The Big Question

Ok, I’ve decided to bring on of my things over from the forums onto the main blog. Basically I ask a question, you guys discuss, like the old share days but different.

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My question for this week is: How important are the actors in making a good superhero movie?

Before anyone says anything I’d just like to remind people that Robert Downey Jr. had pretty much no career before Iron Man, Christian Bale wasn’t exactly a top draw leading man before Batman Begins either and who knew who Chris Hemsworth was before Thor? However, if we look at some of the biggest names in hollywood, George Clooney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Halle Berry, Nick Cage….. These guys can make a good movie, but unfortunately not a good superhero one (half discounting Halle Berry, I don’t think her part in X-Men fully makes up for Catwoman). Then again, would Iron Man, or even The Avengers, be as great if it was someone other than RDJr. in the tin can?

Discussion below please.

16 Responses to The Big Question

  1. A good cast is important for any movie. What makes them good is not how popular they are, but how well they do with what they are given. It’s also easy to confuse bad scripts with bad acting. Clooney’s Batman had a script that only a writer’s strike could love. (Notice I’m not claiming he did well, just that it might not have mattered.) One-liners just aren’t enough for a good Batman movie. Want one-liners? Pick a cheesy sitcom or a biting, satirical play. Keaton’s Batman was well-acted, but emoting without a visible face isn’t conducive to a wide range of scripts. Keaton’s acting AND script as Batman were great. Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face was horrible, and he’s a FANTASTIC actor. I’m not sure how much was the script, how much was the director, and how much Jones just gave up dealing with whatever was going on. Gotta have the whole package, or most of the parts just won’t matter enough. Another example was Mr. Freeze. Horrible. AS’s performance as the original Terminator was miles above. Some of that was the script didn’t require more than he could handle with persistent, exacting direction and good editing.

  2. Imagine Woody Allen and Danny DeVito as Batman and Robin. “Nuff said?

  3. Calvary_Red

    Herr D pretty much nailed it. Actors, writers, and directors all need to do their jobs well to make a good movie.

  4. Calvary_Red:
    Herr D pretty much nailed it. Actors, writers, and directors all need to do their jobs well to make a good movie.

    However, I was asking specifically about the actors. Look at it this way, the two people who gave the best performances in the original Star Wars movies (not superhero movies I know, but bear with me) where Alec Guinness and Harrison Ford, who both hated working on the movies and said that the dialogue and script were rubbish, but the movies are now considered classic. So the question still stands, just how important are the actors?

  5. darkvatican

    Actors are very important. Not big-name actors, but the *right* actors for the movie in question. Having the right actor/actress for a particular movie is also no guarantee of box office success. For example, I would respectfully submit that Nicholas Cage was just fine for the first Ghost Rider film that Marvel chose to make. However it was the *wrong* movie for the Ghost Rider franchise, as a whole. Because of Cage’s portrayal of a somewhat simplistic Johnny Blaze (who happened to possess a rather droll sense of humor) in the film, people were turned off…but that version of Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider was what the director/producers thought would sell! Take a look at the sequel and you’ll find exactly what I mean. The sequel is darker, grittier, more violent, and generally more in keeping with what people would expect from a Ghost Rider story. And yet the movie was still a box office flop and it doesn’t even have a small fan following, like the first movie. I would say the movie’s overall lack of box office success was due in large part to the original film being so far from what Ghost Rider fans really wanted. But the movie has no small fan-following, because Cage was the wrong actor for that version of Blaze. If the sequel had been the original (with some appropriate changes in storyline to account for the timeline shift), and if the film was cast with a darker actor for Blaze, then the movie would likely have been a success. Not a ‘Spider-Man’ or ‘Iron Man’ success, but perhaps a ‘Fantastic Four’ or ‘X-Men’ success.

    This, of course, is just my opinion.

  6. Patriot_Missile

    I think the actors are very important. For example, Michael C. Duncan’s portrayal of The Kingpin was great compared to John Rhys-Davies, and you know these badass teddy bears both had access to the source material of the time. I don’t know of many people demanding for an actual short, hairy, buff martial artist Canadian actor to be given the role of Logan/Wolverine. Hugh Jackman seems to be doing just fine playing the part. Who played The Punisher and Nick Fury first? Who made the comic book character live on screen from your 2013 perspective?

  7. You also need to cast a Brit actor as the villain. They love it – allows them to over-act horribly, whilst using the ripest diction they can think of (see Benedict Cumberbatch in “Star Trek:Into Darkness” for details, amongst others.

    Re: Star Wars – everyone thinks the dialogue is rubbish. The only reason why the first trilogy made sense is because Lucas was made to sit down and re-write it all. Second time around he was too famous, and look what happened… Jar Jar Binks… :(

  8. fuzztone:
    You also need to cast a Brit actor as the villain. They love it – allows them to over-act horribly, whilst using the ripest diction they can think of (see Benedict Cumberbatch in “Star Trek:Into Darkness” for details, amongst others.

    As a Brit myself, I would like to say the only reason that our fine British Actors go over to Hollywood to over act is because there’s always so much other stupidity going on (explosions every other minute, massive muscle bound men shouting, swearing and being shot multiple times but only needing a small band-aid) that they know they can get away with it and it not be the worst part of the film. ;)

    Patriot Missile: I had to look both of those up and all I can say is, I’m glad I didn’t know about them previously. God, what were they trying to do, have a twat-off or something?

  9. I think part of your argument is flawed, JR. Equating being a big name automatically makes you a good actor isn’t necessarily true. And even some very good actors can basically phone it in. Likewise, the two names you mention first (RDJ and Christian Bale) were regarded as being very good at their craft, but not very big draws at the time (Robert Downey Jr. for being in an out of rehab in the past, and largely regarded as being washed up, while Christian Bale, well received in past works like American Psycho, hadn’t been cast in a starring role in a tentpole-level blockbuster yet).
    Casting the right actor can be important, unfortunately, the studio system often has the people paying out the money trying to force big names into pictures in order to attract potential movie goers to the movie being produced, with sometimes less than desired results.
    And yes, maybe some movies succeed despite the acting, because the story is interesting, or the special effects look cool, or whatever. Would The Matrix have been better if they cast someone less wooden than Keanu Reeves as Neo? Probably. Would it have done better at the box office? Considering the returns with Reeves in place, not significantly.

  10. I can’t imagine anyone but Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. He lived the life of a boozing womanizer who finds himself a means of redemption while indulging in his celebrity. Chris Hemsworth is perfect as Thor because he came in as an unknown He made the role his. Still can’t figure out why Thor dyes his flowing red locks blond…

    I have found big name stars often ham it up and are generally ignoble and dismissive of the superhero genre and its audience. They take the roles for big bucks and cheap laughs at the fans’ expense. Looking at you, Clooney… douchebag.

    The chemistry has to be just right, though: A good script, a director who “gets it,” and a relative unknown or somewhat popular actor/actress. I just find the “superstars” just don’t care and it often shows.

  11. Nite Rider

    Samuel L. Jackson makes an excellent Nick Fury.

  12. My original comment didn’t JUST make the point of actors being an important part of the mix. It also compared and contrasted how sometimes the actor isn’t enough, and sometimes it is, and sometimes people can’t tell the difference in where the problem lies.

    BTW: If any scriptwriter and director can make a bada$$ Batman and Robin without stunt NON-doubles or fx-ing the bodies of Woody Allen and Danny DeVito, their acting skill is up to it. The ex-hero Old Folks Home edition? They pull THAT off, I might have to pledge to watch everything they make from now on.

    Like a Batman and the last crusade? An interesting note is that Ford and Connery didn’t think anyone would believe they could be father and son. Boy did they pull THAT off.

  13. Nate_The_Prate

    There are some actors who just fit the role like a glove.

    RDJ, obviously, Mark Hamil as the Joker (I’m counting animation) and Kevin Conroy as Batman.

    I’ve often said this, but it causes me no end of amusement that Superman, the All American Hero, is being played by the British Henry Cavill. Of course, only time will tell if he holds a candle to the late GREAT Christopher Reeve or if he goes the way of Brandon Routh in the film that shall not be named.

    It’s pretty difficult to imagine anyone else playing live-action Wolverine, nor is it possible for anyone other than Ron Pearlman to don the red horn stubs and Right Hand of Doom/Anum.

    I think the most pleasant surprise for me, was Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk in Avengers. Being unfamiliar with his work and under the impression his roles were limited to rom-coms, I was sceptical, but found that he surpassed Bana and Norton, neither of whom I hated, but they pale in comparison.

    And then of course Spiderman. I didn’t hate Tobey Macguire, but Andrew Garfield is lightyears better (as long as he doesn’t go emo ) and I still hate Topher Grace as Venom…

  14. Calvary_Red

    Hmm. After thinking about i was about to determine actors’ performances really determine the quality of a movie, but then i remembered Joel Schumaker’s Batman. i don’t know if Michael Keaton could have helped that. i have noticed people tend to pay attention to flaws more that strengths, so it may just be a matter of a chain being only as strong as it’s weakest link.

    But if all other factors are decent, i think the actors will make or break the movie.

  15. Iron man is a unique question and the reason is as gwenyth paltrow eluded to the part is basicly Robert Downey Jr in text the swagger, the womanizing, the alchohol. I am not saying method acting is the only or best way because it varies. However there is some magic in the natural vibe and quick fire calm mannor RDJ can fire back with witty comment like the schwarma improvisation lines in avengers and the way he carries the character I am a huge iron man fan and I like the way he runs with it. This potts stark curve seems uniron-manish but its seems alright so far. Its an intresting curve to the iron man I remeber but I love as is I really hope RDJ resigns with the studio

    Sorry for punctuation I am on a not so smart phone.

  16. Well, I probably won’t add too much to the thread as there have already been some real good posts…here’s my two cents…

    RDJ is Iron Man and all others will fall in his shadow. RDJ had a damn fine career before Iron Man, but as pointed out, he had time in and out of rehab that pock marked a fine career.

    I knew Christian Bale from American Psycho so when the role for a early thirties white male was needed to dress up as a bat and attack people, Bale was a clear choice.

    Also as stated above, big names don’t make the movie. If the script is bad OR they have an inability to think for themselves and improve, it won’t matter who they are. My list of criminals that fit this bill are George Clooney -Batman, Arnie – Mr. Freeze, Nicolas Cage -Ghost Rider and Halle Barry -any role you give her to name a few. Nic Cage is good about every 8 movies he makes and Halle Barry should NEVER have been Storm and Catwoman set everyone back, to include geeks, actors, black woman and any other associative group that could be attached to that mess.