Right off the bat, this feels an odd comparison to draw for this Outsider. Sure, on the surface it works: both men are incredibly famous for their work in Westerns. Yet as individuals and their roles in Hollywood at large – they could not be more different.
But that’s just one man’s opinion! As a fellow Yellowstone fan, however, I do think it’s fair to say Costner’s John Dutton is having a considerable impact on American pop culture today – much in the same way John Wayne did in his heyday.
Perhaps this, then, is what has led to an active discussion over on Reddit’s Yellowstone board between passionate fans. There, Redditor deepinterwebz jumpstarts the conversation with: “I see Kevin Costner as America’s modern day John Wayne. He embodies America’s true cowboy spirit as Wayne did.”
Which, again, on the surface kind of works. The top comment picks up on some of the same hiccups mentioned earlier, though, as u/hitch_in_my_gitalong replies: “Leaving out their actual personalities, John Wayne generally played good guy roles. John Dutton wants something that’s honorable and good but is crooked in how he goes about it.”
True, yet both were products of their time. In this discussion, fans seem to be whisking all of Wayne’s iconic cowboy roles into one fictional cowboy of a man – which was largely The Duke’s public persona. Wayne always wanted to play good guys, sure (except, you know, that one time he played Genghis Khan in one of the worst missteps in Hollywood history), but many of his characters were just as “crooked” as Costner’s Dutton for their time. Cinema simply wasn’t as breakneck and gory in the golden age. Things were… Much different. Something like Yellowstone would be unfathomable to audiences of the mid-20th century.
‘Yellowstone’ Fans on ‘Hollywood’s Version of a Cowboy’
To this end, Redditor DemenicHand believes “it would probably be better to compare Rock “The Dwayne” Johnson’s persona to John Wayne, instead of [Costner].”
An interesting take! Honestly, Johnson certainly has a much more similar bravado to Wayne about him that Costner. Wayne was “larger than life,” as is Johnson. Costner, however, is far closer to that actual “cowboy spirit” of less showmanship – more action.
Yet Redditor johnnykoxville (not to be confused with the actual Jackass star) disagrees that either could ever be considered the “True cowboy spirit,” saying “It’s so far off in reality.”
Eh… I Disagree. From someone who has two literal cowboys for great uncles, both men remind me a lot of Kevin Costner and a little of John Wayne. So take that for what you will, Yellowstone fans.
As Redditor AnnaNonna says, “John Wayne embodied Hollywood’s version of a cowboy.”