Walking Tall: Appreciating the ‘Power Walk’ Trope in Film & TV


The ‘Power Walk’ as become something of a ubiquitous set piece scene in TV and the movies. It’s typically a wide shot of the main cast, shoulder to shoulder, suited up for battle and looking cool/determined/fierce as they walk towards the camera, often in slow motion. It may also just be the main protagonist, or sometimes the main hero is later joined by other main players in the cast.


Typically shot from a slightly lower than normal angle to add stature to the characters in the show, extra power can be gained from a dramatic backdrop, especially flames or explosions. The walk often continues until the characters are out of frame, and is often followed by an ‘Act Break’. Sometimes (especially when used in the opening credits) it’s called a ‘Hero Shot’ (although there can be other types of hero shots — e.g. a shot from a low angle to make a character look larger than life). This can be combined with an Unflinching Walk for extra badassitude. If they’re standing still, it’s the V-Formation Team Shot. Commonly used as an intro shot of an ensemble cast in TV dramas



Why do these shots work so effectively? Why do they cause the hairs on the back of your neck moments, rousing the audience to pump their fists and shout ‘hell yeah!’? They can sometimes be joyful, alternatively a lull before the violent action starts (see some examples below*).


A few of my favorites include the terrific end credits of Buckaroo Banzai (1984) and the homage paid to them in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004). Actor Jeff Goldblum appears in both by the way:



Buckaroo Banzai end titles (credits) (good quality)


David Bowie - Queen Bitch from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou end credits

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou



wild bunch the walk

The Wild Bunch (1969)


Reservoir Dogs Intro - Little Green Bag

Reservoir Dogs (1992)


Kelly's Heroes | "Showdown with a Tiger"

Kelly’s Heroes (1979)

There’s also ample examples in more recent cinema offerings.

DeadPool walking scene and Super Hero landing DMX

More recently: Deadpool


Captain America | Captain brings back soldiers from Hydra Base

Captain America: First Avenger



The crappier ones which include Armageddon and 300.


And here are a couple of subversions I wanted to add:


Hot Rod Riot Scene (John Farnham - You're The Voice)

Hot Rod (2008) This one ends in a street riot.


Warm Bodies - Badass walking scene

Warm Bodies (2013) Zombie movie with Nicholas Hoult

And here’s a great compilation of 50 movies that use this common trope:

Slow motion walking compilation




Did I leave any out?

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Stephen Arnell

Culture Comment Content Provider. Portrait courtesy of artist Darren Coffield. 'Non satis me tempo'