The wrong theme for Western narratives since 1960 involves the hero as a professional. Typically this meant that he (always a he until very recent years) would be a town sheriff or a U.S. Marshall, possibly an officer in the Cavalry, or just as often, a professional gunslinger. Since the 1960s the modern western depicts this professional hero as the Captain of a starship, a lawman chasing a serial killer through the modern western landscape, or as the captain of a group of renegade heroes fighting an empire of some sort (Star Wars, Firefly). Your question is twofold:
1. Which depiction, lawman, soldier, gunslinger or outlaw, do you think works better for the western narrative? We are all accustomed to the old saying about westerns with the good guy in the white hat and the villains in the black hats. This adage has not really applied since the 1940s. Note how outlaws have been made into cultural heroes as well as the discussion of heroes as a variety of good guys trying to do the right thing.
2. What does the placement of modern westerns in the present or out in space do to/for the western narrative? Do these modern narratives give the hero greater latitude in the use of violence?