When the Avengers star in serious non-superhero movies
Writer: Casey Lee
Chris Evans is an uncle in "Gifted".
Being a superhero is a multi-million dollar business, and it becomes the identity of those who played them. Look at what Iron Man has done for Robert Downey Jr. Not only has it rescued his acting career, but it even made him the highest paid actor for three consecutive years with a salary spiking up to USD80 million just for being in "Avengers: Age of Ultron".
But on the flip side, getting known for that one role can be detrimental to an actor's career, as their portfolio gets narrowed down to that single character and doing anything else would be unnoticed. As trained professionals of the craft, actors are naturally looking for something that would make better use of their acting chops than their costumes. Robert Downey Jr. himself has said that he is ready to hang his Iron Man suit in a couple more years, and the likes of Hugh Jackman have already said goodbye to their most iconic characters.
While Chris Evans is still not ready to give up his shield as Captain America, he and other members of Marvel's Avengers have certainly been making time to explore other roles they could play outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
With "Gifted", starring Chris Evans as an uncle and de facto guardian to a seven-year-old math prodigy, we look at some unheroic movies that star the cast members from the Avengers that you should check out, to see what they can do other than saving the world (or fighting each other)!
The God of Thunder will be striking lightning upon us with via "Thor: Ragnarok" this year, but Chris Hemsworth has been cashing on his natural charisma more than his acting chops in his career so far. Aside from his Marvel persona, Hemsworth has stuck to mostly blockbuster fares from "Star Trek", "Snow White and the Huntsman" to even an adorable role for the rebooted "Ghostbusters", or action-driven rides for "Black Hat", and "In the Heart of the Sea". Where we can see his most performance driven work is so far only in 2013's Golden Globe nominated "Rush", but it was not Hemsworth who got the nod for his performance. It is about time that Hemsworth step out to take a more serious role, and it is hopefully something he has been thinking about getting into after "Thor: Ragnarok".
If what Robert Downey Jr. said about his retirement plans from Iron Man is true, we could be looking at the last leg of appearances of him in the suit. However, Robert Downey Jr. is a far more practiced actor than most his avenging peers, if not for an addiction problem that would have destroyed his entire acting career. While Robert's current resume is filled with Marvel outings and briefly as the famed detective Sherlock Holmes, Robert has shown that he hasn't lost all of his acting touch by coming close to an Oscar for 2008's "Tropic Thunder", after breaking out once again in 2008's "Iron Man". However, to see how talented an actor Robert Downey Jr. once was and could certainly be again would be to look in his pre-Marvel days. Anyone who didn't realise how talented an actor he was should see his Oscar-nominated performance as the beloved thespian "Chaplin".
Chris Evans' acting career may be recognised for two things. First is his initial foray into this new-fangled thing called superheroes that wasn't a thing yet in the early 2000s ("Fantastic Four") and failed to ignite any real fandom for the genre. The second is where a naturally handsome actor like himself would do well; romances, where, arguably, Evans had enjoyed more sustainable successes than the former. Even after becoming the symbol of justice and freedom, as Captain America, Chris has still made time to be the fated lover in "Before We Go", the confused finder "Playing It Cool", and an evil ex for "Scott Pilgrim vs The World".
The Incredible Hulk
Another veteran among the rest of the Avengers, Mark Ruffalo may be the least attached to his Marvel counterpart, and having most of his appearance piled under a bulky CG exterior may have allowed him more time to work in other sets than the others. Without a running series of his own and only required to check in when there is a new assembly of Avengers, Ruffalo has certainly been plugging his Marvel downtimes with more serious work. Most recently, he was within Oscar range in 2015 and 2016 for his performances in based on true live stories "Foxcatcher" and "Spotlight" respectively, but he also delved as a person with a polarising mental disorder in "Infinitely Polar Bear" and porn addiction in "Thanks of Sharing".
Sexy Scarlett Johansson may have burst into the mainstream for her floor-clearing takedowns since 2010's "Iron Man 2" as agent Romanoff, but she has been raking in recognitions for her more serious works before she came to be known as Black Widow. Sadly, however, she has since transitioned into more action-based roles, leaving little space for her to get back into some serious acting except for Jonathan Glazer's "Under the Skin", and her voice acting for Spike Jonze's "Her".
Even since his Oscar nominated breakout in Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker", things have been looking up for the actor who has done considerable work so far. However, his next step towards the big-time as a leading man of his own franchise failed to ignite any real spark, and often considered to be the most dismissed member of the Avengers has not done any real favors for his popularity. Even so, that hasn't deterred Jeremy Renner from being part of outings that shows he is a serious actor, with perks of them being Oscar nominated such as "American Hustle" and "Arrival". But if you are looking for the spark that he showed for "The Hurt Locker" after becoming part of the Avengers, you can look to his work in "Kill the Messenger" and "The Immigrant" where he takes more center stage, and his appearance in Taylor Sheridan's directorial debut "Wind River" should be added before "Avengers: Infinity War".
Although Elizabeth Olsen is a late introduction to the Avenger team, the lesser known younger sibling of the Olsen twins was made from the cloth of the often overlooked indie scene where strong performances are key if not crucial to stand out from. While her most prolific outing of those would be her lead role in "Martha Marcy May Marlene", she hasn't been able to slot herself prominently in places where her performance is needed, with only her role as the strong will wife of country singer Hank Williams with Marvel alumni Tom Hiddleston in "I Saw the Light" as the only noteworthy performance. Hopefully, a positive reception of "Ingrid Goes West" and "Wind River" (co-starring with Jeremy Renner) would put her back in the performance game while she is still performing Avengers duty.
Cinema Online, 23 April 2017