You know the scene in the movie. Our hero has just left something flammable or explosive behind. He lights a cigar, enjoys a few puffs, then tosses the cigar over his shoulder. As he strides slowly and indifferently away, an explosion of flames marks his passing. Pretty cool, huh?
Countless movies have riffed on this cinematic image. Richard Rodriguez’s Desperado, for instance, springs instantly to my mind, but there are countless others. There is a certain cockiness on display in these scenes that develops the hero as a badass in such scenes that seems driven by a number of the details of such a performance. Part of it is the cool and frequently slow walk away from the scene, part of it is that the hero never looks back at the destruction that he is responsible for. As a result, we are left with an image of self-assured competence and professionalism on the part of the hero. He is so certain of the outcome of his actions that he doesn’t even bother to check on his success and has no fear that the flames will reach him. After all, he understands destruction so intimately and so consummately, why bother?