What is a Steampunk Western?

 Welcome to this article about Western Steampunk, or Cattlepunk. Is it a derivative or a separate genre? It is hard to say, as many retrofuturistic genres are mixed and influenced by each other. But do you already know the codes and the aesthetics of these universes?


retro futuristic western


The Steampunk style officially appeared in 1987. It generally combines the reflection of the world of the past with contradictory elements of the future. Steam technology is often omnipresent, replacing all other technology and surpassing them in a surreal way. This retro futuristic trend is developing in many fields, such as music, literary art, fashion, and cinema. Steampunk has also contributed to bringing a modern touch to the western genre by infusing a dystopia. A kind of alternative world that merges and mixes the two influences.


The Western genre is defined as a cinematographic genre well known through various works such as classic movies, books, paintings, comics, or TV series. The Western genre is easily recognizable by its unique setting that revolves around cowboys or action locations such as Colorado or Nevada. Usually, the western style takes place in the west of America at a particular time of the 19th century. In the same way, the western style is composed of various themes rather demonstrative as the Wild West, cowboys, cavalry, Indians, railroads or steam trains.


steampunk western

Steampunk is a combination of elements from Victorian England and the Industrial Revolution. Its Punk side manifests itself in outrageousness and unbridled science fiction. This links quite easily with the cinematographic genre of the western. You have to imagine the world of cowboys revisited with improbable gadgets and punk or Victorian outfits. As Steampunk is becoming more and more trendy and developed, it is difficult to miss this cultural revolution that has brought a futuristic, fantastic, and impressive touch to the visual art of the western.

With a more concrete vision, we can recognize the steampunk touch thanks to the connections between the past and the future composed by the evolutions of modern technology. Like science fiction, we can say that the Steampunk or Cattlepunk Western reshapes the universe of the great American West by bringing implausible elements, even extravagant, making the scenarios much more enjoyable.
The western and the punk are thus two similar contexts offering a more sensational and subtle rendering, enough to attract the attention of the spectators.


western steampunk clothing

The Steampunk western genre is easily recognized by a specific style of clothing. Whether for women or men, steampunk fashion is undoubtedly distinguished through original accessories and faithful to the cowboy look. There are, for example, women's corsets or pocket watches that perfectly illustrate the representation of the cattlepunk world. This kind of clothing evokes the type of costume worn during the western era. In the same way, cowboy boots or stylish leather hats are also a must.

western skirt


cattle punk

Generally, the Steampunk western movie is distinguished by its typical setting from a futuristic Wild West version. It is usually a western town in the West or North America, with the typical 19th-century setting. On the other hand, Steampunk is often added with crazy and impressive elements, weapons or gadgets, coming out of nowhere, but if you look at it, they are way too advanced for their time. Examples include robots at the mercy of humans, literally serving as puppets, aliens that arrive in supernatural spaceships, or doped-up steam trains where the technology is at odds with its time.

To distinguish a classic western from a steampunk western, one can also rely on the many specific elements that embody the world of science fiction in the setting of the Wild West, or the supernatural, fantastic and extraordinary facts. For example, there are creations or inventions with complex technology or sophisticated elements that seem too advanced for the Wild West era.


jonah hex

Among the best films in the western and Steampunk theme, we can mention a few examples like Wild Wild West, Back to the Future III, Cowboys and Invader, or Jonah Hex.

In the same way, the western space evokes a similar lifestyle to the cowboys but with a much more futuristic, surreal, and sensational setting-like space. All the characteristic elements of western are present, but it's a bit like being transported to another galaxy. It is pretty impressive and, at the same time, original.


Like cinema, Steampunk is also very present in literary works revolving around Western atmospheres. Most of the stories combine fantasy, magic, science fiction, western, and punk. We can cite some references such as The alloy of justice, Games of masks, the meaning of life, the damnation affair ... Unlike cinema, which emphasizes Steampunk through gadgets, weapons, and machines from the future, the genre is instead characterized by supernatural and phantasmagorical facts in these books.


steampunk western

Applying the word "punk" to many genres seems to have its limits. Cattlepunk appears to lack the punk spirit. Some works are just science fiction tales set in the Wild West, and that's fine. Also, Steampunk often incorporates the Wild West, which ultimately takes place in the same era as Victorian England. The steampunk culture deserves its place in the western movie genre. It brings more charm and magic to the new adventures of cowboys of the Wild West. If you are not yet charmed by the fantastic and extraordinary universe revolving around Steampunk, don't hesitate to discover the western movies or books above to learn more.

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