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Top 6 Overlooked Superhero Performances

Sometimes people don’t get the recognition they deserve. They work hard, display great talent, and yet are never really appreciated. They continually show great insight and astuteness, but are always told that their talents are meaningless and that Disney isn’t an evil corporation that brainwashes peoples minds so they can steal their money. Okay, that last bit was just about me. Like every great artist, I am unappreciated in my own time. THE WORLD WILL ONE DAY RECOGNISE MY GENIUS!!!

But we’re not here to talk about me. We’re gonna look at some great actors giving great performances that never got the attention they should have. This is the top six overlooked superhero performances!

DISCLAIMER! The following is my own opinion. And seeing as how my opinion is the only one that matters, I suggest you keep yours to yourselves and accept mine as gospel.

6. Karl Urban – Dredd


Karl is going low on this list because 2012’s Dredd was well received by both critics and audiences alike. “How then can you justify putting him on this list”, I hear you bleat. Two reasons. One, it’s my list and I can do what ever the hell I like, sonny jim! Two, THERE’S ONLY BEEN ONE DREDD MOVIE!!!

Rarely does a great film come around with such franchise potential. Rarely does an actor understand his character as much as Urban. And yet, thanks apparently to some mismanaged marketing (*eye twitch*), a sequel was not immediately green lit. The cast and crew voiced their desire for a sequel, the fans started a petition, I made a blood pact with Satan… but nothing happened. Apparently, there are talks going on, possibly, but nothing concrete. SOMEBODY! ANYBODY! SHINE THAT GREEN LIGHT LIKE A GODDAMN HALOGEN TORCH!!!

5. Rainn Wilson – Super


Can James Gunn be in charge of all superhero movies from now on? I realise this is a little unrealistic. How about this, we split them down the middle. Gunn takes half, and we give the other half to the Russo brothers. Fair? Anyhoo, Super is great. But it’s Rainn Wilson‘s surprisingly dramatic performance that makes it, well, super.

I think it’s the climax of the movie that truly nails it for me. Rainn, as Frank/The Crimson Bolt, finally confronts his nemesis Jacques with the intention of rescuing his wife Sarah. After subduing Jacques, he tries to point out that Frank is no different than him, to which Frank responds by screaming: “You don’t butt in line! You don’t sell drugs!  You don’t molest little children! You don’t profit on the misery of others! The rules were set a long time ago! They don’t change!”

What else can you say but… Shut up crime!

4. Jamie Bell – Jumper


Once upon a time, there was a little boy that loved the movies. He saw a trailer for a film called Jumper, and it looked really cool. He waited patiently for the movie to come out and when it did, he eagerly went to go see it. But the film played a cruel trick on the boy, by being really really bad. The little boy learned not to trust a film’s appearance, and from that day on he never saw a movie with the automatic expectation that it would be good. I was that little boy. Although I was fifteen at the time. The story is kind of breaking down now, isn’t it?

But putting aside that nugget of childhood trauma, one thing about Jumper that was actually good was Jamie Bell. Although he would later star in one of the worst superhero movies of all time (I still have nightmares), his character is almost worth watching the movie for. In fact, it still bewilders me that the movie isn’t about him! He’s got a much more interesting backstory than the main character (played by a certain Star Wars actor that shall not be named), is much cooler in terms of how he uses his powers (he throws a double decker bus at Samuel L. Jackson!), and is just a better character! If I had a time machine, this would be one of the many, many things I’d fix. Don’t worry, I’d make sure Firefly didn’t get cancelled first.

3. Michael Angarano – Sky High


I realise that this might seem hypocritical given that I’ve already stated my hatred for Disney but… *sigh* this is kind of a good film. SHUT UP! STOP LAUGHING AT ME! I’m a critic and thus have to be fair and balanced in my analysis. So when I say it’s a decent film, trust me it’s decent. Albeit not exactly original. The story revolves around a school for superheroes (gee, where have we seen THAT before?), and protagonist Will Stronghold’s (played by Angarano) journey through it.

Here’s the thing though. Despite being the son of two of Earth’s greatest superheroes, Will has no powers. Which is understandably frustrating. And Angarano does a great job showing the ups and downs of his character. I mean, this guy can keep up with Kurt Russell and, I kid you not, Bruce Campbell! Props.

2. Kevin Conroy – Mask of the Phantasm


Much like Mark Hamill as the Joker, Conroy has become synonymous with voice acting Batman. Personally though, I’ve never been that impressed. He’s not bad, by any means, just… meh. Which is partly because Batman is such a bland character most of the time. Key phrase: most of the time.

In Mask of the Phantasm, Conroy gets to actually stretch his acting chops and perform a real character, instead of the cardboard cut out Batman usually is. We see a full spectrum of emotion. All the way from steely determination, to all consuming anger, to genuine grief and heartbreak. And it’s partly because of that performance that I consider Mask of the Phantasm not only the only definitively good Batman films, but one of the best superhero films ever made.

1. Neil Patrick Harris – Spider-Man: The New Animated Series


God I love this show. Everyone remembers the 90’s cartoon. Or laments the premature end of Spectacular Spider-Man. Or refuses to talk about Ultimate Spider-Man out of embarrassment. As well they should. But hardly anyone talks about the sheer epicness of THIS series. Or, for that matter, Neil Patrick Harris.

Before he was surrounded by Smurfs. Before he was legend- wait for it… dary. Before he sang about how horrible he was. Before he was a child doctor- oh, wait this was after that. Whoops. Point is, Neil simply GOT Peter Parker. Everything that character was is encapsulated in Harris’s performance. His nerdiness, his awkwardness, his wisecracking, his frustrations, his anger, his guilt, his… EVERYTHING! He WAS Spider-Man. And he only got ONE BLOODY SEASON!!!

Hollywood… why do you hate me?

But what do YOU think of this list? Was it a perfect postulance of pristine performances? Or an annoying agenda of awful acting? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter! Meanwhile, I’m going to send more hate mail to that actor from Star Wars that shall not be named. “Dear talentless pillock, I hope this letter finds you unwell. It is my fondest hope that these letters will sap you of all hope and strength so that you simply don’t have the energy to make another movie ever again…”

About the author

Scott Meridew