Far too often, we have seen a casting call in CBMs offered to incredibly talented actors in live-action films; yet the outcome has been lackluster. I am inspired to compile a Top 3 list following the announcement of Jamie Foxx’s return to the role of Electro in the upcoming Spider-Man 3 film.
In this, we’ll investigate three underwhelming casting call conflicts for comic book movie characters and the actors who portrayed them — all deserving of redemption, similar to Foxx.
Jamie Foxx is an amazing character actor who has proved his worth time-and-time again in films like Law Abiding Citizen and Django: Unchained. He also proved his limitlessness in the world of entertainment, joining the cast of comedy films like Due Date and Horrible Bosses.
And then, as our friends in The Sound Matrix would point out, Foxx has put out hit singles such as “Blame It” and “Golddigger” (regardless of your personal feelings about his music).
So, with such a talented actor like Foxx answering a casting call from Marvel (or Fox, in this case), what was the problem with The Amazing Spider-Man 2? Let’s just say that there are plenty of problems with the film, none of which include Jamie Foxx. He has worked with a variety of actors. Foxx works with anyone, but like any occupation, the outcome of chemistry can be amazingly disappointing.
Here are three actors I believe deserve casting call redemption.
Miles Teller as the intellectual genius Reed Richards was a most disappointing casting call in recent memory. He was Mr. Fantastic in 2015’s Fantastic Four. Like many others, I have always been a huge fan of the Fantastic Four.
To be honest, I enjoyed Marvel’s first stab at this franchise in live action featuring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis, and Chris Evans. (God, whatever happened to that guy?) Despite my love for this first go-round and collective casting call, the following attempt to reboot the franchise never stood a chance.
I began following Teller’s career as early as 2012 in Project X. That was only three years before he would become a member of Marvel’s first family. Teller has impeccable range, true grit, and resolve, which was all on display in 2016’s Bleed for This. This incredible story about a boxer’s return to the ring following a seemingly career-ending injury showed Miles Teller’s ability to lead a film.
Of course, no one will ever forget his performance alongside J.K. Simmons in Whiplash, a film that received a lot of attention during awards season.
With a group full of young talent, how did this Fantastic Four film fail?
This film was the victim of FOX’s constant interference, something clearly befitting the studio. Their interference resulted in reshoots three months prior to opening and dull CGI effects. Not to mention, director Josh Trank’s bizarre on-set behavior. Remember the name change one of the most popular villains of all-time? Dedicated fans were in a frenzy! What about members of the Fantastic Four as military weapons, untrue to their well-known origin?
In my opinion, Teller makes for a perfect Reed Richards so his original casting call was on-point. He can be the smartest person in the room, take the brunt of the jokes, and still step up to be a leader. As a matter of fact, Teller’s performance is one of the only redeemable qualities of this film. The side effects caused by the company interference were an absolute shame. That plagued this film from the very start.
Next up, Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, directed by Zack Snyder. Another outstanding actor across all genres of film, simply wasted in a trivial role in the expanding DCEU.
Eisenberg garnered attention during 2011’s awards season as Best Actor in a Leading Role for The Social Network. Comedy fans may know him from Zombieland, where he tags along with fellow academy award nominated actor and actresses Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin during a zombie apocalypse which is plenty of fun and good for a spook or two.
Batman v. Superman has an abundance of shortcomings. That is not the fault of the actors. The problem with Eisenberg’s Lex was not his performance, but the vision of the titular villain he was embodying. Lex Luthor is an evil genius and billionaire.
We observed a very different Lex Luthor. Zack Snyder includes religious themes in his films, which was very evident here. This Lex is manic; deranged despite his genius, and often finds himself rambling. That is evident when he refers to God and what Superman’s presence implicates for this world. Its almost as if he is conducting a sermon at times:
“I figured out way back, if God is all powerful, he cannot be all good. And if he is all good, he cannot be all powerful… and neither can you be. They need to see the fraud you are, with their eyes… the blood on your hands.”Lex Luthor, Batman v. Superman
Eisenberg reaches highs and lows within seconds during each monologue. He almost uncovers an overwhelming truth about morals and virtues, only to come back down and reaffirm his beliefs. Lex believes he is right and never misses an opportunity to lecture and demean others. Eisenberg smashes this version of the character, but it is not at all familiar with when it comes to the Kryptonian’s arch nemesis.
Finally, we get to the casting call of James Marsden’s Cyclops aka Scott Summers. This one makes my blood boil. Unlike the other two previously mentioned actors, I cannot make an argument about a filmography preceding him. There is little proof Marsden is capable of accomplishing absolutely anything, except he truly does bear that potential.
Before Chris Hemsworth or Chris Evans were cast as Thor and Captain America, would you have been able to pick them out of a lineup? These two were not stars prior to their debut as Avengers. Marsden may have achieved mega superstar status, if his character was given more attention.
Like these two men named Chris, Marsden is charming, handsome and versatile. Marsden can play your typical jerk. He can also seamlessly step into the role of an action star.
And, not for nothing, he can dance and sing with the best of them, so give Hairspray a watch.
The FOX X-Men franchise had its ups and downs, but for the most part, they were successful. They also gave rise to one of the best live-action comic book portrayals of all-time in Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine.
I never understood how some X-Men characters could be given so much love and care; yet, other key players fell by the wayside. At least Halle Berry’s Storm and Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey could be badass at times, but Scott Summers was completely sidelined!
Cyclops is THE leader of the X-Men. Despite his constant banter and dicey “friendship” with Logan, he maintains that role. Scott Summers is a strong-willed, adamant character. He assumes the leadership role inside the X-Men without question, dead-set in his convictions.
The only time Scott has ever really been known to lighten up is when he is interacting with Jean, she really is the only character that can truly reign him in. Yet, this seems to be the only aspect of his character that the original X-Men trilogy has gotten right. Marsden displays emotional hopelessness when it comes to Jean perfectly. However, he doesn’t have a fighting chance when it comes to taking reigns of the team.
Wolverine is the face of the X-Men, but the importance of these team members cannot be overlooked. Jackman’s Wolverine usually outshines the rest, so there is very little room for Marsden’s Cyclops to operate.
Wolverine completely overshadows Cyclops, who constantly makes a mockery of him. While even this aspect of their dynamic is not uncommon and can be very entertaining, something has got to give. Cyclops is completely misunderstood and underutilized in this film franchise. Marsden didn’t have a real opportunity to lead the X-Men. His story and character was left for dead compared to other characters at the forefront of the films.
There are plenty of actors and actresses who have been robbed of a meaningful performance by the studios and storytellers. To name a few: Berry’s Catwoman, Routh’s Superman, and Ray Stevenson’s Punisher are all great examples of perfect casting call moments for their respective roles with very little to show for it.
On the other hand, we have seen many redemptions in other ways, such as Ryan Reynold’s upgrade from Weapon XI and Green Lantern to the Deadpool we know and love, as well as Mahershala Ali, originally Cottonmouth on Marvel and Netflix’s Luke Cage now set to play the vampire slayer Blade in the near future!
Ultimately, I cannot wait to see Jamie Foxx return as Electro to face-off against Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. While the actors I named may not see such an opportunity, I do believe they and their characters were mishandled like so many others. With the MCU and DCEU each ready to expand their respective multiverses, there is no telling who might make a surprise return! These possibilities beg the question: who else is deserving of such redemption?