular understandings of male activity. Action Figures takes stock of action narratives' many appeals and recognizes how contemporary crises of gender identity manifest themselves in popular commercial texts.