Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Favorite Actor/Comic Book Character Combinations

This post is inspired by my recent viewing of LOGAN. While preparing it, I realized that there are not as many great superhero movie portrayals as I thought there were. Despite the popularity of the comic book movie genre, most folks seem to complain about certain actors playing certain comic book characters than commend their performances. I chalk that up to the Culture of Geekdom.

I limited myself to choosing from people who played an actual comic book character in a theatrical feature. That means I couldn't, for example, pick Christopher Walken as Max Shreck in BATMAN RETURNS. (That also means no TV portrayals.) Whenever I write one of these lists, I always seem to forget someone, and I probably will here. If you think I have overlooked a certain performance, any type of feedback will be appreciated.

1. Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine in multiple films
I firmly believe that the entire 21st Century era of comic book films started with X-MEN. The breakout performance in that film was Hugh Jackman as the Wolverine. The quality of the X-Men film series has varied over the years--but Jackman's Wolverine has remained constantly popular. I'm sure someone else will play the character someday--but I sure don't envy the person who will have to do it.

2. Adam West as Bruce Wayne/Batman in BATMAN (1966)
Before you even cry foul, remember that West did appear as Batman in a theatrically released film...and also remember that West still has had more impact in the role than all the other Batman actors put together.

3. Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America in multiple films
The steadfast, brave, and honest Captain, as portrayed by Evans, is a rarity among all the "troubled" superheroes we have seen on the big screen in the last few years. Evans has accomplished something rare these days in making a decent man believable without coming off as too goody-goody or stuck up. It sure would be nice if DC/Warners could show Superman the same way....

4. Jackie Earle Haley as Walter Kovacs/Rorschach in WATCHMEN
I'll state once again that WATCHMEN is one of the greatest comic book movies of all time. All of the Watchmen are intriguing in their own right, but for my money Rorschach is the most compelling character of all. Haley was perfect in showing the inner rage of a man who can't stand the society he lives in, yet still risks his life to protect it.

5. Jack Nicholson as the Joker in BATMAN (1989)
Yes, Heath Ledger was fantastic in THE DARK KNIGHT, but Nicholson was the real star of Tim Burton's much so that the Bat villains have been overshadowing the Caped Crusader on the big screen ever since.

6. Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man in multiple films
If Hugh Jackman's performance as Wolverine was of vital importance to the comic book movie genre as a whole, then so was Robert Downey's performance to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If the first IRON MAN movie had bombed, there may not even have been a MCU. When I first heard that Downey was going to be Iron Man, I thought the movie was going to be one big joke--but the actor got the last laugh, reviving his career and making Tony Stark his signature performance.

7. Christopher Reeve as Superman/Clark Kent in multiple films
Reeve was the ultimate Man of Steel--it's sad he didn't have the opportunity to be in the type of comic book movies they make today. The reason I don't rate Reeve's performance higher is that I've always thought his Clark Kent was far too nerdy.

Honorable Mention: Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier in multiple films; Ian McKellen as Eric Lensherr/Magneto in multiple films; Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow in multiple films; Gary Oldman as James Gordon in multiple films; Liam Neeson as Ra's Al Ghul in BATMAN BEGINS

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