Once upon a time, an actor could be as plastic and one-dimensional in their superhero performance as their costume allowed. The script often required little delineation or thought put into it. The good guys are over here, the bad guys are over there, and we all sit through the three main acts before wrapping up a neat conclusion.
Thankfully we have moved on from the days when a Swedish martial artist like Dolph Lundgren could take the lead in 1989’s The Punisher, Lou Ferrigno with 1977’s The Incredible Hulk or George Clooney phoning it in for 1997’s disaster Batman & Robin. A bit of personality has to be brought to the table to make these figures as grounded in reality as humanly possible, even in a world of monsters and mutants.
Marvel and DC’s slated pictures will pack a lot of performances into the frame, particularly in a time of ensembles. The cute crossover teases are now over and the studios have gone all out to book as much talent into one movie as they can afford. It will be a sight to behold, but it won’t all be worth watching.
Here are 8 upcoming superhero performances that will suck and 7 that should be top class.
15 Will Suck - Ben Affleck In Justice League
The major let down with Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader is not that he can’t pull it off. It is that he falls short of his own high standards. Take note of his ruthlessness in the 2016 thriller The Accountant, 2012’s remarkable biopic Argo or playing the ambiguous teacher that people love to hate in Gone Girl – Affleck has the chops to be that older, and more beaten down Batman that will fit into this dynamic.
What makes you pessimistic about the actor’s chances when he reprises his role in the upcoming blockbuster Justice League is the man behind the camera. Zack Snyder is the common denominator from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, as the director failed to utilize the 44-year-old’s attributes by focusing on the CGI spectacle over the story and the human element.
14 Won't Suck - Josh Brolin In Deadpool 2
Fresh off the press in the past week that Josh Brolin would be back into the Marvel fold, the California native has secured the much sought after part of Nathan Summers/Cable in Deadpool 2. Getting the better of Pierce Brosnan, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon, Kyle Chandler, Brad Pitt and David Harbour to the role, the Sicario star will switch from the supervillain Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War to Ryan Reynolds’ time-traveling sidekick.
Brolin has that uncanny ability to make the audience empathize with his character, regardless of how questionable their actions have been. From fleeing certain death in No Country for Old Men to playing one of the most unpopular presidents in modern times with 2008’s W., Brolin will be the perfect fit for a hero that is jaded by the past and has a serious ax to grind.
13 Will Suck - Chris Evans In Avengers: Infinity War
May 4th, 2018 will be a sight to behold. The first extravaganza of the Marvel superheroes falling under one banner courtesy of The Avengers was one thing, but meshing The Guardians of the Galaxy next to Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Black Widow and Captain America for Avengers: Infinity War is sure to be something else altogether.
However, Chris Evans’ character has been exhausted for everything it is worth. His opening to the franchise was solid as The Winter Soldier offered a new narrative to explore with Bucky Barnes. But Steve Rogers has sacrificed his loyalty to the group by keeping Barnes alive and after the actor went public to say that he would not be renewing his contract after Infinity War Part 2, it is difficult to see how Evans steals any scenes in this ensemble picture.
12 Won't Suck - Kurt Russell In Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
Kurt Russell is an out-and-out superstar. The 66-year-old could easily rest on his laurels and enjoy retirement, but he is someone who is always out to add an extra string to his bow. As a Quentin Tarantino favorite and bonafide action lead, Russell will be a perfect addition to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in the role of Peter Quinn/Star-Lord’s father Ego the Living Planet.
The only bit of dialogue we’ve heard from the actor is the short statement, “After all these years I’ve found you. I’m your dad Peter.” Not a lot to judge by, right? Well if you’ve appreciated any of Russell’s past work, you will understand the depth and complexity the veteran offers. He has been a bad ass on the big screen for decades and there is no chance that will suddenly change for this Marvel romp.
11 Will Suck - Ezra Miller In Justice League
CW don’t have anything close to the budget that Warner Brothers or DC Films enjoys. Making the most out of their small screen run since 2014, the casting of Grant Gustin in the part of Central City’s finest police forensic investigator for The Flash has been a masterstroke, overlooking a number of shortcomings that cannot be papered over with masterful stagecraft or CGI. Is it any wonder then that fans of the comics and the show were puzzled that Ezra Miller secured the role as the speedster for Justice League?
As with any concern over an actor’s performance for the movie, much of the doubt and anxiety revolves around the filmmakers having too much input behind the scenes. Miller has shown an ability to be quirky and offbeat, characteristics that will serve him well as Allen. What Gustin has been able to perfect in the television series is an honesty and sincerity to the superhero, something that the 24-year old has yet to showcase in his limited career to date.
10 Won't Suck - Tom Holland In Spider-Man: Homecoming
In that spirit, Spider-Man is essentially Marvel’s answer to The Flash and while Tom Holland does not have any small screen peer to compare to, he does have the unenviable task of following Tobey McGuire and Andrew Garfield in quick succession. For all the success of the MCU, the role of Peter Parker has been in flux for years and it appears as though the 20-year old Englishman could be the ideal fit for the next decade or more.
Earning a small amount of screen time in Captain America: Civil War, Holland demonstrated a vulnerable, raw and exuberant character that was finding his place in the world. That is the perfect backdrop for Spider-Man: Homecoming, as he is mentored by Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark before encountering Michael Keaton’s villainous Vulture in his home surrounds of Queens. Bring on July 7!
9 Will Suck - Margot Robbie In Gotham City Sirens
To many observers, Margot Robbie was one of the more redeemable performers in the DC flop Suicide Squad. In that spirit, it might be an unpopular opinion to make public, but there is little chance her reprisal of Harley Quinn in the all-female spin-off Gotham City Sirens will be a success, portraying a manic, off-the-rails therapist that has become a casual killer in makeup on the streets of Gotham.
Director David Ayer is attached to the project and like any movie that is about to hit the big screen, fans should be as concerned, if not more so, of the individual manning the camera and script as they are about the people in front of it. Ayer made such a hash of the 2016 instalment that he issued a public apology to outline a string of regrets over how Warner Brothers strong-armed him over creative direction. What will change between now and this title?
8 Won't Suck - Gal Gadot In Wonder Woman
Gal Gadot has everything to be a star in the part of Diana Prince ahead of the DC blockbuster Wonder Woman premiering June 2. The 31-year-old Israeli has been accustomed to the bright lights of Hollywood and the big budget action scene ever since making her debut with 2009’s Fast & Furious. That can lay the foundation for her standalone picture after having a promising if not unfulfilled role in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
45-year old filmmaker Patty Jenkins will be out to prove her worth in the director’s chair and follows the disappointment from Zack Snyder with enough clarity and hindsight to make the character work for her. For the sake of the franchise this simply has to be a slam dunk for DC and with a suitable supporting cast on hand, we’re tipping a bright future for Gadot.
7 Will Suck - Henry Cavill In Justice League
Henry Cavill can win all of GQ Magazine’s Best Dressed awards as he likes, but being an interesting and complex superhero is simply not his bag. That critique should be directly aimed at the casting department of Warner Brothers and DC as they introduced a new Kal-El to the party that is as plastic as any action figure brought out by the marketers and toy companies.
The 33-year old Englishman always has the aesthetic of the ideal Superman. But cut away the set pieces and special effects and you are left with a man who pouts, squints and deadpans his scenes from beginning to end. There is no shift in character from the bumbling, clumsy Clark Kent that the late Christopher Reeve portrayed in the original run and while the worst kept secret that is not really a secret is out – Cavill will be back in some capacity for Justice League to be that dull, stiff superhero we’ve seen in Man of Steel and BvS.
6 Won't Suck - Benedict Cumberbatch In Avengers: Infinity War
If Tony Stark needed a run for his money on the ego front, then he might have met his match with Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange. That will be one of many interesting scenarios for Avengers: Infinity War as the Englishman transitions from his brilliant 2016 introduction to the 2018 ensemble.
Marvel and Disney took something of a gamble with Cumberbatch as a superhero, making the assumption that the Englishman’s dramatic credentials can be enough to play a witty, cunning and damaged sorcerer taught in the ways of the Ancient One.
As was teased in the credits sequence of Doctor Strange, he will be popping up in Thor: Ragnarok before crossing over yet again for the main entrée. Cumberbatch might be a mouthful to say, but the actor is a classy operator who mastered the source material early on and it will be a joy to see him in action again.
5 Will Suck - Jeremy Renner In Avengers: Infinity War
Next to the God of Thunder, Hulk, billionaire weapons engineer Tony Stark and Captain America, it is hard to stand out as an archer in The Avengers setup. That is the task that Jeremy Renner faces every time he steps back into the MCU as he is set to reprise his role as Clint Barton/Hawkeye in the epic Avengers: Infinity War.
Aside from rescuing Wanda from the watchful eye of Vision in Captain America: Civil War, there is not a scene where the former Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. member stands out. The 46-year old is a proven leading man in his own right and while he is happy to be a supporting player in this environment, he will only be more maligned in this film as Infinity War blends the Guardians of the Galaxy into the mix.
4 Won't Suck - Chadwick Boseman In Black Panther
40-year-old Chadwick Boseman has had to get into the MCU the hard way. Starting out his career with small cameos in productions like Law & Order, CSI: NY, ER, Cold Case and a memorable part as Vontae Mack in the 2014 drama Draft Day, the South Carolina native took one small step after the next before finding himself in the shoes of the Black Panther.
The character T’Challa takes himself incredibly seriously but as he showcased in Captain America: Civil War, he had every justification to carry out his own form of vigilante justice following the assassination of his father. Ryan Coogler’s 2018 instalment will be fascinating viewing as they switch to the sovereign state of Wakanda.
Boseman might not be a big deal right now, but when Black Panther debuts on February 16 next year, he will be.
3 Will Suck - Ray Fisher In Justice League
Outside of one episode for The Astronaut Wives Club, Ray Fisher has no acting credits in which to speak of. That is remarkable as he gears up for the part of Victor Stone/Cyborg in the DC and Warner Brothers title Justice League, literally going from an unknown quantity to pitting his skills against Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, and Jason Momoa among many others.
What would leave fans a little apprehensive about the 30-year-old being a success is a mixture of two things. The first of which is the character he is playing as well as those equipped with the screenplay and direction to give him the best chance of making it work. To be semi-robotic in this CGI setup is a concern and without a body of work in which to reference Fisher, it is highly questionable whether he can stand out in this picture.
2 Won't Suck - Robert Downey Jr. In Spider-Man: Homecoming
Robert Downey Jr. is at his absolute best in the MCU when he is the smart ass, rich, know-it-all weapons expert, and businessman Tony Stark. His talents begin to get lost in a wave of CGI and shaky cam when he dons the Iron Man suit, so it is incredibly encouraging that the shorts for Spider-Man: Homecoming showcase much more of the former and much less of the latter.
Stark is the role Downey Jr. was seemingly born to play, being a natural at the charismatic but tragic romantic who wants it all in life. It will be fascinating to see how he plays off with Tom Holland with more screen time, transitioning from the hero of the piece to the old, wide head that Peter Parker will need as he develops.
1 Will Suck - Chris Hemsworth In Thor: Ragnarok
Aside from one great line in the teaser trailer (“We know each other from work!”), what hope can we hold out that Chris Hemsworth will be the best part of Thor: Ragnarok? The character is perfect in The Avengers as he exchanges banter with Stark, Rogers and the gang, but in his own universe, he is little more than a big blonde brut carrying around his hammer.
A beefed up supporting cast with Mark Ruffalo, Jeff Goldblum, Cate Blanchett and Cumberbatch next to the returning names of Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, and Tom Hiddleston should help his cause. However, in an age of impressive and memorable Marvel performances, it is hard to pinpoint a moment or a scene where Hemsworth is the standout feature in a Thor movie. Not a great scenario given his two standalone movies, ensemble appearances, and counting.