According to Hugh Jackman, he’s completely done with playing Wolverine. As he has long promised, Logan is his swan song – and a fitting one it is – and he’s off to put his body through considerably less strain for more pleasant roles. The world of comic book movies is a poorer place for his loss, and there will be some – including his Logan director James Mangold – who believe he shouldn’t be recast at all.
Luckily though, Fox aren’t complete idiots. They may have struggled to make a good Fantastic Four movie three times and some of their X-Men releases have been patchy at best, but they know the strength in the Wolverine brand. They know he is their blue chip commodity, and dropping him from the bill would be like Warner Bros putting Batman on ice. It’s just not going to happen.
So what happens next? Does the studio set about trying to find someone who will be able to perform as Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine, for the sake of a smoother transition? Do they go bold and cast against type and reimagine the character? Do they simply promote X-23 to the leading role? (They shouldn’t, she deserves her own movies).
What everything boils down to now is one over-arching, massively important question. Who replaces Jackman as Wolverine?
12. Iwan Rheon
Obviously, the Inhumans casting is rather unfortuitous for anyone who wants to see Game Of Thrones’ best villain Iwan Rheon going berserk as Wolverine, but it might not be entirely fatal. Marvel villains have a habit of dying off, after all, and there’s no saying he’s even necessarily tied in for multiple seasons of the show.
Without all of those logistical issues, Rheon would make an exceptional candidate for Wolverine, provided fans can shake off the ghosts of Ramsay Bolton. He might find himself cast as villains for a while after doing so well in that show, but it’s worth remembering that he started in a more heroic role on Misfits, and experience counts.
It would be far more interesting to see a new Wolverine with more ambiguous morality than Hugh Jackman’s staight-laced grump could really offer once he was moved into his leadership position, and having Rheon’s darker influence in there would offer an entirely different dynamic.
11. Ben Foster
There’s a good case for Ben Foster being the most talented, under-appreciated actor currently working in Hollywood: he is a genre-hopping chameleon, adept with comedy, horror, villainous roles and heroic ones, and he comes with a ready made bubbling fury that is a fundamental part of Wolverine’s genetics.
Like all of his fellow candidates here, he works remarkably well with more intense roles, he’s familiar with dark-sided characters and he has enough charm to keep Wolverine’s anti-heroism just the right side of good. He’d arguably be the best candidate if Fox decide to introduce Wolverine as an antagonist first and then face turn him later. And he deserves an opportunity for a meatier leading man role.
He’s already been in an X-Men movie, of course, but he was horribly miscast – and even more horribly under-used – as Angel in X-Men: The Last Stand. For that alone he deserves another shot as a mutant.
10. Kristofer Hivju
With most of Game Of Thrones’ cast probably coming to the end of their contracts very soon, studios would do well to put them to work to try and capture some of the fandom’s affection for the character roles they’ve just left.
One of the more intriguing figures on the Westeros cast is Kristofer Hivju – Tormund Giantsbane in the show – who could either disappear into Scandinavian dramas for the rest of his career and make a solid living, or play supporting level villains in Hollywood (as he is in the new Fast & Furious). It sounds cruel, but Hollywood knows how to typecast his breed of actor, in a way that will reduce his obvious talent to something like the level of a Jason Statham.
But he could do so much more: his Wilding wildman in Game Of Thrones is a low-key fan favourite, and beyond mighty facial hair, he also boasts the right sort of intensity, physical power and mischievous charm that could make Wolverine the interesting side character he should be relaunched as initially.
9. Jack O’Connell
Having kicked off his career in the excellent British show Skins, Jack O’Connell has gone about cementing his status as one of the UK’s brightest rising stars (even if Money Monster wasn’t quite as good as he would have hoped). His true break-out came with Starred Up, a brutal portrait of modern prison corruption from behind bars.
You can almost see Wolverine’s back-story in Starred Up’s victim-creating: O’Connell’s Eric is as much a prisoner of his own vulnerability and emotional turmoil as he is the cage that holds him. He’s a monster, defined by violence and hewn for its inevitability, but he carries dark mysteries, just as Wolverine does.
O’Connell has proven himself to be particularly adept at that sort of frenetic, intense performance, and if Fox look to cast young, he would make as impressive a candidate as Iwan Rheon.
8. Rory McCann
As soon as The Hound is killed in Game Of Thrones (of course it’s going to happen, he’s a character in Westeros), it’s likely Rory McCann will be inundated with offers to play intelligent hardmen, competing with the likes of Ray Stevenson for similar roles, or lumped with imposing supporting roles in genre films. He deserves better, and there’s a lot of Wolverine in The Hound’s make-up.
His relationship with Arya while it lasted was as uneasy and as perversely patriarchal as Wolverine’s relationship with Rogue, and his predilection to violence, despite being surprisingly eloquent given the opportunity could easily have been modelled on Logan.
McCann would be a completely different prospect to the majority of the others on this list, chiefly because of his massive size, but he’s basically already proved that he can play the character, so he’s got to be worth an outside consideration.
7. Aaron Taylor-Johnson
After appearances in both Avengers: Age Of Ultron and two Kick-Ass flicks, Aaron Taylor-Johnson qualifies as something of a veteran of the genre, but he’s never had a role he can get his chops into as well as Wolverine.
Though the Englishman started with more clean-cut roles (even in a film as outrageous as Kick-Ass), he has blossomed into a more interesting character actor more recently, taking on more challenging roles. And you can see from his recent work – particularly in Nocturnal Animals – that he suits darker, more explosive material.
He’d suit an agenda by Fox to introduce a more leading-man-type Wolverine while simultaneously catering to the demons of the character in a darkly charismatic way.
6. Walton Goggins
Anyone even remotely familiar with Walton Goggins’ work will know that he is at his best with intense material that allows him to channel his wilder side. He plays great villains, but he has a sort of off-kilter charisma that works well for anti-heroes too – as The Hateful Eight proved.
He’s also a very gifted actor, perhaps limited more to genre roles because of his look and his predilection for grander characterisation, with a lot of interesting work coming up (not least Three Christs with Peter Dinklage and History series SIX). The physical requirements might appear to be beyond him, but he has some previous, and he’s just stepped into Joe Mangianello’s boots for SIX playing a Seal team leader, so he’s obviously got something about him.
Goggins would be a particularly good choice if Fox decide to introduce Wolverine as a villain initially, and he’d definitely fit the requirement to not have him strong-arm his way into a leadership role again.
5. Trevante Rhodes
Now that Moonlight has picked up a surprising but heart-warming Best Picture victory at the Oscars, all of the talent involved should see their profiles sky-rocket. Barry Jenkins, Naomie Harris, and Mahershala Ali already won’t be shy of offers, but the newer cast members are likely to find their agents are far busier than they’ve ever been.
Trevante Rhodes has now leapt firmly into the Rising Star bracket, with both The Predator and war drama Horse Soldiers (for newcomer director Nicolai Fuglsig) coming in 2018, and there is definitely something in the intensity in his performance as Chiron that suggests he’d translate well to powerful, action-heavy performances.
Fox should steal a march on the other comic book film-makers who will no doubt come sniffing, and strike a blow for progressive characterisation by completely changing Wolverine. No better way to distance themselves from Jackman than to make Wolverine a black man.
4. Jake Gyllenhaal
Gyllenhaal has come a long way since he auditioned to play Christopher Nolan’s Batman. Even then he would probably have come across as too refined and too light-weight to play the character (Christian Bale’s American Psycho history made him the most interesting candidate), but he’s an entirely different actor now.
He’s quietly gone about ascending the Hollywood ladder, making a string of great films since Batman Begins with Brokeback Mountain, Jarhead, Zodiac, Brothers, Source Code, Prisoners, Enemy, Nightcrawler, Southpaw and Nocturnal Animals all wowing. And the thing that keeps improving as he does is his flair for intense roles with a hotline on emotion.
He’s also proved himself able to bulk for roles, and he would suit the wiry, skinned dog look Jackman was sporting at his physical peak for The Wolverine. He might not quite have the cocky charm, but there have been flashes of the necessary bravado before (and it’s not like stage musical star Jackman had a great deal of specific experience when he stepped into the role).
3. Norman Reedus
As he’s so expertly proven in The Walking Dead (and probably Boon Dock Saints too), Reedus has a particular flair for outsider types with the kind of cool that fans lap up. Even when the material hasn’t been up to much, Reedus has fashioned a cult mythology about himself that would suit a new take on Wolverine too.
Imagine him playing Logan as a brusque, cold drifter – the image we were fed of him initially in Bryan Singer’s X-Men – rather than the more heroic leader he would later become in the movie franchise. Wolverine needs to channel his nastier genes again, and that would only work in the hands of an actor who could blur the lines of villainy and still remain likeable.
In the absence of Jon Bernthal thanks to The Punisher, Reedus is the actor most qualified for that particular angle.
2. Joe Mangianello
He might already be ear-marked for Deathstroke in The Batman, but that is absolutely not a certainty at this stage, given the well-publicised issues with that production. Who is to say that Matt Reeves won’t want to start his own story, and that screen test will ultimately end up the only time Mangianello even gets to put the costume on?
Arguably what makes the Magic Mike actor such a good prospect for Wovlerine is the same as why he’d make a good, charismatic Deathstroke: he has the hulking size, he has disarming charm and he has a sort of snark that suits both characters. Though he has superhero good looks, there’s no way he could play a boy scout hero: he’s got anti-hero written all over him, and they don’t come more credible or more challenging than Wolverine.
1. Tom Hardy
Seriously though, who better?
There’s a pretty compelling argument that Tom Hardy could play any comic book character on screen and nail the role. He’d be an intriguing Batman, a psychopathic Joker, an eloquent, violent Riddler, a charming, twinkle-eyed Superman… He’s a transformative actor, after all, whose performances are far more complex than the mumbling hulk he threatened to become around the time he played Bane.
Most interestingly for fans of Wolverine, Hardy has an intangible otherness – a manner like Michael Keaton’s that suggests he’s not quite of this world – which he combines with a Bondian refined accent and mischief in his eyes that would fit Wolverine’s cult anti-hero status. And he’d also fit the size requirements: reclaiming Wolverine’s bulk after Jackman slimmed down somewhat for his later roles.
Obviously he’d look silly in yellow spandex, but so would everyone else on this list, and the most compelling case for his employment as the new Wolverine comes down to his irresistible screen presence, his charisma and his likeability factor even when playing killers. Someone at Fox needs to get the ball rolling on this one immediately.
No longer content just to take characters and backstories from Marvel’s back catalog, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has taken to adapting entire comic book arcs. Captain America: Winter Soldier and Civil War started as comic storylines. Thor: Ragnarok borrows liberally from World War Hulk. Avengers: Infinity War, the culmination of everything the MCU’s accomplished so far, started life as Jim Starlin, George Pérez, and Ron Lim’s cosmic epic Infinity Gauntlet.
But not every comic book storyline is well-suited to the silver screen, and some won’t ever see a live-action translation. Some are too violent. Some deal with controversial content, or carry unsettling sexual undertones. A few are just too dang weird for a mainstream movie studio. Whatever the cause, don’t expect to see these tales unfold in the theater until Marvel, Fox, and Sony run entirely out of ideas—and even then, don’t hold your breath.
Structurally, The Avengers borrows a lot from Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s first Ultimates run. At the beginning, the superheroes bicker among themselves, fighting each other more than the bad guys. About halfway through, the Hulk goes on a rampage, and the other heroes must work together to bring him down. At the end, the aliens known as the Chitauri attack, forcing the team to put their differences aside and come together as a team to save the Earth.
So far, so good. But that’s about as adaptable as the Ultimates saga gets. Unlike the cinematic Avengers, The Ultimates present a very different (and incredibly cynical) view of superheroes. It’s too dark and disturbing to ever imagine seeing onscreen. Ultimate Captain America is a xenophobe. Ultimate Hank Pym brutally beats his wife, Janet, putting her in the hospital. Ultimate Hulk straight-up eats people.
As the Ultimate line goes on, things get even worse. While readers had some hints before, The Ultimates 3 outs Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver—brother and sister—as lovers. In Ultimatum, the X-Men villain the Blob eats the Wasp. Hank Pym responds in kind, using his size-changing abilities to get revenge by biting Blob’s head off. Most of the X-Men die, the Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards turns evil, and Manhattan is more or less annihilated. Even without the spousal abuse, incest, and graphic violence, the whole story is too dour for Marvel to put on the screen. People like to root for their heroes. The Ultimates makes that more or less impossible.
Punisher: Fade to White
These days, Frank Castle’s very busy over on Netflix, but it’s not inconceivable that he’ll return to the silver screen some day. Just don’t expect him to look quite like he did in The Punisher #60 through #62. Previously, the Kingpin concocted a plan that sent the Punisher to prison, where he was mutilated by his longtime foe, Jigsaw. Castle escapes, of course, but his face is in tatters. In short, he needs a new one. Bloody and beaten, the Punisher tracks down a plastic surgeon and requests a new look. “Change me so my best friend wouldn’t know me,” Frank demands.
The doctor complies. When the Punisher takes off the bandages, he’s a black man.
Yes, you read that right: in the early ’90s, Marvel editorial decided that turning Frank Castle, a Caucasian, black was a good idea. It’s as weird as it sounds. The police immediately pull Frank over for no good reason, and taunt him with racial epithets. He moves to Chicago, teams up with Luke Cage, and starts fighting drug dealers. Later, after the chemicals that changed the color of his skin wear off, Frank looks in a bathroom mirror and reflects on what he’s learned. “My changes have made some things clearer,” he says. “Seeing the individual past the color, to the crime. Crime doesn’t have a color. Neither does punishment.”
The story is supposed to be a comment on the prejudice and racism that black people in America face every day. It’s a noble goal, and everyone’s heart seems to be in the right place, but that doesn’t make it good. Putting a character in sci-fi blackface would never fly with movie audiences or critics, making this one story that’s best left in the back-issue bins—if not forgotten entirely.
There is one big reason we’ll never see Spider-Man: Reign on the big screen. It’s not that the comic, which borrows heavily from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, is too dark for audiences (although watching Doctor Octopus’ mechanical tentacles tromp around New York with the good doctor’s rotting corpse still attached might be too much for a kid-friendly franchise). It’s not that Reign stars a decrepit, 70-year-old Peter Parker (although Marvel and Sony did just finish making Spider-Man a baby-faced high-schooler again in Spider-Man: Homecoming).
No, you’ll never see Spider-Man: Reign brought to life in cinemas because the whole story revolves around Peter Parker’s sperm. See, according to Reign, the radioactive spider that bit Peter and gave him his powers didn’t just change his blood. It infected all of his bodily fluids. Naturally, Peter is immune to the radiation’s side effects—but his spouse, Mary Jane Watson, isn’t so lucky, and over the course of their relationship, she inadvertently exposes herself to his poisonous seed. As a result, she develops cancer and dies. Peter (rightly) blames himself.
That’s why Peter Parker hangs up the webshooters. That’s why Spider-Man isn’t around when an authoritarian regime takes over New York and transforms it into a dystopian hellscape. That’s why ol’ webhead needs to come out of retirement and become the hero that the city needs—again. And that’s why Spider-Man: Reign won’t be hitting a cineplex near you anytime soon—or, realistically, ever.
Radioactive spider-sperm, people. It ain’t gonna happen.
If you’re up on recent comic book stories, you’re familiar with Secret Empire, Marvel’s big event for summer 2017. Even if you’re not, you might’ve heard about the controversial premise in the press. Yeah, that’s right: this is the comic that makes Captain America a Nazi.
Okay, okay, technically Cap’s a sleeper agent for Hydra, but despite Marvel’s claims, that doesn’t really make anything better. Hydra debuted as its own evil organization, but became a Nazi-affiliated group two years later. Meanwhile, the average fan probably knows Hydra best from Captain America: The First Avenger, which depicts Hydra as part of the Nazi regime. The comic itself doesn’t do much to dispel fans’ concerns, either. After Steve Rogers infiltrates S.H.I.E.L.D., reveals his true nature, and conquers America in Hydra’s name, he rounds up the super-powered Inhumans and ships them off to concentration camps. Even if Hydra-Cap isn’t a Nazi by name, the parallels are too strong to ignore.
Hydra-fueled takeovers of America appeared in the MCU twice already (once in Captain America: The Soldier, and again in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season four), making a third occurrence incredibly unlikely, but that’s not really the point. These days, real-life Nazis—some of whom proudly wear Captain America’s gear—are an actual problem. Secret Empire received plenty of criticism from the comic book community. Marvel’s not going to court that kind of controversy by repeating the plot in theaters, and won’t risk tainting one of its most popular characters for a cheap and tacky stunt. Count on it.
Marvel’s movie division gets many things right, but onscreen diversity isn’t one of them. Iron Man launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008, but it won’t get a film with a solo female lead until 2019’s Captain Marvel, the 21st movie in the series. Fans looking for LGBTQ representation will (probably) have to wait even longer. While Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn hinted that current Marvel characters could be gay and we just don’t know about it, the studio doesn’t have any plans to introduce a visibly gay, lesbian, bi, or transgender superhero any time soon—at least, not any that we know about.
Even if an existing Marvel character ends up being queer, it probably won’t be one of the main ones. Don’t look to Fox to step up, either. X-Treme X-Men, for example, could be a fun spinoff in Fox’s ever-growing X-Men line. A team of inter-dimensional X-Men on a mission to rid the multiverse of Professor X’s evil doppelgängers is a fine premise for a movie. It’ll never be adapted—at least not faithfully. See, in X-Treme X-Men, General Howlett—i.e. Wolverine—is gay.
With Hugh Jackman stepping down from the role that made him famous, now’s the perfect time for an alternate take on Wolverine. Still, that’s going to be a hard sell for audiences, and an even harder sell for Fox. A gay Wolverine would present an excellent opportunity for a talented filmmaker to dissect and explore one of the most popular superheroes ever created. It’s also going to make the movie a hard sell for audiences, and an even harder one for Fox. In short, we’re not holding our breaths.
You know Thanos, the wrinkly-chinned, purple bad guy who’s been pulling the strings from behind the scenes since at least The Avengers? Yeah, well, he has a brother, but you’re not likely to see him onscreen any time soon. Ignoring a potential trademark dispute with Nintendo, here’s why: Starfox is an utter, unrepentant creep.
See, while Thanos has super strength and endurance, hyper-intelligence, unparalleled hand-to-hand combat skills, and a whole bevy of psychic powers, Starfox really only does one thing: he makes people like him. Really, really like him. Technically, he stimulates the pleasure centers of people’s brains, which in turn makes them attracted to him. In practice, Starfox is a walking, talking aphrodisiac who uses his powers to score as much nookie as possible. Heck, his real name isn’t even Starfox. It’s Eros. That says pretty much everything you need to know.
Starfox is so bad that She-Hulk even took him to court, where he was tried for sexual assault (His father whisked him away to his home planet, Titan, before the jury reached a verdict). Maybe Starfox’s power seemed innocuous when he debuted in 1973, but in today’s world, a superpowered roofie does not a good hero make. When Thanos reveals his grand scheme in Avengers: Infinity War, don’t expect to see Starfox by his side—at least, not if Marvel has any sense at all.
Sins Past (and Sins Remembered)
The Green Goblin might be Spider-Man’s arch-nemesis, but don’t expect Norman Osborn to grace theater screens any time soon. According to Spider-Man: Homecoming producer Amy Pascal, Norman and the rest of the Osborn family will be confined to the comic book pages for the foreseeable future. He’s already played out. As she put it, “I don’t know how many more times we can do the Green Goblin.”
For the Goblin’s diehard fans, that’s bad news, but there’s one silver lining. Norman’s absence means there’s no way that “Sins Past,” J. Michael Straczynski and Mike Deodato Jr.’s controversial Amazing Spider-Man arc, will ever get a big-screen remake. That’s very, very good, especially considering “Sins Past” is undoubtedly the ickiest storyline ever introduced in Spider-Man’s main continuity.
See, according to Straczynski and Deodato, Spider-Man’s girlfriend Gwen Stacy had a brief fling with Norman—i.e. the guy who killed her—while vacationing in France. As a result of the encounter, Gwen gave birth to twins. It’s not only the age difference between Gwen and Norman that makes the story so bad, although that’s pretty gross. It’s not only that Mary Jane knew about the affair and didn’t tell Peter until the twins come knocking at his door, or that Gwen lost her virginity to the Green Goblin and not her long-term boyfriend. It isn’t even the way “Sins Past” re-contextualizes Gwen’s death, more or less removing Spider-Man from the equation.
No, it’s that in the follow-up storyline, “Sins Remembered,” Peter makes out with one of the twins because she kind of looks like Gwen. Kissing the daughter of your long-lost love and number one villain while you’re married to someone else? That’s bad. Comic book readers didn’t tolerate it (eventually, the whole affair was retconned out of existence). Chances are, movie audiences wouldn’t, either.
Chris Hemsworth is a good looking and funny guy, and the first two Thor movies coast on his charisma alone. But even Hemsworth’s dreamy smile and strong sense of humor couldn’t make Thor: Vikings work onscreen. As writer Garth Ennis (the man behind resolutely not-safe-for-work yarns like Preacher, The Boys, and Crossed) and Glenn Fabry’s superhero adventure reminds us, the ancient Norsemen weren’t wisecracking swashbucklers like Thor and his comrades. They were hardened warriors with a mean streak a mile long, and Thor: Vikings revels in it.
Remember, this is the comic that opens with a Viking horde razing a Norwegian village, and then sends the invaders to modern day New York, where they rape, pillage, and murder their way through Manhattan as undead conquerors. They drive a spear through the mayor on live television. They block the streets in SoHo with piles of severed heads. Even Thor has trouble stopping them, especially after they snap both of the thunder god’s arms, chain his hammer to his neck, and chuck him into the Hudson river.
While the differences between Thor’s fairy tale world and the violent, unforgiving nature of real-life Vikings makes an interesting contrast, Marvel seems to be moving in the opposite direction with the colorful and otherworldly Thor: Ragnarok. Even if it weren’t, Thor: Vikings is just too violent for mainstream moviegoers—even dedicated gore-hounds might find some of the gruesome antics stomach-turning. With Ennis at the helm, we wouldn’t expect anything less.
Deadpool isn’t a bad guy—well, not entirely—but he’s also got no problem with violence, especially when someone else is on the receiving end. He’s a mercenary in a world full of supervillains. Sometimes, gore is going to happen. It’s just part of the job.
Deadpool’s zany sense of humor and complete disregard for heroic norms make him a breath of fresh air in the world of stuffy, uptight superhero morality. That’s why he’s so popular. But there’s still a line, and Deadpool’s been known to cross it. Not only has he killed the Marvel Universe—twice—but in Deadpool: Killustrated, the Merc with a Mouth hunts down and murders characters from pieces of classic literature.
And yeah, it’s funny (kind of) to watch Wade Wilson scoop out Don Quixote’s eyeballs, spread Tom Sawyer’s blood all over the boy’s newly painted fence, feed Mowgli to Shere Khan, gut the Little Mermaid, and blow up the Little Women (yes, all of ’em). It’s also very, very dark, even for Deadpool. On the page, Deadpool: Killustrated’s violence doesn’t seem any worse than a particularly depraved Itchy and Scratchy cartoon, and while the gag runs thin—four issues is a lot for a single joke—it’s bearable. Translate that story into live action, however, and it’d be positively traumatic.
Many people grew up on these stories, and watching Deadpool murder beloved children’s characters—most of whom did nothing wrong—would almost certainly turn the audience against him. If Fox wants to keep the Deadpool cash trail chugging along, they’ll keep Deadpool: Killustrated as far from the silver screen as possible.
The Avengers proved that superhero crossovers could work just as well in theaters as they do in comic shops, paving the way for three more (and counting) Avengers flicks, Captain America: Civil War, and Spider-Man: Homecoming, as well as DC-flavored team-ups like Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad, and, most importantly, Justice League. But, these days, interconnected superhero universes are old hat. We’ve seen it all before. In fact, there’s only one big superhero crossover left on our wish list: put Marvel’s Avengers and DC’s Justice League in the same movie, let them fight it out, and see who comes out on top.
It’ll never happen. Letting DC and Marvel characters share the same screen would be like McDonald’s selling a Whopper, or Coke deciding to line grocery store aisles with Diet Pepsi, or the USS Enterprise dogfighting with the Millennium Falcon. The corporate overlords at Disney and Warner Bros. won’t ever give their competition such a big boost—at least, not on purpose—even if fans would literally kill to see it happen.
That’s a shame, too, because the source material’s already given both studios the perfect template for a box office-shattering blockbuster. JLA/Avengers (also known as Avengers/JLA) tells the story of an epic clash between Earth’s mightiest heroes and the League, who, as per tradition, duke it out before teaming up to stop a timeless evil. Written by accomplished superhero scribe Kurt Busiek and illustrated by the legendary George Perez, JLA/Avengers could be the superhero movie to end all superhero movies. But it won’t be. Not only would the rights be a nightmare to untangle, but after a team-up like that, there’s nowhere to go but down.
Every year, the /Film staff writes their top 10 movies of the year lists and every year, we combine those lists into one final, definitive list. The result is a top 15 that represents the entire site, a look at everything that we have treasured over the past 12 months.
First, a quick note on how this list was compiled. We took each personal list and assigned a score to each position in each top 10. For example, a film that ranked as number one on a personal list would score 10 points, a film that ranked as number two would score nine points, and so on. After some basic math, the overall list took shape.
Second, a number of films made it on to our top 10 lists but didn’t have enough points to break into the overall top 15. They are as follows: Raw, Logan, It, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Wonder Woman, Brigsby Bear, Personal Shopper, Okja, War for the Planet of the Apes, Your Name, and Phantom Thread.
And finally, the blurbs under each entry are excerpted from our overall top 10 lists, which you can find linked at the bottom of this article.
15. The Disaster Artist
The way James Franco’s Tommy Wiseau and Dave Franco’s Greg Sestero support each other’s million-to-one dream of making it in Hollywood when no one else will is inspiring…until it turns toxic. The Francos are both excellent, but Dave, in particular, deserves praise for totally nailing the straight man part as James’ far more flamboyant performance earns a lot of attention. And while its dramatic aspects might make more people pay attention to it come awards time, the movie is also a comedy – and it earns its laughs. I think I cracked up more here than in anything else last year. (Ben Pearson)
Even though The Disaster Artist takes plenty of shots at the eccentricities and behavior of The Room director, writer and star Tommy Wiseau, he becomes far more than the punchline that his film has become over the years. James Franco’s performance makes us sympathize and empathize with Wiseau as a man trying to fulfill his own American dream. Not only is he a dreamer in every sense of the word, but he’s also a fiercely loyal friend. (Ethan Anderton)
Coco is one of Pixar’s most visually dazzling movies; the way co-directors Lee Unkrich and Adrian Malina conceived of the underworld is vibrant, lush, and jaw-droppingly beautiful, but the scenes set in “real world” Mexico are also lovely. This may be the most emotional I’ve been at a movie in years (I was openly weeping during a key moment near the end), and the music is spot-on all the way through. (They even got the finger movements right – as someone who plays the guitar, I’m always paying close attention to technique, and the animators didn’t take any shortcuts here.) Decades from now, I think we’re going to look back on Coco as one of the high points in Pixar’s filmography. (Ben Pearson)
13. Ingrid Goes West
What makes Ingrid Goes West this year’s best film is that it’s a wickedly smart commentary on our social media obsessed world. But this film is a comedy first and foremost and uses the commentary as the canvas to tell this story. It’s not just a great comedy, though – it’s the perfect film to represent our times. No, it’s not about Trump, politics, diversity, or any of the issues we talk about on a daily basis, but it’s about the platforms on which we talk about all of that. It’s about us as a society and how the technology in our pockets has changed our habits and happiness. (Peter Sciretta)
12. John Wick: Chapter 2
Chad Stahelski’s action movie fantasia blends the brutal action of Hong Kong cinema, the outrageous plotting of modern South Korean cinema, and the mythology and world-building of American comic books into a delicious cocktail that goes down so smooth that it feels…well, criminal. Usually, it takes a decade or two before we place the best genre cinema on a pedestal and admit that a concoction this clever and fun is a masterpiece. We could be all dead by then. Let’s celebrate John Wick: Chapter 2 right now. (Jacob Hall)
John Wick: Chapter 2‘s action sequences might not be as hard-hitting or spectacularly executed as the original (or maybe my expectations were just higher going in), but what this sequel nails is something I didn’t expect: a sense of world-building. Who would have thought that a franchise like John Wick would create a movie universe that I would want to explore? The first film, while fantastically executed, seemed like a one and done revenge action film, but now I need to see this entire world of the international hitmen and bounty hunters. I think when all is said and done, we could look back at the John Wick films as the best action series of our time. (Peter Sciretta)
11. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri believes in people. It believes that they will ultimately achieve grace, that they can fix their broken lives and protect those in need. It also believes that the path to get there is littered with land mines and potholes and that redemption is only achieved after you’ve stumbled a half dozen times and learned enough hard lessons to leave a mark. It’s a bitter pill of a movie, sweetened by Martin McDonagh’s searing, stylized dialogue and performances from likable actors bringing flawed and often loathsome characters to life. Not everyone will be on board for this tale of small town fury – the way it proudly waves a middle finger in the face of political correctness has ignited a storm on Film Twitter – but its coarseness, its uncouthness, completes McDonagh’s intentionally imperfect portrait. (Jacob Hall)
I’m a longtime fan of writer/director Martin McDonagh because his movies often feel “written” in the best possible way, with a wonderful mixture of flawed characters, heartbreaking loss, and laugh out loud comedy. Three Billboards exemplifies all of those qualities and more, led by a fearsome powerhouse of a performance from Frances McDormand that feels very much in line with the frustration and boiling rage many of us (but especially women) felt last year. (Ben Pearson)
10. Lady Bird
Lady Bird is more than a superb coming-of-age movie. It’s a love letter to bullish adolescence, an ode to every tense mother-daughter relationship, a stellar writing-directing debut from mumblecore queen Greta Gerwig, and a searing insight into my very soul. It sounds strange at first to set a teenage film in an arbitrary year like 2003, but as one of the many American girls who came of age during that time, Lady Bird resonated with me on another level. And that was surely Gerwig’s intention: to tell an intensely personal story that feels both fresh and familiar. (Hoai-Tran Bui)
I am a sucker for coming-of-age dramas, and yet, somehow, Lady Bird surprised me. There’s not been a better film about the transition from adolescence to adulthood since Almost Famous. Saoirse Ronan delivers a stellar performance in this heartfelt, charming, funny and moving story. The film succeeds due to the authenticity it lends its characters and the relatable situations (many of which have become a rite of passage in all of our lives) that it depicts. Writer/director Greta Gerwig has solidified her position as a filmmaker and artist to watch. (Peter Sciretta)
9. Blade Runner 2049
When I say this film is huge, I mean it in the literal sense – Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins render the world of Blade Runner 2049 in big, bold, dizzying strokes, creating a landscape populated by imposing, brutalistic structures that loom and threaten like elder gods. It’s easy to get lost in all the spectacle on display here, but beneath the film’s unique, gorgeous appearance are quiet, dramatic moments – for instance, who knew that a Blade Runner sequel would offer up one of the best performances of Harrison Ford’s career? (Chris Evangelista)
The most incredible thing about Blade Runner 2049 is that it’s a proper Blade Runner movie. Pure and unfiltered. For better and worse. Major corporations gave director Denis Villeneuve over $150 million to make a science fiction movie starring Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford and he turned around and delivered a long, slow-moving, deliberately obtuse meditation on the meaning of existence. In other words, he made a Blade Runner movie. A Blade Runner movie that may actually be as good as the original. Holy mackerel. How did that happen? (Jacob Hall)
Blade Runner 2049 is the most beautiful looking film of the year. Every frame of this sequel is a painting. The story is more compelling than the original and I love the ideas it explores. (Peter Sciretta)
In 2017, Christopher Nolan made his best and most experimental film, working from a premise that could have (and should have) been boilerplate. The evacuation of British soldiers from the shores of Dunkirk, a strategic retreat that allowed the Allies to hold on and turn the tide in the early days of World War II, could have been a standard war movie, a tale of brave men and harrowing action and fierce patriotism. Strangely, Dunkirkis a tale of brave men involved in harrowing action that creates a feeling of fierce patriotism (even if you’re not English), but it is also bold cinema crafted to be experienced in a theater, where you cannot escape the images on the giant screen in front of you and the booming soundtrack ringing in your ears. And experience it in a theater you must, because Dunkirk is practically a silent movie, one that tells its story through worried glances, accusing stares, and desperate gestures. (Jacob Hall)
I scoffed at first when Christopher Nolan announced that his latest film would be an “experience” rather than a traditional story, but that is what Dunkirk truly is: a visceral, impassioned experience that tests the limits of what movies can do. Separate timelines aside, Dunkirk is Nolan’s most barebones film, yet it still manages to achieve a level of emotional resonance that his most complex movies could only dream of. Dunkirk envelops the viewer in the raucous cacophony of World War II, your teeth clacking and your ears in danger of being deafened. It’s almost on par with watching a 4D movie, but Nolan expertly weaves a simple narrative through the auditory and visual language. There’s a reason that the dialogue-sparse film could easily be condensed into an affecting silent film: Dunkirk is pure cinema. (Hoai-Tran Bui)
Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is a war movie where battle isn’t nearly as important as survival. With this film, Nolan pulls out all the stops, putting every trick in his director’s bag to work to craft the ticking-clock movie to end all ticking-clock movies. Nolan sets up three distinct locations – land, sea, air – and proceeds to deftly combine them together into a tense, cohesive, and ultimately emotional journey. Most of all, though, Dunkirk is a showcase for Nolan’s skills behind the camera; an excuse for the filmmaker to create big spectacle on the largest canvas imaginable, while never straying into mindless blockbuster territory. (Chris Evangelista)
7. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Star Wars: The Last Jedi isn’t about tearing down the legacy of Star Wars, as some can’t seem to stop pointing out. It’s about expanding the scope of Star Wars so future generations can enjoy it. The Last Jedi is about respecting what came before while understanding, as Luke Skywalker says, “It’s so much bigger.” Rian Johnson shows this by introducing new ideas into Star Wars canon, from large concepts like the abilities of the Force to little things like the evolution of Death Star technology. This is a movie that is Star Wars through and through without feeling like it’s treading the same waters of all the movies that came before it. (Ethan Anderton)
There’s so much movie in The Last Jedi, a film that gleefully takes huge swings left and right – and when one of those swings connects, it delivers like nothing else in the franchise ever has. It’s exceedingly clear to me that Johnson has an immense love for these characters and this mythology, and he inserts his beliefs about the franchise into the text of his film: it’s important to be inspired by and learn from the past, but it’s also imperative to move on and build something new. (Ben Pearson)
It’s true that I mostly loved Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but I do have a few issues with the film (which I have already discussed at length elsewhere on the site). While I love the risks Rian Johnson took with this franchise, I feel some of them (like some of the humor) felt out of place in this galaxy, and that other choices in the film feel hurtful to the three-film arc of this story. But those quibbles aside, this is the most beautiful looking and continuously surprising Star Wars films ever released. (Peter Sciretta)
6. The Post
The breathless pacing, the stellar cast, and the depressingly relevant subject matter all coalesce into not only a truly great and entertaining movie, but something that stands alongside Get Out as one of the defining films of 2017. I haven’t loved a Meryl Streep performance in years, but this one reminds me of how she can make greatness look effortless. And while Tom Hanks is reliably solid (as usual), I hope people remember Bob Odenkirk’s work in this one when the dust settles. Political, riveting, and absolutely essential, The Post is Steven Spielberg firing on all cylinders. (Ben Pearson)
Stirring, suspenseful, and more than a little sentimental, The Post is the ode to journalism that we need, told by a director who in awe of the entire fourth estate. And awe is what Spielberg excels at. Each shot lovingly paints The Washington Post and its reporters as all-American heroes, embroiled in a gripping narrative that Spielberg directs like an action film. And, oh, the reporters. Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep are deservedly the centerpieces of this film as the cocksure Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee and the unsure first-time female publisher Kay Graham respectively, but The Post is truly a showcase for all the best character actors and actresses working today: Bob Odenkirk shines, Matthew Rhys, and Carrie Coon are standouts. The whole film is like watching an elegant dance between a master class of actors and a director at the top of his game. (Hoai-Tran Bui)
It would be easy to acknowledge that the importance of the media in the early 1970s is wholly different when compared to today’s standards. But that’s covered by the fact that there’s a clear parallel between Richard Nixon trying to block the media and Donald Trump trying to delegitimize the entire industry, unless they’re Fox News. The Post might feel like it’s a little on the nose, but that’s because it’s exactly the kind of movie that we need right now to remind certain people why we need the media. (Ethan Anderton)
Democracy dies in darkness, and Steven Spielberg’s whiz-bang, monumentally important meditation on the vitality off a free press couldn’t come at a more opportune time. Is Spielberg’s take on the story of the Washington Post’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers a little on-the-nose? Sure, but maybe these are times that call for less subtlety and more bluntness, especially when this topic is concerned. And here’s the thing: even if The Post weren’t an important film for 2017 dealing with important issues, it’s also one hell of an entertaining flick. (Chris Evangelista)
5. Call Me By Your Name
You know that moment when you first wake from a beautiful dream? You feel hazy, feverish, and dense with an inexplicable emotion that remains just out of reach. That’s what the entirety of Call Me By Your Name is like. The LGBTQ romance is subtle and moving, set against the gorgeous, lazy backdrop of the warm Italian countryside. But despite its lush setting, director Luca Guadagnino maintains a cold distance to his core characters, allowing the romance between breakout star Timothée Chalamet and the Adonis-like Armie Hammer to blossom in an aching slow-burn. Guadagnino observes but never touches — as if this summer fling is so beautiful and delicate that it could shatter into a million pieces. (Hoai-Tran Bui)
Forget an Oscar – can we give Michael Stuhlbarg the Nobel Peace Prize for his breathtaking monologue at the end of Call Me By Your Name? Even if everything that came before this concluding speech had been lackluster (which it isn’t), Stuhlbarg’s delivery coupled with the power of the words themselves casts Call Me By Your Name into the upper echelon of 2017 films. (Chris Evangelista)
For much of the movie, there’s this unspoken tension between Chalamet and Hammer that you can cut with a knife. They’re each always on the verge of ripping each other’s clothes off and kissing each other into oblivion. Luca Guadagnino creates an lush, gorgeous environment for this relationship to blossom in, only for it to be a fleeting moment in both of their lives, almost as if it’s been built up in each of their minds as this temporary fairytale. The linchpin is a tear-inducing monologue given by Michael Stuhlbarg at the end of the movie that is the icing on a positively magnificent cake. (Ethan Anderton)
Love is what defines Call Me By Your Name. Love is in every gorgeous frame, in every conversation, and every nuanced interaction. These characters love one another and Guadagnino loves all of them, often pausing to give minor supporting characters a moment in the spotlight because the film has enough room in its heart for everyone. Our hearts are torn open by Elio and Oliver, but they’re healed and strengthened by the men and women in the margins. And then, when we least suspect it, Elio’s father (the great Michael Stuhlbarg) delivers a monologue so beautiful and heart wrenching that all of the pain and joy we’ve endured for the past two hours comes into crystal clear focus. This is Elio’s summer. This is Oliver’s summer. It is also our summer. (Jacob Hall)
4. The Shape of Water
Leave it to Guillermo del Toro to make one of the most romantic movies of the year, and also have it be about a woman who falls for a fish-man. The Shape of Water is a lovely little Cold War fairytale; a film brimming with ideas, and defiant of fitting nicely into any one particular genre. Violent, charming, and yes, even sexy, The Shape of Water is as fluid as its title suggests, able to change and shift at will. It’s also a wonderful celebration of individuals who are traditionally labeled as societal outcasts. (Chris Evangelista)
Guillermo del Toro returned to the realm of fairy tales and delivered this lyrical, beautiful love story of the overlooked and the voiceless. The premise is out there (a mute woman falls for a fish man), but as usual, del Toro goes all out on the production design and sucks you into a world where that seems like a plausible and natural thing that could happen. (Ben Pearson)
I’m convinced that there’s no director who loves his craft more than Guillermo del Toro. There’s a certain unfiltered joy he brings to his movies that you can feel throughout The Shape of Water, a weird and whimsical fairy tale with teeth and a warm, bloody heart. He’s been knocked before for his fastidious love letters to genre, but The Shape of Water soars thanks to the ardent cinematic homages that del Toro plants throughout the film. The Shape of Water is at once send-up of B-movie creature features and classic Hollywood musicals, an allegory of oppressed minorities during the Cold War, a deconstruction of the American dream, and a dark fairy tale romance. (Hoai-Tran Bui)
Del Toro has created a movie that feels like a cross between Amelie, Cinema Paradiso and Creature from the Black Lagoon. How does a filmmaker convince anyone to make this movie? Perhaps because this might just be del Toro’s best movie yet. It’s a story about wanting to be loved, wanting to belong, wanting to feel human. It’s a story that has characters getting lost in the magic of movies, the possibility of unrequited love, and the allure of the unknown. It’s everything del Toro loves rolled into one beautiful, wonderful package. Oh, and it has one of the most gorgeous scores in recent memory. (Ethan Anderton)
Why waste $150 million on a remake of The Mummy when Guillermo del Toro can remake The Creature From the Black Lagoon as a fairy tale melodrama about about a mute woman who falls in love with a beautiful fish-man held captive in the government facility where she scrubs the toilets? This tale of men and monsters and the blurry line that divides them is the modernized take on the classic Universal Monsters formula that we need, a creepy and sincere and wholly empathetic creature feature that is about loving who you want to love and not letting society dictate your desires. (Jacob Hall)
3. The Big Sick
And while the key romance encounters a serious obstacle in the middle of this movie, the film is just as much a love story between a man and his parents as it is between a man and his girlfriend. Spending time with Kumail’s (often hilarious) family reveals his burden of living with cultural expectations, all handled fairly and humorously by the film without painting one side or the other as being wrong or unreasonable. Relatable, heartbreaking, and laugh out loud funny, this is one of the most purely enjoyable times at the movies I had all year. (Ben Pearson)
The highest praise I can give The Big Sick is that you can place it side-by-side with the greatest rom-coms of all time and realize that yeah, it belongs in that company. Michael Showalter’s film is hilarious and sweet and sad, a movie that hits just enough familiar beats to feel comforting while straying from the path and into enough specific tangents to feel proudly unique and personal. The screenplay by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon (adapting how the couple actually met in real life) is a low-key triumph, as are the lovely, natural performances from Nanjiani, Ray Romano, and Holly Hunter. (Jacob Hall)
Along with the romance comes ample laughs. Rarely has a movie ever made me laugh so hard, especially with one of the funniest 9/11 jokes ever told, before making me cry. Helping in both regards are Holly Hunter and Ray Romano as Emily’s parents, who are responsible for plenty of big laughs themselves, but also some of the more tender moments. It all makes for a perfect storm of love and laughs. (Ethan Anderton)
The Big Sick has so much greatness and all of the elements I usually look for in a film I see at Sundance. The film tells the story of up-and-coming Pakistani-American comedian Kumail Nanjiani (based on his real-life experience) who meets and dates a white woman named Emily (Zoe Kazan) who would never get the approval of his traditional family. When Emily contracts a severe illness, Kumail finds himself forced to be there for the girl, confronting her parents and his family’s expectations. The film is one of the most hilarious, touching, authentically charming movies I saw in 2017. (Peter Sciretta)
2. Get Out
This movie gave a voice to an underserved audience at a time when their existence was continually devalued by people in power, and the rich metaphors of this film provide multiple layers to dig into beyond its surface appeal. There’s something to say for coming up with an A+ premise and then nailing the execution, and Get Out feels like the work of a seasoned filmmaker instead of a debut effort from an up-and-coming director. Jordan Peele has arrived, and Hollywood better get used to him because he’s going to be around for a long time to come. (Ben Pearson)
But Get Out is more than a great movie. Get Out is a movie that changed me. After watching it, I knew that it was brilliant, but I couldn’t articulate why it was great beyond its gleeful genre pleasures. So I started reading and I started listening. I sought out writers of color who could shed light on what makes this movie so important. I read pieces from folks different than me whose personal and cultural perspectives illuminated details that I, as a clueless white man, never would have caught. Get Out encouraged me to open my ears and my eyes and listen to people, all so I could better appreciate the scariest, funniest, angriest movie of 2017. It’s made me a better person. (Jacob Hall)
How refreshing it is to watch a horror movie with something on its mind. More often than not, horror is a genre that buckles under the pressure of trends – a glimpse at the scary movie output of the last decade is riddled with by-the-numbers creepshows that are solely committed to loud, inconsequential jump-scares rather than thoughtful explorations of fear. It seems only appropriate that the filmmaker to give the horror movies a much-needed shot in the arm is someone who wasn’t primarily associated with the horror genre. Jordan Peele’s Get Out is a twisted, funny, scary, socio-political commentary that continually surprises from scene to scene. (Chris Evangelista)
Get Out was the best experience I had seeing a movie in a theater this year. Jordan Peele crafted a densely layered narrative that is somehow both a crowd-pleasing horror film and a sharp commentary on systemic race and privilege, turning racial microaggressions into tangible plot points. And nothing will beat seeing it with a crowd of anxious moviegoers, gasping and clapping at every plot twist. (Hoai-Tran Bui)
Rife with social commentary that is perfectly blended with a genre that is often lambasted for its insignificance and lack of creativity, Get Out takes horror tropes that have been present for years and turns them on their heads by making them part of a plot that resonates with today’s society in a way that you might not expect. (Ethan Anderton)
1. The Florida Project
Sean Baker’s film is a profoundly human, emotionally devastating depiction of life on the periphery. However, it never veers into overly sentimental or grim territory, instead presenting a story of Florida’s hidden homeless through the fanciful eyes of a child, played with astounding grace by newcomer Brooklynn Prince. The Florida Project is the most sincere and authentic film of the year, aided by the unpretentious performances from a cast that Baker largely plucked from the streets. Coupled with the astonishing career-best turn of Willem Dafoe as the strict but compassionate motel manager, The Florida Project is a near-perfect film. (Hoai-Tran Bui)
In The Florida Project, director Sean Baker brings his camera down low to the ground, better putting the audience in the eye-line of a child. This one simple decision effectively transports us into the film’s world – a world of run-down motels, abandoned properties, and souvenir stands, all nestled within miles of Walt Disney World. That Magic Kingdom colors nearly every element of this film; it’s a dream, not-too-distant yet worlds away, that looms over the lives of the people here struggling to get by. Baker’s film doesn’t glamorize poverty, nor does it cast judgement. Instead, it presents a less-than-desirable way of live through the eyes of children, who are blissfully unaware of whatever financial means their families lack, and instead are wholly engaged in a world where some magic is still very much a reality. Newcomer Brooklynn Prince delivers a performance so real, no natural, that it makes actors three times her age seem almost amateurish. (Chris Evangelista)
What’s most heartbreaking about The Florida Project is the pure glee and fancifully clueless nature of Moonee and her friends living in poverty without really knowing it. That makes the revelation of her situation all the more shattering when the life that she knows and loves is nearly upended. This movie is somehow uplifting and totally heart-wrenching all at once, and it’s pretty much a perfect movie. (Ethan Anderton)
I’m just going to focus in on a single scene. Gruff but kind-hearted motel manager Bobby Hicks (Willem Dafoe) is working in his office when a gaggle of children, led by the adorable and abrasive Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) barge in, looking for a place to play hide and seek. Bobby is annoyed and demands they go elsewhere. They don’t listen and crawl under his desk. Quietly admitting defeat, Bobby just asks them to not mess with his computer cords. Right on cue, his monitor is pulled across his desk. But while Bobby is clearly irritated, Dafoe allows a smile to creep across his face – this is a distraction and an annoying one, but goddamn it, he loves these kids. And he knows they live in abject poverty, spending their days hanging around the crappy motels (15 minutes from Walt Disney World) that many impoverished central Florida families call home. He knows that these kids mean well, that they’re blissfully ignorant of what they do not have. And who is he to stand in the way of them being happy, just for now? Because it’s not going to last. All of this is communicated in a smile from Dafoe, giving the warmest (and possibly best) performance of 2017. Sean Baker’s The Florida Project is a machine powered by empathy and Bobby Hicks is its avatar. (Jacob Hall)
Every time I go to Disney World, I drive by the cheap tourist spots and motels that surround the Disney property and wonder who goes there. Who lives there? Filmmaker Sean Baker finally tells this story, and sets it from the point of view of a precocious six-year-old, played brilliantly by newcomer Brooklynn Prince. This isn’t a typical slum-porn indie drama thanks this brilliant framing, which presents this story from the eyes of an innocent child who has no idea how bad of a hand she has been dealt. It’s an honest portrait of the low-class American childhood, smartly positioned right next to the happiest place on the planet. (Peter Sciretta)
The Russo Brothers were actually able to redeem Avengers: Age of Ultron with their work on Captain America: Civil War, and they’re back to direct the next two Avengers films. Chris Evans, who everyone knows better as Captain America, opens up about the upcoming Avengers flick and how Marvel has been pumping out hit after hit.
Talking during the Ace Comic-Con (via ComicBook), Evans talks about working on his last two Avengers films:
“That was the best part of this movie, is that you really kind of, it really was for the first time for me feeling like… the first few movies it’s almost like it’s happening to somebody else. You kind of feel like you’re watching it happen, but you’re not actually a part of it. This was kind of the first movie where you actually felt like you had a seat at the table and you belonged and it was so nice to have all these other franchises that you’ve watched and admired come to a set where you’re like oh man, I belong here, and all these great people are part of a movie that we’re all doing together, and it was just wonderful because all of those franchises, well, let’s be honest. Marvel doesn’t miss. They haven’t missed yet. They’re batting a thousand.”
I don’t know how they do that. They don’t miss and so to see all these actors come together from all these other franchises that I’ve seen as fans be exchanging dialogue with me was overwhelming and really just so satisfying because really truly, there’s not one bad apple.”
With Captain America having to share some screentime with a lot of heroes, it would be understandable that some of his character development can be thrown out the window. With this film having twice the number of characters, I wonder how the Russo Brothers plan to do this complicated juggling act of keeping every character relevant. At least they have each other to bounce ideas off of as compared to Joss Whedon who had to shoulder everything himself.
Like everyone else, I’m excited for the release of this film. It’s the start of the end of Phase 3, and we could be saying goodbye to come characters that have been with us for about a decade. Let’s just hope it sets up everything nicely for Phase 4.
There have been a lot of great casting choices in comic book movies. We have Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Heath Ledger as the Joker, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man…but the list goes on and on. But there are some comic book movie casting choices that make you go, “what the heck were they thinking?” Whether it’s a great actor being horribly miscast or a mediocre actor dealing with more than they can handle, these casting decisions are just baffling.
Let’s take a look at some of the weirder casting choices Marvel and DC have made.
#1- David Thewlis as Ares
David Thewlis is a great actor and a distinguished gentleman. But there is absolutely no way to buy him as the terrifying Greek God of War. This was part of the Wonder Woman movie’s intention-the twist was that he was the last person you’d expect to be Ares due to his proper appearance.
But the “twist” doesn’t change the fact that once Thewlis starts fighting Wonder Woman, it’s impossible to take him seriously or mentally connect him to Ares. He looks nothing like the guy in the comics and he doesn’t have the massive, oppressive presence needed for a larger-than-life supernatural character. He seems to try to compensate for this by chewing scenery and just comes off as sort of comical as a result.
It’s possible the twist could have worked a lot better if it had been developed more as part of the narrative and Thewlis had played more of a strategic, behind-the-scenes take on the war god, manipulating people to fight Wonder Woman and sinsterly pulling puppet strings rather than fighting her head-on. But seeing Thewlis brawling head to head with Diana and screaming his head off? It just looks ludicrous.
#2- Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor
Jesse Eisenberg shines in other brainy roles, as seen in The Social Network, but he is not at all the right fit for Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. He lacks the smooth, sinister maturity people associate with the character. Granted, Zack Snyder’s take on Luthor seemed to be deliberately different from the one everyone was used to- but that wasn’t neccessarily a good decision This young and awkward Lex Luthor just didn’t take for me and a lot of other people.
A combination of Eisenberg’s acting and Snyder’s writing made the character come off as hyperactive, cartoonish and bit like a maniacal chipmunk. It was especially jarring considering the movie was otherwise dark and melancholy. It was trying very hard to be a “serious, adult” superhero movie, but Eisenberg’s over-the-top antagonist felt like it belonged in a kiddie film.
#3- Jared Leto as the Joker
Oh boy. Where do we even start with Jared Leto as the Joker in Suicide Squad? Even before the movie aired, he was a controversial casting choice due to his questionable behavior on set. His actions, which including sending used condoms to crewmates, came off less like “method acting” and more like “an excuse to harass people”. Not to mention the “edgy” statements Leto made while pretending to be a Joker that came off as a Hot Topic obsessed 12 year old’s tryhard ramblings. Here’s one example of Leto’s antics from the director:
“One time I yelled ‘cut’ and Jared turned to me and said ‘what if someone just stood in the middle of Wall Street and yelled cut? Maybe the monkeys in suits would forget their trained routine of going to work’ My jaw hit the floor and it never really came back up. That’s when I thought, is he getting in character to play Joker, or is Joker something that’s been in him all along?”
“Sometimes i would go to look into the cameras, and I noticed Jared had put something in the lens. It was stuff like ‘What if cameras were guns? Would you buy a mass murderer?’ and ‘Lights. Camera. Insanity.’ I had to ask him to stop because I was getting too scared to direct.”
Needless to say, these antics came off more a laughably faux-edgy than “terrifying”. And that bore out in the movie itself. For a lot of people, myself included, Leto’s performance as the Joker really did seem like a shallow, Hot Topic version of the character.
#4- Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One
At this point, I’m thinking leaving the Ancient One out together would have been preferable to Swinton’s casting in Doctor Strange. Even those who don’t agree with me that whitewashing is bad have to be tired of the endless arguing. Considering the lack of positive Asian characters in the MCU, Swinton’s casting was just salt in the wound for many fans. And in the end, was it worth it? Swinton’s Ancient One wasn’t the complex representation of women the director promised. Her role was flat and honestly didn’t manage to add much to the movie.
#5- Jennifer Garner as Elektra
Jennifer Garner has what it takes to play a badass karate-chopping lady, her starring role in Alias proves that. However, she isn’t the right pick for the ice-cold Elektra. Garner has a bit of a relatable girl-next-door vibe about her and that doesn’t fit the mysterious assassin in any way. As Sydney Bristow in Alias, Garner was able to balance toughness and vulnerability to make a relatable character. But Elektra’s vulnerability is deep, deep down under a crusty shell and Garner couldn’t really pull that off. Her acting in Elektra comes off as stiff and emotionless as a result.
It didn’t help that she had an absolutely abysmal script to work with alongside some very poorly choreographed action sequences. Poor Jen was just not in a great position overall.
#6- Nicolas Cage as Ghost Rider
Oh, Nic Cage. You’re so stoic. And in this movie, so ridiculous. It is pretty hard to take you seriously as Ghost Rider. The Ghost Rider movies are incredibly campy and they can be fun if you like that sort of thing. However, as far as I can tell, they’re not campy on purpose. Nic Cage’s performance as Johnny Blaze is so-bad-it’s-good, but he was clearly just trying to be plain old good.
Johnny Blaze is supposed to be young, impulsive and wild. Cage comes off as a middle-aged man trying super hard to be cool and failing spectacularly. Cage seems to adore the character and the comics, but he was just not the right fit for the role at all.
#7- Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze
Arnold certainly played a version of Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin, but it wasn’t a version that was particularly compelling or anything like fans wanted to see. His campy, cartoonish, over-the-top ice-punning take on the character just repelled fans. The darker, more tragic take on the character in Batman: The Animated Series just very much overshadows the caricature that Schwarzenegger ‘s Freeze was. While there are a lot of things that fans hated about Batman and Robin, Freeze might be the most memorably cringe-y part.
And really, there was no way Arnold could have ever delivered a more nuanced take on the character. You don’t cast Arnold unless you want to ham it up, so he definitely hammed it up all he could as Freeze. While I think Clooney could have been an okay Batman if given the chance, I just can’t say in good conscience Arnold S. could ever work as the serious version of Freeze fans desire. Also, Freeze’s costume almost killed the poor man.
#8- Topher Grace as Venom
Eddie Brock is supposed to be an intimidating scary hunk of a man. Topher Grace is…decidedly not that. In Spider-Man 3, he comes off as more cocky, smarmy and obnoxious than scary. Even in his Venom suit, he was more laughable than threatening. He just couldn’t capture the darkness and instability that defines the character and the rushed script didn’t help matters. Eddie Brock is also supposed to be a contrast to Peter Parker. He’s the muscular heavy hitting jock jock to Peter’s agile and slim nerd. Grace, meanwhile, was hard to differentiate from Toby Maguire physique wise. The contrast between the two characters just isn’t there.
#9- Halle Berry as Storm
Honestly, I don’t think anything was wrong with Halle Berry as Catwoman. Halle Berry nearly won an Oscar once, so the woman can definitely act. There was just absolutely no one in the universe who could have made that poorly written mess of a role work. Berry tried her best and was even gracious enough to accept a Razzie for the performance.
However, while I have nothing against Berry as an actress, for whatever reason she just doesn’t work as Storm.
I’m not sure why Berry was lacking in her performance as Storm, but she was. She just couldn’t seem to capture the regal nature of the character and her accent wasn’t terribly convincing either. She delivered a lot of her lines rather stiffly, including the infamous “do you want to know what happens to a toad when it’s struck by lightning?” But again to be absolutely fair, no amount of acting skill could have made that line work.
She doesn’t even really look much like the character, whose skin is generally much darker in the comics. For whatever reason, the X-Men franchise seems to be sticking to the “but not too black” role with Storm, as all of the people cast for the role have been significantly lighter that the character is portrayed in the comics themselves.