One of the things about Aquaman that struck me was how he approached love-interest Mera. Based on movies that came out since the beginning of Hollywood, and the casting of the manliest man like Jason Momoa, we would have expected the hero to surely sweep the woman off her feet and sweep her into a kiss.
But instead, he treats with the utmost respect and never makes a move on her until she takes the initiative to kiss him. This, coming from the man who also played Khal Drogo.
In the show Game of Thrones, in the very first episode, the showmakers try to be edgy and shock the audience with scenes of Khal Drogo raping his newly wed wife. Well it’s slightly debatable whether it is technically rape since it is implied that Dany gave him consent by the act of marrying him. But the point is, he had sex with his wife when she was absolutely not ready for it yet, and definitely did not enjoy the act yet. (This is in contrast from the book, in which he went out of his way to obtain clear and verbal consent, but the book is different from movies and shows and here I’m focusing on the depictions in visual media.)
But this doesn’t make Drogo a bad guy. In fact, the show never has us rooting against him. He is good leader to his people, and even a pretty good husband to Dany. He treated her the way he did when it came to sex because those were the norms of where and when he came from.
Khal Drogo is kind of like an extreme depiction of how manly men treated their women throughout Hollywood’s history. We all can name a bunch of movies where the man just grabs a woman and kisses her without asking. Here is a New York Times article and a YouTube video essay on that topic. In the context of when and when those films were made, this wasn’t viewed in a negative light. That was how people thought men romanced women back then.
But things are changing now, and probably due to the awareness the #MeToo movement has drawn to the sexual harassment situation. I’m not here to discuss the movement, but rather make an observation that our film heroes have now changed. The portrayal of masculinity is different now. Now, the heroes are the ones who are respectful of their ladies and letting them have their agency instead of swooping them off their feet and stripping away their agency. This, I believe, is certainly a step in a positive direction.