Romantic comedies can get away with the protagonists fighting their fear of commitment. Puzzle games can have you fighting against the lack of vowels in your Scrabble hand, but a good shoot-em-up in any medium needs some properly villainous bodies to be shot at.
One of which should always be played by Alan Rickman.
The problem is that current events and the audience's craving for novelty are drying up everyone's go-to staples for villainy. It all started with:
The fall of the Soviet Union caused a lot of problems -- such as political and economic disarray, missing nuclear weapons, runaway crime, that sort of thing -- but probably the worst thing about it was that moviegoers lost maybe the best bad guy country we'd ever had, aside from Nazi Germany. James Bond used to be a lone man taking on a massive evil empire with just his wits and lovemaking skills. Then one day in the 90s he finds himself fighting newspaper owners.
Oh no, he's going to write something mean about you!
In War Games, a young whippersnapper hacker found himself almost accidentally starting (and then stopping) a war between two superpowers that would have annihilated the earth. Now movie hackers just blow up people's computers and change traffic lights. Red Dawn was scary in addition to silly because, you know, maybe they weren't going to invade us exactly like that, but you still actually worried they might invade us.
By cloaking themselves behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy (almost like a veil, or curtain, made of some kind of metal) Russia freed America's imagination to fill in the many blanks with details that were 10 times worse than reality. According to the movies, Russia was ahead of us on everything -- space, missiles, sexy women spies, you name it -- and at any moment they were poised to burst out and destroy us.
Or break us, as the situation may require.
When they tore down that wall, as Reagan had asked them nicely to do, it was a huge letdown to find out our invincible adversaries had been basically eating their shoes to keep from starving. Shoes they had to wait in line to buy in the first place.
Let's see you love shoe shopping now, ladies.
Now, the good news is that Russians are just as nostalgic for the old days as action movie lovers (because at least then they had shoes to eat), and have been moving further and further toward old repressive Soviet policies. Not coincidentally, Russian bad guys have started to pop up again in movies like Iron Man 2 and games like Modern Warfare 2. The actual country still isn't back in top villain form though (where they'd have a massive army of soldiers wearing instead of eating their army boots), which means movie and game makers usually have to go with rogue Russians or Russian mobs.