Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Thoughts on Cap, Gladiators and Actors in Comic Movies

You know, when I was wracking my brain for people appropriately big and pretty enough, I kept trying to think of wrestlers but I totally forgot that with American Gladiators back on the air, there's a whole new generation of impossibly pretty muscular people back in the spotlight! (I don't think it's necessarily enough

And clearly someone remembers that.

That...looks like a really good casting choice to me. Admittedly, I have no idea how well he can act, but I'm not really sure that Cap is a role that really requires a lot of acting talent. Tony, sure, because Tony's got all those flaws and unconventional appeal, but Steve's a sweet-tempered earnest fellow who's thrust into situations that are brand new and unfamiliar to him (be it the war or modern day). I think as long as an actor has the capacity to play earnest, open and genuine, he'll probably do fine.

That guy's got the right coloring, build and is very nice to look at (Especially on his IMDB page. I don't even tend to LIKE over-muscular men, but WOW!). He looks like he could fill out a Cap costume well, and well, even if it does look silly, it can't look sillier than some of the crap I remember people wearing on the old American Gladiators. (I haven't seen the new one, but I'm guessing it's much the same.) So he should be able to carry a goofy costume off without being too "I'm wearing a goofy costume" about it.

As long as he doesn't completely suck in the acting department, he should be a good choice. And even if it goes to someone else, it does at least seem to indicate they're taking the right tack.

I think I disagree with the first commenter on the newsarama post:

I think the more successful comic book adaptations have proved that it’s better to get a real actor and hire them a personal trainer, than get a bodybuilder and hire them an acting coach.

You know, I see what he's saying, but... when it comes down to it I think all we have to do is look at Halle Berry, Jennifer Garner, Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Eric Bana, Ben Affleck, George Clooney, David Hasselhoff, Matt Salinger, Nicolas Cage, and so on and so forth to realize that there are plenty of comic book adaptations that sucked even with a "real actor" in the role.

Lynda Carter was more beauty queen than actress and I don't think there'll ever be a more iconic Wonder Woman (heh, Cathy Lee Crosby was more the actress, and look how THAT turned out.) All the sequels seem to indicate that Arnold Schwarzenegger was a fairly decent Conan. Brigitte Nielsen had never acted at all before Red Sonja.

Actually, thinking about it. I think there's a fairly good argument that on average the non-actor comic book movies tend to have better decent performance/movie : sucktastic performance/movie ratio. That's funny!

This isn't to say I think characters like Wolverine or Tony Stark could be pulled off by non-actors. But Cap? I think Cap could swing it.

Also, honestly, I think there's no way that even the fittest actor with the best personal trainer ever would seriously be able to pull off a serum-enhanced perfect physique. It's not happening. You need someone who's sculpted and used those muscles every day of their life and looks it. You really do need a Mr. Universe.

Besides, worst case scenario, Gladiator-guy does suck, then he spends the majority of the Avengers movie looking pretty in ice, posing, or chucking a shield at things while the good actors do the talking. It'll work. :-)

(Disclaimer: I very much enjoyed Nick Fury Agent of Shield, both Fantastic Four movies, Ghost Rider, and even Daredevil. But I won't delude myself into thinking they're not awful, regardless. :-))


  • At May 26, 2008 11:10 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    This could work. And I really don't mind it so much if my comic book movies aren't of Oscar-caliber, because they are supposed to be a little cheesy. And there's nothing I love more than good cheese.

    Heck, my favorite superhero movie is the Batman movie with Adam West, Caesar Romero, Lee Merriweather, Frank Gorshin and Burgess Meredith. It was magNIFicently cheesy.

  • At May 26, 2008 11:59 AM, Blogger Rob Rogers said…

    I think any decent comic book movie really needs three big influences: good writing, good direction, and good acting. (They also need a certain respect for and understanding of the source material).

    WAY too many of them drop the ball on the first one and then it's all over. You mentioned Halle Berry, and she's a decent actress in certain roles (Monster's Ball, of course, being a great example). But she apparently needs good, strong direction. She was a wretched sore thumb in the X-Men where a more gifted actress (or one with better direction) could have made the same part work.

    Anyway, I can't see Captain America being successful as a movie franchise without all three of the above. Even a good script and decent director will be sorely challenged if the actor is wooden.

  • At May 26, 2008 12:08 PM, Blogger tavella said…

    Arggh. No. No. No. To make Captain America work as anything but cheesy crap, you need an _actor_. A good one. Not a damn wrestler!

    You need someone who can project inner life, little moments of sorrow at the loss of everything he's known, the subtle touches of humor that underlies even the old golden age issues, someone who can give a sense of complication to a character that is *not* the patriotic cartoon that the name suggests.

    If they cast a wrestler, it will be a crappy movie. And downright embarrassing if he's supposed to act on the same screen as Robert Downey and Edward Norton.

    Why, oh why, do people keep trying to cast for physique? An actor can bulk up, an actor can dye their hair, a wrestler cannot learn to act -- even the Rock, the best of them, is only an adequate actor.

  • At May 26, 2008 1:04 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Tavella: all actors had to start somewhere. Many got their start doing modeling and other such things.

    Some were teachers for example. AG and Wrestling are just another starting place. With the added advantage of having to play some moderate character roles and be comfortable in silly looking clothes.

    I don't think it's fair to dismiss someone as a bad actor because we haven't seen them really act.

    And I reiterate, no actor's going to be able to "bulk up" enough to play Cap seriously. Whereas an athlete can learn to portray quiet moments like sorrow and humor. He may not be able to deliver a soliloquy of the sort required for Iron Man or Hulk.

    But Cap doesn't require a soliloquy to play. He requires a human touch. Besides, I thought he was surprisingly decent in that World's Finest trailer thing and a better director could refine that more.

  • At May 26, 2008 1:22 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    This post is followed up here.


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