Captain Marvel's Annette Bening, Aquaman's Nicole Kidman cement tradition of hiring A-lister guardians for superheroes
The tradition goes as far back as 'Star Wars'. With roles such as Julius Caesar, Adolf Hitler, Charles I and Marcus Aurelius, Sir Alec Guinness was popular for being Obi-Wan Kenobi
Every superhero movie, no matter how many packs consist the lead’s abs, and how much money the production house has invested in VFX, has one lucky charm, a Hollywood A-lister, and this tradition has been going on for many, many years. In ‘Aquaman’, Jason Momoa’s Arthur has a magnetism – read abs, biceps and face – that will drive audiences to the theater and yet, Warner Bros. did not do away with the aid of a beloved A-lister – Nicole Kidman.
Kidman, who plays Atlanna, The Queen of Atlantis, gave Arthur the God part of his DNA. Her role, like that of many of her counterparts is to be the strong parental figure who guides the superhero. Technically speaking, it is not a role that requires someone of her caliber, but is it infinitely better because of her presence? Absolutely.
Marvel’s upcoming ‘Captain Marvel,’ starring Brie Larson also has a legendary star in the mix – Anette Benning as a Kree scientist, who makes Larson's Carol Danvers part Kree. Needless to say, she would be the all-knowledgeable maternal figure in our superhero's life.
'Captain Marvel' is one of the most anticipated films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe - the first film with a female superhero heading the ship, Marvel's answer to DC's unbelievably successful 'Wonder Woman.' We do not question the film's success but yet again, the A-lister is right there like a good-luck charm.
This tradition goes as far back as 'Star Wars' - the granddaddy of sci-fi flicks. Despite a very impressive CV decorated with roles such as Julius Caesar, Adolf Hitler, Charles I and Marcus Aurelius, which should have ideally defined his career, Sir Alec Guinness was popular for being Obi-Wan Kenobi. Unfortunately, Guinness, who prided himself on his more serious roles, was initially shocked and later developed a hatred for the 'Star Wars' franchise, and famously regretted ever being a part of it.
Reportedly, Guinness only took on the role for the fat paycheck, but despised the fact that he got hundreds of fan mails from fans of Obi-Wan Kenobi. He even recollected this encounter with a young fan in his memoir 'A Positively Final Appearance':
A refurbished Star Wars is on somewhere or everywhere. I have no intention of revisiting any galaxy. I shrivel inside each time it is mentioned. Twenty years ago, when the film was first shown, it had a freshness, also a sense of moral good and fun. Then I began to be uneasy at the influence it might be having. The bad penny first dropped in San Francisco when a sweet-faced boy of twelve told me proudly he had seen Star Wars over a hundred times. His elegant mother nodded with approval. Looking into the boy's eyes I thought I detected little star-shells of madness beginning to form and I guess that one day they would explode. [Emphasis mine]
'I would love for you to do something for me,' I said.
'Anything! Anything!' the boy said rapturously.
'You won't like what I'm going to ask you to do.' I said.
'Anything, sir, anything!'
'Well,' I said, 'do you think you could promise never to see Star Wars again?'
He bursts into tears. His mother drew herself up to an immense height. 'What a dreadful thing to say to a child!' she barked, and dragged the poor kid away. Maybe she was right but I just hope the lad, now in his thirties, is not living in a fantasy world of secondhand, childish banalities.
Regardless, the trend picked up, and many Hollywood A-listers otherwise staying away from the frivolous Hollywood films have found their way into superhero flicks. Unlike Guinness though, they seem to know what they are signing up for. Take Kurt Russell as Starlord's (Chris Pratt) father in 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2,' Michael Douglas Hank Pym, Ant-Man's (Paul Rudd) mentor and Wasp's (Evangeline Lily) father in 'Ant-Man.' If you want to look farther back, think back to Marlon Brando's stint as Jor-El, Kal-El's (Christopher Reeves) biological father in 1978's 'Superman.'
Andy Samberg as Judd Nelson in 'The Breakfast Club' put it perfectly when he said independent movies' favorite stars eventually head to superhero franchises. Although Andy was performing an 'In Memorium' number at the 2018 Independent Spirit Awards for youngsters like Timothée Chalamet and Saoirse Ronan, this applies to some of the biggest names in Hollywood.
Decades of great acting in impactful and important films may have brought them accolades, but the popularity of being in a superhero film brings is incomparable, also the guaranteed fat pay cheque should definitely be an added bonus.
Regardless of the reasons, we are excited everytime an A-lister takes on a role that show off a different irreverent side of theirs. Needless to say we are impatiently waiting for December 14 to watch 'Aquaman' and for March 8 to watch 'Captain Marvel.'