Hollywood is largely responsible for the popularity of ninjas in the west. While there were always stories and legends about these
mysterious figures, it took Hollywood to transform these legends into living and breathing myths that inspire fear and awe. Most people would never hear about the ninja way if it wasn’t for movies that feature these shadowy characters.
In the beginning, ninjas were considered to be the “bad guys” in martial arts films. They went against the “hero” and struck without warning. Audiences perceived them to be scary and a fear of the unknown fueled this line of thinking. However, as is natural, the evolution of the “anti-hero” meant that Hollywood needed to take the ninja and make them a good character.
Instead of being the bad guy trapped in shadows, Hollywood began focusing on the noble aspects of the ninja. Their discipline and their path to enlightenment became the story, not the sneak attacks. Instead of relegating ninjas to the part of the bad guy, suddenly we had them as the hero. Thanks in a large part to actors like Bruce Lee, ninjas became more acceptable. Other actors like Jackie Chan, Steven Segal and others have transformed the ninja into the male lead instead of relegating him to the shadows.
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