By Joe Frost
“The Avengers” is the movie event of the month. In any other year it would be the movie event of the year hands-down but with Ridley Scott’s “Alien” universe film “Prometheus”, as well as Christopher Nolan’s final Batman effort both due out later this year, Avengers comes with the ‘month’ qualifier.
Regardless, since it was announced in 2008, The Avengers has been one of the most anticipated films of the year and, based on box office receipts after barely a week, it has absolutely lived up to the hype.
I felt the strongest point of the film was Joss Whedon’s screenplay and direction – managing to give almost equal screen time to all (Iron Man may have received 12% to the other characters’ 10%) but more importantly, getting the most out of actors who all had either a chequered, troubled or non-existent (Hollywood) past.
(Above is the trailer for anyone who’s been living under a rock for the last few weeks. Or, in the case of my brother, has a real job and concerns besides the latest Superhero film.)
Iron Man played by Robert Downey Jnr
Disclosure – I believe the secret to being a true artist is, at some time in your career, to have battled/enjoyed heroin addiction.
Downey Jnr is a little like David Bowie in that he’s constantly changing (is anyone else sick of Madonna always getting the credit for that?) In the 70’s he was child actor Bob Downey. In the 80’s he was part of the cast which saved Saturday Night Live from oblivion before establishing himself as one of Hollywood’s hottest young character actors. The early 90’s saw him convert his “hottest” tag to “respected” after his Academy Award nominated turn as Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin.
Then, well, he kinda went missing for a while. Heroin, it seems, is a demanding mistress and his lifestyle, as he explained it to a judge, was “like I’ve got a shotgun in my mouth with my finger on the trigger, and I like the taste of the gun metal.”
That same judge sentenced him to three years in prison, of which he served a little less than a year.
It was around about this time I began noticing Robert. I remembered him from “Heart and Souls” but apart from that, the only times I’d seen him on the screen were his mug shots on the news. Even to a teenager, it seemed Downey Jnr was not long for this world.
Instead, since 2003 and with the help of Mel Gibson, he has turned his life around and is now the star of the Iron Man (and some would argue the Avengers) series, as well as Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes series. Both Iron Man 3 and Sherlock Holmes 3 are in preproduction.
The Hulk played by Mark Ruffalo
Disclosure – I have previously confused Mark Ruffalo with David Schwimmer, a younger Ray Romano and an older Zach Braff.
If anyone stole the show from Robert Downey Jnr, it was Mark “I’m the guy you barely noticed in every movie you’ve seen in the past 20 years” Ruffalo. His turn as Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk (or as he referred to his green alter-ego “the other guy”) was the perfect mix of dead pan humour and understated pain. But then what else would be expected from one of Hollywood’s most unnoticed actors?
(Photo by Ambro - http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1499)
After Downey Jnr (and, obviously, Samuel L. Jackson), Ruffalo is far and away the most experienced and decorated actor of the Avengers. His IMDb page dates back to 1989 and has 55 entries.
Thing is, of the 55, there’s not a single starring part in a respectable movie among them. I’m sure he may have been a fantastic lead in “Mirror Mirror 2: Raven’s Dance” or perhaps in “The Last Big Thing” but based on his listing on IMDb and their respective posters, I don’t care.
But have a look at the list of films in which he’s had bit-parts: “54”, “The Last Castle”, “Windtalkers”, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, “Collateral”, “Zodiac”, “Where the Wild Things Are”, “Shutter Island” and “The Kids are Alright” (for which he received an Academy Award nomination).
How many of those films have you seen? Did you honestly remember him from any of them (aside from the last two)?
Hollywood’s forgotten man tackled Marvel’s most challenging role – the seemingly cursed The Hulk – a character neither Eric Bana nor Ed Norton could make their own.
Yet Ruffalo owned it.
Thor played by Chris Hemsworth
Disclosure – Chris Hemsworth is one of those dudes who makes me question my sexuality.
(Photo by Ronald Woan - Wikimedia commons)
Tall, blonde and sculpted like a Michelangelo (I get my girlfriend to proof read my work, questions about lights being turned off when becoming amorous were asked after this sentence), I don’t know anyone who could possibly have played Thor other than Chris Hemsworth.
Hemsworth first came to prominence in Australia and England playing Kim in Aussie soap “Home and Away”. While “Home and Away” was the birth place of the careers of actors such as Heath Ledger, Julian McMahon, Ryan Kwanten and Naomi Watts, the show’s been on for 25 years – the vast majority of actors have been rubbish.
But I remember watching Hemsworth in 2004 and thinking, this bloke is far too good for Summer Bay.
Hemsworth left the soap in 2007 to pursue his career in America. He made his mark playing the role of George Kirk in JJ Abraham’s 2009 “Star Trek” and, while his career is barely embryonic, he has made a mark over the past two years arguably as big as Sam Worthington.
Playing Thor was always going to be the hardest of the Avengers to make a man’s man – a Norse god doesn’t have the same scope as three flawed human beings with extraordinary powers. Nevertheless, Hemsworth’s surprising comic timing helped make the easily inaccessible Thor a fun character.
Black Widow played by Scarlett Johansson
Disclosure – Scarlett Johansson is one of those women who makes me absolutely certain of my sexuality.
(Straight ‘n’ sleazy!)
As Black Widow… You know what, this is a pointless exercise. Scarlett Johansson is arguably one of the most talented actresses of her generation and possibly the most beautiful woman on the planet.
Sweet Jesus, she makes beating people up with a chair sexy!
Captain America played by Chris Evans
Disclosure – I didn’t see “Captain America: The First Avenger”. I was washing my hair that night.
Chris Evans first popped up on my radar playing “reformed cool guy” Jake Wyler in “Not Another Teen Movie” (in which his nemesis was a famed “blonde guy”).
While most of these “Not Another…” style spoof films are a series of poorly executed and even more poorly stitched together sketches, “Teen Movie” was actually pretty good. The proof of this is the fact that a number of members of its cast – such as Jaime Pressley, Chyler Leigh and Eric Christian Olsen – have gone on to bigger and better things.
Evans then struggled along for a few years, making a few crappy films before landing the role of Johnny Storm, AKA the Human Torch, in The Fantastic Four films.
Though the Fantastic Four films consisted of two decidedly non-fantastic instalments, they were a fantastic leg-up for Evans for one great reason – the Fantastic Four was a comic creation of Stan Lee and, as such, put Chris in Marvel studios’ stable.
(Photo by Frederik Hermann, Wikimedia Commons)
While Evans played the humble, all-American hero really well, it was nevertheless funny to remember him as Jake Wyler, the jock quarterback who uttered the line “that cute little face she makes when she’s tonguing my balls.”
Maria Hill played by Cobie Smulders
Disclosure – I think Cobie Smulders is just awful.
I’ve subjected myself to six-odd seasons of “How I Met Your Mother” and wrote about how my only real beef with the show was the creepy premise (I’d link to the article but it was on a competing, far less awesome site so here it is in a nutshell – seven seasons in and Ted hasn’t met his kids’ mother, so he’s just telling his kids about all the random women he banged in his younger years). This article was only a half-truth because I have two problems with the show, the premise and Cobie Smulders.
Cobie Smulders plays the character of Robin on HIMYM and in a show in which the central character is played by one of the less-talented actors from “Not Another Teen Movie”, she is by far the worst.
(The only thing she’s got going for her is she’s married to Jimmy the Overly Touchy Orderly.)
If you’ll excuse a brief wearing of my male-chauvinist pants, she’s barely TV hot. Seriously, famed geek pin-up Alyson Hannigan (Lily from HIMYM) schools her.
Anyway, true to form, In Avengers Cobie Smulders was just awful. To prepare for the role, she claims “I hired this amazing black-ops trainer to teach me how to hold a gun, take me to a shooting range, how to hit, how to hold myself, how to walk and basically how to look. I don’t do a ton of fighting in the movie, which is why I wasn’t offered a trainer, but I wanted to look like I had the ability to.”
For the majority of the film she stood with her hands behind her back. Rather than hire a black-ops trainer, she should have hired a basic acting coach to teach her how to not… God I don’t know, how to just not be terrible I guess.
She has two modes of vocalizing – talking and whining. Seriously, at the moments in which S.H.I.E.L.D. are under attack her response is to whine as loudly as possible.
Standing in a cast made up of genuine and soon-to-be stars, she was horribly out of her depth. Thankfully director Whedon was kind enough not to put her on-screen next to Johansson.
That would have just been cruel.
Final disclosure – While I wrote this article in part due to the interesting paths these actors trod before becoming Avengers, mostly I wrote it to let off a little steam over Cobie Smulders.
Man she’s terrible.