Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid takes a slightly different approach to masculinity in the West than your average Western. Instead of having our heroes be the typical macho outlaws, taking risks they know they can survive, the film portrays the heroes as being not so different from your average leads in an action comedy- bickering, almost clueless, and in much worse trouble than they can probably handle. One example of this is when Butch and Sundance are trying to escape from the lawmen looking to kill them, and they get stuck at the edge of a cliff. They have two choices- either attempt to shoot and kill the lawmen, or jump far down into the rapids below. Now, your typical Western hero might have either successfully shot and killed the pursuers, or dove down into the ravine, silently eluding those after instead. Here, the two heroes argue for a couple minutes, before Sundance makes a confession- he can’t swim. The two of them jump anyway, surviving, but as they’re pulled along the rapids, Sundance attempts to grab onto Butch, causing another argument between the two of them, even as they’re being pushed along a quickly moving ravine.
Another example of the film’s subversion of manliness comes when Butch and Sundance find the group of Bolivian bandits that have stolen the payroll from their now-former employer. When Sundance tries to make a plan to shoot the bandits, then Butch has a confession of his own- he’s never shot a man. The film gives us this great, supposedly dangerous myth of the West, and tells us that he’s never shot anyone. Not only that, the film has both men constantly learning new things about each other. Unlike someone such as The Man With No Name, both of the leads have full lives that they’re lead, something that always seems to surprise their partner in crime. It’s almost as though it’s gotten to the point they see each other as myths, and the realization that the other isn’t using their real name comes as a bit of shock. This big image of the manly myth is so powerful that one can forget that maybe one can forget what a normal, mortal human being they are.