Scene Stealers: Comic Book Movie Edition
Welcome to Reel Fitness’ new ongoing segment called: Scene Stealers. Each time we’ll list the top scene-stealers from a particular genre or series. The criteria are as follow
- The “scene-stealer” should not be considered the lead character. In fact, it’s best if their name isn’t in the top billing at all.
- Said “scene-stealer” will also have limited screen time comparatively.
It’s pretty simple. This week we dive into comic book movies. As the go-to property nowadays, comic book movies are filled with legendary characters that often have decades of history behind them. However, there are some characters we wouldn’t even know without awesome portrayals in movies. This is their story.
#1 Azazel (X-Men First Class)
While X-2 introduced the world to teleporting bad-assery with Alan Cumming’s Nightcrawler, X-Men First Class decided to make its teleporter a ruthless killing machine. Azazel may already grab your attention with his demonic appearance and fantastically fun power but it’s how he uses it that makes him legendary.
Nightcrawler would bounce from room to room kicking guys in the face and non-lethally incapacitating them. How does Azazel make an entrance? He starts dropping bodies from the sky. The future X-men’s first encounter with Azazael is watching his handiwork land on the lawn outside. From there, Azazael decides to tear through his opponents with swords and manipulates bodies with his tail like a human shield.
It was a great decision by the writing team to keep Azazael’s actual dialogue sparse (in fact he may not speak at all) because all we have to go on are his actions. And they’re evil….and incredibly awesome.
Signature moment: The first guard disappaears and reappears in the air.
#2 The Hulk (The Avengers)
Just as a point of clarification, I’m not referring to Bruce Banner in the slightest. Mark Ruffalo does a fantastic job and his chemistry with Robert Downey Jr. is spectacular, but it would all be for naught it the mean green machine wasn’t any fun. Thankfully he’s more delightful that a barrel full of monkeys on crank. Considering the fact Banner is around for over half the movie, it’s amazing that the Hulk’s segments pretty much boil down to about 20 minutes tops.
And they’re all gold.
First as the creator of tension as he chases Black Widow, clashes with Thor, and then rips apart a jet like a rabid dog. Then, his re-entry into the fray literally made people get up and cheer when I saw this in theaters. More than any other adaptations before it, The Avengers understands that watching the Hulk destroy things is kind of the point. And from there, we get massive bad alien destruction and easily the funniest moment of the entire movie when Hulk comes face to face with Loki. I was incapacitated with laughter for nearly two minutes.
Now audiences can’t wait to see Hulk smash again in Avengers 2.
Signature Moment: Loki confronts the Hulk by declaring he’s a god. Hulk cuts him off and smashes him like a stuffed toy. “Puny god” indeed.
#3 J. Jonah Jameson (The Spiderman series)
While the Spiderman movies have varied in quality, there’s always been one constant: the superb performance of J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. The unquestionably compromised shark cares about one thing and one thing only: headlines and selling papers. Always speaking in an angry tone and a mile a minute, Simmons nails the newspaper boss comic fans love to hate from his nonsense villainization of the hero to his massively inflated ego.
Even when face to face with dueling superhumans or watching his son’s bride run from the alter, Simmons makes it very clear that Jameson only cares about one thing: himself.
Also Simmons is so synonymous with the role at this point that there have been talks of bringing him back for the reboots.
Signature Moment: One of Jameson’s assistants suggest the name “Doctor Octopus” after Otto Octavius’ first murderous rampage. Jameson immediately rebuffs it, waits a beat says it again and this time claims it as his own genius.
#4 Wallace Wells (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World)
There might be plenty of great cameo roles in this movie (including Brandon Routh, Chris Evans and Jason Schwartzman), but the best secondary character isn’t even involved in the fights. That person is Wallace Wells, Scott’s gay roommate that pays for everything.
More so than you might expect, Wallace has a crucial role in the movie as both the voice of reason always with a side of sarcasm. It helps that Kieran Culkin simply goes for it in make out scenes and manages to be bitchy without being a screaming queen. He’s also a great counterpoint to Scott. While Scott is straight, awkward, confused, and in denial about his romantic infidelities, Wallace is confidence, persistently amused, and doesn’t even try to hide his man-whore status. That dingy apartment would be a lonely place with out him.
Signature Moment: (tie) 1. Wallace eyes Scott’s sister’s boyfriend and ends up making out with him in two minutes 2. “Ok you may have seen some guys junk just now…”
#5 Rorschach (Watchmen)
It takes a lot to make an audience to root for a murderous sociopath. But, Jackie Earle Haley pulls it off magnificently in Zack Snyder’s take on the seminal graphic novel Watchmen. Rorschach is not a character we should like. His only moral agenda is to punish criminals by killing them. He’s blatantly intolerant of gays and other races. His entire personality is prickly at best and offensive at worst. And yet we root for him and cheer for him. Haley turns in great work without the use of his face half the time and perfectly matches the vocal rhythms of character we’ve all interpreted for ourselves. Once the mask is off, Haley shows us the terrifying coldness behind the mask and truly makes us wonder if he’s worth celebrating.
Rorschach makes it hard to love him and yet we do. Maybe it’s because we all have a urge for violence justice. But more than likely, it’s because Rorschach refuses to compromise even when starring unspeakable evil in the face.
Signature Moment: After an inmate attempts starts a fight Rorschach reminds the inmates “I’m not locked in here with you…YOU’RE LOCKED IN HERE WITH ME!!!”
#6 Hit-Girl (Kick-Ass)
Kick-Ass as a character and hero is a bit lame. Hit Girl and Big Daddy on the other hand are awesome. While Nicholas Cage’s Big Daddy is a likable weird the true star of the show is the spunky, foul-mouthed Hit Girl. Played to perfection by Chloe Moretz, Hit Girl flies through deadly fight scenes, curses like a sailor, and yet retains her sense of child-like wonder about it all.
Though it’s clear Mindy (Hit Girl’s real name) has never had a normal childhood, the scenes with her father are comedy gold because of how absurd the situations are (aka getting butterfly knives as a birthday present and testing bulletproof jackets).
Still for all her talk, Hit Girl can back it up in combat. Guns. Knives. Even ropes with blades on the end of them. Hit-Girl uses every weapon in the arsenal so well that trained hitmen go running for a bazooka. I’m honestly amazed I didn’t forget the title of the movie and start calling it Hit Girl instead.
Signature Moment: While her initial entrance in costume is fantastic, Mindy’s true moment to shine comes in the form of acrobatic shootout in closed quarters against a hoard of mob henchman complete with “Bad Reputation” as the soundtrack.
#7 Dr. Abraham Erskine (Captain America)
Considering the stakes, it’s amazing that Dr. Erskine got everything so right on his first try. See Erskine’s been tasked to create the initial super-solider for the Allied military during WWII. Despite a deadline looming, Erskine proves to be a perfect judge of character by singling out the scrawny Steve Rodgers.
The ever reliable Stanely Tucci, plays Erskine restrained and confident allowing us to believe that this is a man of reason with knowledge beyond the laboratory. The scenes between himself and Steve tell us everything as they showcase Steve’s inherent heroism and Erskine’s understanding of power. Without Erskine’s influence, Captain America would be a selfish meat-head instead of the All-American hero.
Signature Moment: (tie) 1. Erskine asks Steve why he wants to kill Nazis. Steve says he doesn’t want to kill anyone. 2. The bemused look on Erskine’s face when Steve passes a test of heroism.
Is your favorite not on this list? Share your favorite comic book scene-stealers in the comments section below.