A new poster for Stranger Things teases the adventures of Police Chief Jim Hopper, while offering a tip of the hat to the classic ’80s Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie The Running Man. Stranger Things is set to return to Netflix in October, and the second season promises to be bigger and crazier than Season 1, and just as stuffed with ’80s nostalgia.
Filled with references to everything from Star Wars to D&D to Spielberg to Stephen King, Stranger Things season 1 was like a big juicy hunk of red meat for those who can’t get enough of everything ’80s-related. Ultimately, the show rose above its obvious influences to stand on its own as a piece of storytelling, but hitting the ’80s nostalgia button hard and often was nevertheless a big part of why it caught on. The series’ ongoing promotional campaign demonstrates that the ’80s callbacks are not going to let up anytime soon.
As part of its #StrangerThursdays campaign, the Stranger Things Twitter account tweeted an image based on the iconic poster for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ’80s flick The Running Man that casts Jim Hopper as an action hero (see below). This follows the release of Stranger Things‘ homage to A Nightmare on Elm Street with a previously-released poster. What’s next, Howard the Duck? Tic-Tac-Dough? Airwolf?
Released in 1987, the futuristic dystopian sci-fi flick The Running Man starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as a wrongly-convicted man forced to compete in a TV game show pitting a group of condemned prisoners against each other in a battle to the death. Significantly cheesier than the Stephen King story that inspired it, The Running Man turned out to be a lesser entry in the Arnold oeuvre, offering a few silly thrills but little in the way of meaty social commentary or intriguing science fiction world-building.
What does Stranger Things have in common with the goofy post-apocalyptic schlock of The Running Man? Almost nothing. Still, The Running Man did come out in the ’80s and it is a semi-well-remembered artifact of the pop culture of the time, so that makes it perfect fodder for a Stranger Things callback.
There are some who would argue that Stranger Things season 1 was actually hurt by its devotion to nostalgia; that the show would have benefited had the Duffer Brothers not flaunted their influences so hard and just let the story play out more as its own thing. It doesn’t seem that season 2 will let up on the nostalgia angle, so it’s likely that complaint will come up again. For a lot of people though, Stranger Things strikes just the right balance between originality and homage. Most can agree that the compelling, well-written and well-acted characters are worth watching regardless of the show’s arguable stylistic or storytelling faults.
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