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12/4 – Curious Cat Asks…

Who is the best actor/actress to ever play a comic book character in a film (not the best performance AS the character, just literally “who is the best actor/actress to ever play a comic book character in a film)? Is it Brando?

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74 Comments

Tom Hanks (Road to Perdition)

Dustin Hoffman (Mumbles in Dick Tracy)

Is ‘General Hager’ an actual comic book character, or was he invented for the second Fantastic Four film? Because if it’s the former, then Andre Braugher, hands down.

Al Pacino, also in Dick Tracy.

Isn’t Paul Newman in Perdition, too? I like Hanks, but Newman kills him as an actor.

Well, yeah, it is Brando. But Wesley Snipes too.

Halle Berry for Catwoman!

….Just joshin’ everyone. ;]

Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, how about Jack Nickolson (spell) as the Joker- That’s right…you can’t handle the truth.
later!

Morgan Freeman (multiple)

Can’t have a best actor list without Michael Caine and Robert Downy Jr.

I’ll also throw in Michael Keaton who I’ve always thought is grossly underappreciated as an actor.

I’m surprised no one’s said Ian McKellen. So I think I’ll say Ian McKellen.

Ian McKellen.

Brando (Superman), Nicholson (Batman), Pacino (Dick Tracy). Pretty much it. Other than Michael Caine, no one else has a shot in claiming they are in the level of those three.

Gene Hackman.
Although my natural sarcasm is urging me to say Vinnie Jones.

“Brando (Superman), Nicholson (Batman), Pacino (Dick Tracy). Pretty much it. Other than Michael Caine, no one else has a shot in claiming they are in the level of those three.”

What about Orson Welles? He did a voice in the Transformers movie, and there have been plenty of comics for that.

Vincent Paul Bartilucci

December 4, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Has no one seen Charley?

My choice is for good ol’ Uncle Ben Cliff Robertson.

I should clarify, the first Transformers movie, the animated one.

Wow! great list! nice call on Cliff Robertson & Ian McKellen And that’s Sir Michael Caine(Ha!). I just said the other day one of my favorite Character actors has to be Paul Giamatti remember him as Harvey Pekkar. Should we run down Star Wars actors since they have all crossed over to comics? Sir Alec!

Hey now….if were comparing ‘Sir’s…it’s Sir Ian McKellen as well. (And his King Lear is the best I’ve ever seen.)

Patrick Stewart is a pretty damn fine stage actor.

“Best” actor ever is always a bit of a wash, because there’s really no such definitive thing. Brando’s the most influential, but that’s not the same thing, and it’s worth remembering that he had more than a few dogs on his resume (his prissy turn on Mutiny of the Bounty, or the godawful Island of Dr. Moreau remake).

For sheer consistency as an actor it’s Newman, purely good in just about anything he ever did (and, although unrelated, the greatest philanthropist of all time, as measured by percentage of wealth given away). Hanks and Caine and Gene Hackman (Lex Luthor!) are in the same league. Kevin Spacey could join those ranks in a few years, but not yet.

For peak brilliance, it’s Brando, with Nicholson and Pacino maybe one or two steps behind. Nicholson and Pacino are staggeringly overrated more often than not, but Nicholson’s 70s run and Pacino’s scattered moments of utter brilliance are about as good as acting gets.

For best performance in a comic book movie? Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Robert Downey Jr., Steve Buscemi (Ghost World for crissakes!)…

That’s right Sir Ian I missed one, what always cracks me up is the end of the Di Vinci code when he’s being lead away and he’s yelling.. That man he knows the location (or the secret) of the holy grail. cracks me up every time. I saw the Dick Tracy nods but no mention of Warren Beatty? or was he just more notorious? later!

If Zorro counts, Anthony Hopkins.

I’m surprised nobody has said Gary Oldman.

I’ll be honest, I never really understood why Brando and Nicholson get so much acclaim.

Ian McKellen, Robert Downey Jr., and Michael Caine would be my choices.

I can’t believe anyone would even suggest Tom Hanks. That guy is so cardboard they make boxes out of him.

“For best performance in a comic book movie? Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Robert Downey Jr., Steve Buscemi (Ghost World for crissakes!)…”

Any good points you might’ve had in that post are completely obliterated when you claim that Bale is the best performance in a comic book movie. Unless ‘Newsies’ is based on a comic book, I have to assume you’re talking about Batman, and he’s terrible. He’s at least as bad as George Clooney, and Clooney doesn’t ruin the movie he’s in (granted, that’s because it’s already ruined).

“I’ll be honest, I never really understood why Brando and Nicholson get so much acclaim.”

Because people think that dynamic personalities make for good actors, when the opposite is actually true. If the actor in question always reminds you of their self and not their character, they are a bad actor.

“I’ll be honest, I never really understood why Brando and Nicholson get so much acclaim.”

It’s because they’re both amazing actors.

(haha)

You can kill two birds with one stone and watch ‘The Missouri Breaks'; it’s not a great movie, but it has at least two great performances.

Apod – you’ve clearly never seen more than one Marlon Brando movie if you think that (a) he ever gave the same performance twice, or (b) he ever acted like himself on screen.

It’s gotta be a toss-up between Shaq (Steel) and Tanya Roberts (Sheena).

Not sure if he’s the greatest, but Morgan Freeman would probably make the top five. Tommy Lee Jones is no slouch, and neither is Edward Norton.

Keanu, on the other hand, is a slouch.

Geoffrey Rush (Mystery Men), Johnny Depp (From Hell), Jack Nicholson (Batman), Tommy Lee Jones (other Batman), Sean Connery (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen).

Richard Pryor’s not a fantastic actor, but he’s certainly one of the most influential comedians of the last 40 years.

Interesting post!

Brando, Oldman, Caine, and Downey Jr.

Gary Oldman, hands down.

Chris O’Donnell.

Other than Brando, Hoffman, Pacino, Depp, & Nicholson: Robert DeNiro (he was in Stardust)

Also, Viggo Mortgensen (spelling?), who was in History of Violence. Eastern Promises was dynamite.

And I’ll second Steve Bucemi for my favorite performance in a comic book movie.

I like that you ask a question and then provide an unarguable answer. “Who do you think is the most widely read playwright? Is it Shakespeare?”

Still, for the sake of argument, I would say it has to be Gary Oldman. The most chameleonic leading actor of our time. Most people I saw the movie with were surprised to find that it was Gary Oldman.

Other good actors in comic book movies that no one has mentioned:
John Hurt in Hellboy
Alan Arkin in the Rocketeer
William Hurt was in A History of Violence but wasn’t technically playing someone from the comic…but oh, he was in the Hulk with Tim Roth
Burgess Meredith and Frank Gorshin were in the Batman movie
Walter Matthau was Mr. Wilson in Dennis the Menace
Geoffrey Rush was in Mystery Men
Alec Baldwin was in The (terrible movie) Shadow
Patrick McGoohan was in the Phantom

In the actress category:
Rachel Weisz and Tilda Swinton were both in Constantine

…Not as many strong female leads in comic movies. Imagine that.

Val Kilmer!

…come on, have you guys seen Real Genius? Brilliant!

Scarlet Johannsen was also in Ghost World, so she can join the comparatively thin ranks of particularly good actresses in comic book movies.

Tom Fitzpatrick

December 4, 2008 at 9:18 pm

What about Dean Cain?

ha ha ha, just kidding!

Has no one mentioned Terence Stamp or did I miss it as I scanned?

Edward Norton, easy. Edward Norton should play all comic book characters. And he could fuckin’ do it, too. Even in the movie.

Marlon….IF he’d been allowed to play Robin like they’d originally planned. As it is, Dolph Lundgren.

“Apod – you’ve clearly never seen more than one Marlon Brando movie if you think that (a) he ever gave the same performance twice, or (b) he ever acted like himself on screen.”

Se – The Godfather, Superman, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Apocalypse Now, On the Waterfront, & A Streetcar Named Desire. He’s always obviously Marlon Brando and nobody else in those movies. And that doesn’t mean he displayed his daily personality (which I’m guessing you don’t have any knowledge of, unless you knew the guy personally), it just means he was consistently, primarily representative of ‘Marlon Brando’.

“Scarlet Johannsen was also in Ghost World, so she can join the comparatively thin ranks of particularly good actresses in comic book movies.”

You must be kidding. She’s so lifeless, she married Ryan Reynolds.

“The Godfather, Superman, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Apocalypse Now, On the Waterfront, & A Streetcar Named Desire. He’s always obviously Marlon Brando and nobody else in those movies. And that doesn’t mean he displayed his daily personality (which I’m guessing you don’t have any knowledge of, unless you knew the guy personally), it just means he was consistently, primarily representative of ‘Marlon Brando’.”

… Did you seem the same movies I did?? :-|

Benicio del Toro has blown me away in every role I’ve seen him play. He was in Sin City as Jackie Boy.

I was going to say Ian McKellen or Michael Caine, but then I realized that I’d forgotten that Gary Oldman played Jim Gordon rather than, I dunno, Jim Gordon playing himself.

Nicol Williamson was one of the greatest actors of his generation.

He also was unfortunately in Spawn.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

December 5, 2008 at 1:10 am

Scarlet Johannsen was also in Ghost World, so she can join the comparatively thin ranks of particularly good actresses in comic book movies.

Eyes off the body and onto the performance!

Watch Match Point – she drowns when up against actual actors.

I’m gonna go with Sir Ian.

What about Paul Giomatti (sp?) from Ghost World

Other than Brando, Hoffman, Pacino, Depp, & Nicholson: Robert DeNiro (he was in Stardust)

Has Johnny Depp done a comic film? I can’t think of one.

for women, halle berry, jennifer connely, nicole kidman, kim bassinger, catherine zeta jones, anna paquin, tilda swinton, racheal wiesz angilina jolie all oscer winers Rosemary haris, natalie portman, nominees

michell pfieffer also a nomoniese for an oscar and sharon stone

Has Johnny Depp done a comic film? I can’t think of one.

Ignore that – I searched back and saw that it was From Hell.

Eyes off the body and onto the performance!

Watch Match Point – she drowns when up against actual actors.

She was far from shabby in ‘Lost In Translation’ and Bill Murray is definitely an actual actor.

If you want to see a more diverse Brando, check out Teahouse of the August Moon where he plays, no joke, an Okinawan trickster. It’s actually a pretty great little movie.

Alfred Molina in Spider-Man 2?

He is an amasing actor, and he even managed to bring deptyh to Doc Ock, something Marvel can’t even manage.

“Patrick Stewart is a pretty damn fine stage actor.”

Not to mention his small and silent, but tremendously effective roles as Karla opposite Alec Guinness in “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and “Smiley’s People.”

Gene Hackman’s always been one of my favorite actor’s, so I’ll have to go with him. I’ve always felt Nicholson simply dials up and down his own personality in most of his films. Hackman does comedy, drama, good guys, bad guys.

Have to say Paul Newman…
Nicholson and Brando just play Nicholson and Brando…
Ditto for Sean Connery

Michael Crawford for Condorman count?

Christopher Lee for the Return of Captain Invincible (with Alan Arkin)

Kevin Spacey?

Let’s face it, this is a completely subjective choice, so , sod it, I’m going for a triple-header: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger and Gary Oldman playing beautifully off each other in the Dark Knight Returns, which I also think says a lot about having a good director…

Robert DiNiro was Fearless leader in the Bullwinkle movie. (Not sure that counts in the subject).

Peter O’Toole and Faye Dunaway were in “Supergirl”. You don’t get much better than O’Toole.

Gene Hackman and Glenn Ford in “Superman”.

Let’s not forget Jeff Bridges in “Iron man”.

How many Acadamy Award nominees have been in comic related movies?

Like half the casts of Iron Man and X-Men.

Does “Addams Family” count? Anjelica Huston.

Many, many fine choices up here.
But one has been definitely overlooked…

Christopher Lambert (Highlander) as Tarzan

And, if we’re going for snark…

James Van Der Beek as Tarzan

I gotta say Michael Caine

“Christopher Lee for the Return of Captain Invincible (with Alan Arkin)”

Heh..I just saw that not too long ago (thanks netflix!)

Best actor to play a comic character: Michael Caine

Best actor to play a villain: Gene Hackman

Best actor to play a hero: Ed Norton

I think people should take another look at the cast of Dick Tracy… Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, James Caan, Warren Beatty, Paul Sorvino, William Forsythe, Dick Van Dyke, Mandy Patinkin, Kathy Bates & Catherine O’Hara to name more than a few. Now most of these are cameos, but we’re looking for great actors who have played a comic character, not who had a great performance as a character.

Also Orson Welles did more than just Unicron, he also was The Shadow on the radio. But The Shadow started in the radio, went to pulps and then comics…does he count? Also Unicron was in the movie first, so not really a comic book character.

In my subjective opinion I’d have to say that Dustin Hoffman is the answer we’re looking for.

And on the topic of actresses, there really haven’t been that many that would qualify as great. Most are hired for looks rather than talent. But here’s a few I could come up with…
Eva Marie Saint was in Superman Returns
Angelina Jolie was in Wanted (I’m not a fan, but she’s more of an actress than most)
Uma Thurman was in B&R
Rosario Dawson was in Josie & The Pussycats
Parker Posey was in Josie & The Pussycats, Blade: Trinity and Superman Returns (though I don’t think that any of her characters were ever in the comics first/ever…anyone want to correct me?)

Morning! I left a couple of posts yesterday, followed the posts through the evening and woke up to about 25 posts on my phone today, when I read Henry Fonda I was like how could I forget him, how about his daughter Jane for Barbarella (French comic), I’m really just adding to the list of fine actors at this point. lets not forget Terrance Stamp as General Zod and the first one to hit me today Max Von Sydov as Ming the Merciless in the 1980 Flash( even worse then Baldwins Shadow)Gordon (he also played Jesus) later!

Marking them on overall acting chops and quality of the particular role, I’d say Heath Ledger takes it, with Patrick Stewart and Robert Downey Jr. tied for second.

If the subject were “Best fit for a comic character,” I’d find it very hard to look past JK Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson.

damn, not one mention of Heath Ledger…i find that weird considering how far he came out of his face to play that role. i don’t think any of the above mentioned actors strayed as far away from, um…sanity/humanity, as Heath in the DarkKnight. Heath>Marlon, hands down.

we sure are a fickle culture when a few months ago people were talkin’ Oscar and all of a sudden dude can’t get a mention on a best comic book actor discussion. disappointment in humanity…+ 2 points.

personally, i’m goin with Willard E. Pugh as the Mayor of Detroit in Robocop 2. i can’t sit still when that fool comes on the screen…i laugh the fat off my ass.

oh yea! and Lori Petty in Tank Girl…no reason, just cause everyone else seems to be jerkin’ names out der crack

we sure are a fickle culture when a few months ago people were talkin’ Oscar and all of a sudden dude can’t get a mention on a best comic book actor discussion. disappointment in humanity…+ 2 points.

Ledger gave an excellent performance, but I personally all I’ve seen him in was TDK and 10 Things I Hate About You. I don’t honestly think I’ve seen enough from him to know if he’s got the range of some of the other actors listed, and I couldn’t honestly say if he’s done enough work to show it to anyone else.

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