Seeing Stars

This article came up in my news feed quite a while back and I just sort of squirreled it away for a rainy day.  Today is that day. Apparently, mega-movie director Quentin Tarantino said that Marvel actors aren’t really movie stars. I know Tarantino is an icon and I’m just a mere member of the audience, but I can’t say I agree.

My take on it is this: Tarantino recruits stars to sell his movies. His cast is almost always made up of established box office draws… star power, if you will.  Marvel, on the other hand, takes actors and turns them into megastars. There are a few exceptions like Patrick Stewart, Samuel L. Jackson (who, funnily enough, also appears in a few Tarantino flicks, um… awkward), and one of the greatest stage and screen actors of all time, Sir Ian McKellen. But for the most part, Marvel movies jumpstarted or reinvigorated careers to stratosphere-level star power.

Tarantino even addresses this, saying that “Part of the Marvelization of Hollywood is you have all these actors who have become famous playing these characters, but they’re not movie stars. Captain America is the star. Thor is the star.” This isn’t necessarily true. If you ask me, just because they’re in action movies doesn’t make them any less gifted.

You simply can’t deny the talent of Chadwick Boseman, Robert Downey, Jr., Tom Holland, Chris Evans (besides playing a poignant Steve Rogers, he was awesome in Gifted and Knives Out), Elizabeth Olsen (audiences worldwide felt her anguish over losing her children), Tom Hiddleston (who embodies Loki with ease but can then move on to winning awards as The Night Manager), Chris Pratt (he’s everywhere these days), Hugh Jackman, and others. These were all amazing actors before Marvel, even if they weren’t exactly on the audience’s radar, and their stint as superheroes shot them into true stardom. And whoever claims superhero movies can’t be expressive and emotional – thereby requiring a wide range from the actors, has never heard Tom Holland say, “Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good.

Still, I get what Tarantino means. Movie-goers aren’t asking, “hey did you see that new Chris Hemsworth movie?” They’re asking, “hey did you see that new Thor movie?”  However, I think this is just the norm for most movies these days. People still love celebrities and Hollywood in general, but it’s not like in the days of the Rat Pack when celebrities were revered. And when you think about it, they’re kind of doing the same thing with Tarantino movies by asking “hey, did you see the new Tarantino flick?” Rather than “hey did you see the new [insert famous actor here] movie?” Perhaps Tarantino has more in common with Marvel than he thought. Double awkward.

So, yeah, while Thor may be the star, Chris Hemsworth brought Thor to life. Just like with the other Marvel actors, one can’t imagine any other person playing these roles. When people say, “hey, did you see the new Ironman movie?” They’re clearly thinking of Robert Downey, Jr., because Robert Downey, Jr. is Ironman. While a great movie in its own right, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever makes it clear just how precious Chadwick Boseman was to the MCU, and the rest of the world.

What it comes down to is this: star power is in the eye of the beholder, and perhaps Tarantino’s eye is just a slight shade of green.

2 thoughts on “Seeing Stars

  1. I am not a moviegoer, but followed and agree with your take on the stars of them. Do you think the language of reference has shifted in some part due to the rise of “influencers” ?
    Now that is a term, role, concept I abhor. No wonder our social, political, general life worlds are so ugly and fragmented. People don’t think for themselves, they just follow blindly behind a self-styled nknow it all personality.

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