EDITORIAL: Casting Athletes In Super Hero Movies - Good Or Bad Idea?
With the recent casting of former WWE wrestler Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy and MMA fighter Georges St-Pierre as Batroc the Leaper in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the argument of whether or not athletes have a place in superhero films seems to be picking up even more steam.
Is it a good idea to cast athletes such as wrestlers in comic book movies as superheroes and villains? Should athletes be given a chance to tackle these acting roles or written off because of their backgrounds?
Here on ComicBookMovie.com, the concept of fan casts is a big hit. Sometimes they can be very original (whether that's good or bad) and sometimes they can be extremely repetitive due to either the perfect pairing or a lack of originality. One of the issues brought up very often is whether or not you could sacrifice acting ability for pure resemblance of a character by throwing an athlete into the role and hoping for the best as opposed to placing an actor in that spot and hoping they bring the character's appearance to life. It's a valid argument that can take some interesting twists and turns depending upon the nature of the project and the role in question.
For example, the argument in favor of Batista as Drax the Destroyer seems to be that he's "good enough" and looks the part so it's not causing a lot of commotion. A big factor with that is also how Guardians of the Galaxy is nowhere near as monumental of an adaptation as it would be if we were discussing Batista's involvement in the upcoming Man of Steel film. As a wrestling fan (with my own site Smark Out Moment) I've been asked many times about my feelings on this casting and I have to echo the same statements I've seen many others say: Batista is by no means an actor I would hire to carry any weight of a role, however if this is a simplistic supporting role in a film that I'm not exactly invested in to begin with, I'm willing to go with the ride and make a full judgment after viewing the film itself.
I'm in a similar but much more pronounced situation when it comes to Georges St-Pierre being cast as Batroc the Leaper. As expressed here in another site of mine, Fanboys Anonymous , I'm under the assumption that the role is nothing more than a cameo of an action sequence. Therefore, I'm 100% behind this casting choice. The role of Batroc the Leaper is certainly not going to be something with gravitas similar to Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight so it doesn't require nearly as much acting ability. In fact, the best comparison I could bring to this is Sébastien Foucan's involvement in Casino Royale. The parkour star was utilized in one action sequence that specialized on his talents and involved quite literally zero acting necessary. If indeed Georges St-Pierre is a glorified stuntman in the new Captain America film, I'd love to hear the arguments against his casting.
While those two situations represent a more positive edge to athletes in superhero films, what about the more negative ones out there? What is there to say about the alarming number of suggestions from people both inside and outside of the entertainment industry that would have gladly gone with John Cena as Captain America or Paul Levesque for Thor? How many fan casts have we seen that quite literally say to "insert any bodybuilder" for Rhino or Doomsday? Gina Carano gets both a dedicated support and vehement opposition when suggested for Wonder Woman. Lest we forget Shaquille O'Neal as Steel…or maybe that's a good thing if we do. They might have the muscular frames to bring the physicality to screen from what we see in comics, but we also have to remember that with any film you shouldn't sacrifice acting ability in any way.
I would be hard pressed to ever say that athletes should be at the forefront of casting calls OR completely ruled out in the process. There are exceptions to rules and over time, people learn to accept that. The instant a new Terminator film is discussed everyone wants the inclusion of former bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger (though thankfully not O.J. Simpson). There seems to be more of an outcry against the direction and script of the new G.I. Joe: Retaliation film than Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Roadblock (in fact he's even one of the most brought up names when discussing Black Adam's casting). Then there have been instances where no matter what you do, you just can't throw someone who isn't an actor into a role and expect great results.
What is your opinion on the idea of casting athletes in comic book movies? Leave a comment below!
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