We Could be Heroes.... by Steve Gray

20:00

Well, well, blockbuster movie season will soon be upon us. This summer we will see an unprecedented level of superhero activity, and I’ve been keeping a close eye on some of the offerings. I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to superhero flicks, (but not the bad ones - very few people of any age will remember Condorman, thankfully), and what has struck my patriot bone is the almost unseemly number of Brits playing the heroes.

Christian Bale, The Dark KnightOver the last two movies we’ve already become familiar with Haverfordwest’s very own Christian Bale as Batman & his duties will conclude this year when ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ gets released in June. Chris Nolan’s films have been hugely successful critically & commercially, (as was Inception which was thrown at us between Bat-flicks), so it’s no surprise that he has tried to maintain the same family of reliable talent on his films, (on-screen and off).

But in the US there has come the sound of many toys being thrown from prams as they have watched helplessly as Brits have snapped up major roles in what is considered the exclusive domain of the US thanks to their massive comics industry. The re-engineered Batman films attracted the lion’s share of ire in the US over its extensive use of non-American actors & British locations despite it being a US funded movie, set in the US with a US-born hero. Londoner Gary Oldman even ended up playing Jim Gordon, Batman’s closest ally in the police; Tom Wilkinson, (The Full Monty), grabbed the role of Italian mob boss Falconi & two Irish stars snagged the roles of Rhas al Ghul & The Scarecrow, (Liam Neeson and Cillian Murphy respectively). Another Chris Nolan favourite & Englishman Tom Hardy, (Inception, Bronson, Warrior), will be seen playing the almighty Batman Super-Villain Bane in the epic finale. But the UK interests don’t just begin & end with Batman.


Andrew Garfield, The Amazing Spiderman
Andrew Garfield - The Amazing Spiderman*

Brit Andrew Garfield, (The Social Network), will be playing Peter Parker in the ‘prequel’ The Amazing Spiderman, Rhys Ifans will be playing The Lizard & in a previous Spidey life Alfred Molina played villain Dr. Octopus. Aussie Chris Hemsworth played Thor, (which was of course directed by Shakespeare botherer Kenneth Brannagh), and will be reprising the role again in The Avengers alongside Brit Tom Hiddleston who played his brother Loki. There were of course the series of X-men movies which were more than happy to utilise the gifts of the very Non-US Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender & Nicholas Hoult, (TV’s Skins). I will only mention the existence of the appalling Fantastic Four to point out that Wales’ own Ioan Gruffudd played Dr. Reeves.

Henry Cavill, Man of Steel
Henry Cavill
None of this has happened out of some bizarrely inappropriate belief that all hero movies need a British thesp to play the role. They were chosen against a multitude of other actors & US studios are powerful enough to veto the choice of any actor if they see fit. Some British choices have even had to compete extremely hard to get their parts. Henry Cavill, (The Tudors, Immortals), is a case in point. He lost out on several major roles & now he will be playing the very American hero who has epitomised everything that the US stands for: Superman. Man of Steel is out in 2013. Henry Cavill, not only looks the part, but has bulked up substantially to fit the new suit. He also lost out to Brandon Routh when Superman Returns was on the slate.

No, I think it’s fair to say that there is some long-overdue recognition that it isn’t just the Americans that can kick ass & take names, us pasty-looking limeys can do it too. I don’t think we’ll be seeing Captain Britain anytime soon, though. Trust me, he is out there

*Spiderman Picture (c) of Marvel

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