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The Most Over-The-Top Performances In Comic Book Movies

February 26, 2020 14.1k votes 1.8k voters 130.6k views17 items

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When heading to our local cinemas for the latest comic book adaptation, we love to see over-the-top performances from the cast. While the most over-acted parts are typically the villains, this is not always the case (we're looking at you, Venom's Tom Hardy and 300's Gerard Butler). Villain or hero, these actors are clearly having fun, and we should just sit back, relax, and do the same.

From the truly weird, like Spawn's John Leguizamo and Batman Returns' Danny DeVito, to the campy, like Spider-Man's Willem Dafoe and Catwoman's Sharon Stone, these comic book movie performances are the ones we don't want to forget. Whether the movie in question is a genre classic or a piece of true dreck, these scene-stealers are worth the price of admission alone.

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  • When Joel Schumacher was brought on board the Batman film franchise, he restored the campy sensibilities of the 1960s television show, making for an even zanier aesthetic than the one Burton was going for with the first two installments. Highlighting this choice was the decision to bring Jim Carrey on as the Riddler.

    Coming off a 1994 that saw Carrey become a household name with the one-two-three punch combo of The Mask, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and Dumb and Dumber, the elastic comedian really brought his, umm, specific energy to Batman Forever. Using his penchant for crazy facial expressions and fast-talking vocal gymnastics, in addition to some wild costuming choices by the production team, Carrey is nothing if not over the top.

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  • When one thinks of John Leguizamo, images of his characters in films like Carlito's Way, the John Wick franchise, and Romeo + Juliet come to mind - or maybe even his portrayal of Sid the Sloth in the numerous Ice Age movies. But his most outlandish performance has to be his turn as the Violator in 1997's Spawn

    Upon first glance, it's hard to even recognize Leguizamo under the fat suit and prosthetic makeup. If you've ever wanted to see Leguizamo as a green gas-farting, cackling clown who transforms into a full-fledged CGI demon... well, Spawn is the movie you're looking for.

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  • In a film filled to the brim with over-the-top everything, from performances to production design, there might not be a crazier thing happening onscreen than whatever it is Danny DeVito is doing as the Penguin in Tim Burton's 1992 film Batman Returns. It's hard to describe just what DeVito is going for as the grumbling, deformed Oswald Cobblepot, but it definitely sticks in the memory. Whether sloppily munching on fish with blackened teeth or boring a hole in someone with heavily made-up eyes, DeVito is going for it.

    In his Rolling Stone review, Peter Travers considered DeVito's performance "hilariously warped." Whether we're amused by DeVito's character actually lording it over a horde of real penguins, or horrified when he tries to bite a man's nose off, we're always keen to see what happens next.

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  • Throughout the mostly monochrome world of 2005's Sin City, most of the performances - while certainly heightened - are not outlandishly, deliciously weird. Enter Nick Stahl's Roark Junior, a deformed, yellow hobgoblin of a man who snarls through his scenes with aplomb. With a bulbous head and distended belly, Stahl's villain meets his demise when Bruce Willis's detective castrates him onscreen in a scene that makes the viewer ponder just how strong Willis is if he can do that bare-handed.

    Stahl wasn't even originally supposed to be cast in that role, but after another actor dropped out, director Robert Rodriguez asked him to fill in. Unsure of how to approach the part, Stahl apparently told himself, "I have to make this into something big, and something scary." Mission accomplished, Nick.

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