Having wondered aloud on when "wish fulfillment" as a trope is acceptable (re: Isaac's post), one of the people I knew would have some weigh-in (RVCBard) does exactly that:
Rather than talk about male fantasy wish fulfillment blah blah blah, I'm going to lay out a scenario that would have me leave the theatre feeling like I saw something truly worthwhile. James would see where this is going.For about the first half, the movie will be this trope. But just at the moment when the female lead would fall for the male lead's roguish charm, things will take a different turn and start going wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.
What follows are a series of movie clips that basically back up the point. Trope-reversal is a good way to cut against a trope. To reverse this "wish fulfillment" trope probably still gets a lot of mileage, because the weight is pretty pro-trope.
For instance, one of the things I like about the movie Once is that it cuts pretty strongly against the "running at the airport" "I decided not to get on the plane" romantic climax that somehow is deeply embedded in our culture.
But many tropes are pretty strongly represented in both ways. I think the "man using power judiciously for good (Iron Man)" and "man using power but is corrupted absolutely (basically any villain in Iron Man)" are both out there in the air-waves.
So how do you handle an alluring, wish-fulfilling trope in a critical way?