*If there is one thing I love more than talking about movies, its making lists ABOUT movies…or anything in general. No greater good in this world (bar my g/f) gives me more pleasure than an awesome top ten list.
With The Avengers coming out this week, there was a lot of talk about it being the greatest superhero film of all time…that’s a list for another time, but the film does hold one of the most impressive casts that ever has been put together for a Comic Book Film. Names like Sam Jackson, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johannson, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Hemsworth…so in this top ten list we look at ten of the greatly casted superhero characters of all time…well at least for now.
With a film as flawed as the Fantastic Four films, they manage to get one thing right and that was casting the great Michael Chiklis as “The Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing” In the comic books, Ben Grimm aka The Thing is a man from Brooklyn and that’s all you need to know, because even after his transformation into a rock like creature, he keeps his Brooklyn accent and attitude. That is exactly what Chiklis brought to the role, with a character that could have been done in CGI like The Hulk, Chiklis sat through the makeup process to be put in a prosthetic Thing like costume with gravely skin and big teeth and even with that and some spotty script writing, Chiklis shines through as Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew.
09) Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus
There are only three villains represented on my list, and Doctor Octopus is the first to show up and rightfully show as the talented Alfred Molina plays him. In the comics Doc Ock was always seen as the second biggest foe in Spider-Man’s rogue gallery, but in the films is where Ock took center stage. Spider-Man 2 is considered one of the greatest superhero films of all time, thus meaning at this moment the greatest Spider-Man film and that has a lot to do with Molina’s both monstrous and heart breaking role as the tortured Doctor Octopus. Alfred Molina as the great Doctor provided so many classic moments in the one film, the fight on the train with Spider-Man, the awaken of his metal arms, the mid air fight, and the bank robbery. While I’m not a fan of seeing villains killed off, Doc Ock went out on his own terms something you don’t see very often and that has a lot to do with the motivation and acting ability of Alfred Molina behind the role, making Doc Ock both murderous man and a sympathetic character at the same time.
Watchmen the graphic novel is a piece of literature, yes comic books can be determined as literature. Watchmen the film is a pretty good movie, that like most comic book films has been overrated by it’s fan base. But something that the two have in common is the portrayal of the hardnosed; make no bones about it style “hero” known as Rorschach. He is famous for his mask that has an every changing and moving portrait of rorschach images going across it, but what made him stand out in the film amongst his other Watchmen is the actor Jackie Earle Haley. Former child star, Haley came back into prominence for his role as child molester in Little Children, which in some sick way perfectly was the stepping-stone to play the demented and righteous Rorschach. He took the character over, even though for 90% of his screen time you never see his face, but you forever feel his emotion and anger behind every spoken word. He is the driving force of the film and a wisely chosen central character perfectly played by a gifted actor.
Some might think casting Sam Jackson as the famously white Nick Fury was just a stroke of genius by the casting agents…they are half right. It was a stroke of genius, but the casting agents weren’t the one to do it, Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, creators of Marvel’s Ultimates (aka The Avengers in another Universe) did when they asked Jackson for permission to draw THEIR Nick Fury as a bald, black, “motherfuckin’” spewing S.H.I.E.L.D director…well maybe not “motherfuckin’ spewin’, but the rest is right. So when it came around to casting Fury for live action…they could of called David Hasselhoff up again, but they instead went for the baddest man on the planet, Mr. Mace Windu himself, Sam Jackson. And it worked time and time again. From the moment he shows up in Tony Stark’s house in Iron Man to him greeting Captain America in today’s world, Fury is an important piece of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a lot of that stands on the shoulders of Sam Jackson.
Heading into The Dark Knight before Ledger died, it was all about “Can Heath top what Jack did in Batman ‘89” After Heath decided to go and overdose, all the talk was about “Oh my god, can you believe his last and full performance as The Joker is so breathtakingly amazing.” Both had their own mark on the character. Jack was more in line of the late 70’s/early 80’s style Joker, while Heath embodied what Allen Moore created in The Killing Joker graphic novel. Neither performance is alike, and neither is worse than the other. Both stand on the mantle of amazing comic book casting decisions.
When you think of Ron Pearlman, you think of a man’s man, a drinker, cigar chomping badass, gravely voice, tall, frightening, yet charming all at the same time. So when you think of Hellboy, just take all those qualities and add red skin, tail, and giant fist and boom you have great casting. Pearlman IS Hellboy. Even if you know nothing about the characters comic history beyond his look, you can tell from the first 15 minutes of seeing Pearlman in that Hellboy makeup and outfit that he fits, you might not know why, but you just have this tingling feeling down in you no-no parts that tell you that nobody else but Ron Pearlman could pull this character off. If you never seen either Hellboy film’s before, take your time go order it on Netflix, or see if its on VOD, or just illegally watch it online, either way take in some devilsh good time with the only superhero that could look like the devil, but still love kittens.
You are not suppose to dethrone Sir. Ian McKellen in a role that he seemingly made famous for all viewing eyes…but relative and not such more now, new comer, Michael Fassbender did. While McKellen had three films to perfect the villainous ways of his Magento, Fassbender just needed one, X-Men: First Class. Every time I try to describe what Fassbender did in that film, I always come around to saying…it is what X-Men character would be like if written by Quentin Tarantino for a PG-13 film. Fassbender perfectly portrays the hurt and anger all at once as Magneto, with so many stand out scenes you lose count of.
Who is Hugh Jackman? That question was all over the comic chat rooms back in 1999, when his casting of famed and overly popular mutant, Wolverine, was announced. Nobody knew who this tall …(tall? Wolverine is suppose to be short, he’s going to suck.)…Australian…(Aussie? Fucken’ hell he’s Canadian, not some silly down under kangroo rauncher.)…singer (What? He dances and sings in musicals? Wolverine is not a FAGGOT!!)…was until X-Men came around in 2000 and shut all the fanboys the fuck up. Not one more word was mentioned about any of that stuff after Jackman wowed and countinuely amazed audiences with his bezerker rage and his physical apperance as a muscled up Canadian mutant who can kick your ass even without the claws in his hands.
Surprised to see Simmons ranked so high and above the likes of Jackman, Ledger, Jackson, and Haley? … well don’t be, cause Simmons in my minds eyes the most perfectly casted actor to a role in a superhero film there is. Yes, you read that correctly. While Ledger got an Oscar, while Jackman has his own franchise and while Jackson has acted as the character for four films…its Simmons who completely embodies the character into his performance. Anyone who knows Spidey knows J. Jonah Jameson …the sometimes evil owner of the Daily Bugle. The man the hate Spider-Man, but pays Peter Parker to take pictures for his business ….of Spider-Man. JK Simmons has played both JJJ on the big screen in Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and on the small screen in the latest Spidey cartoon, Ultimate Spider-Man. He was so significantly perfect for the role, they didn’t even both casting for a new JJJ in the new Amazing Spider-Man film out this summer. Its that much of a burden people. JK Simmons hands down in the best man for the job…and that job was to bring to justice that menace known as Spider-Man!!!!
01) Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
I don’t think you can underestimate how important this casting is to an entire brand, let alone a franchise. Without RDJ as Tony, we don’t get the charismatic Tony Stark that pops on the screen in the first Iron Man. Without that Iron Man film not blowing away expectations and doing BIG business, we don’t get a sequel and the Marvel brand name doesn’t go along with the likes of Thor and Cap. Without Iron Man being the success it was, we don’t get The Avengers…or at least don’t get the Avengers that WE got and god damn that was a pretty amazing Avengers movie we got. Robert Downey Jr. in some ways was the homerun swing by Marvel and Jon Favreau that helped transcend superhero films into the next decade as an even bigger medium then it was before.
Honorable Mentions: Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker, Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne, Christopher Reeve as Superman, Chris Evans as Human Torch AND Captain America, Tom HIddleston as Loki.