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Performances In Comic Book Movies That Are Way Better Than They Have Any Right To Be

Updated November 18, 2020 62.7k votes 7.2k voters 246.0k views15 items

List RulesVote up the performances that surpass what you expect from comic book popcorn fare.

No one wants to be a part of a bad superhero movie, but by the same token, few expect comic book films to boast Oscar-worthy performances. Yet there are those occasional comic book movie performances that elevate the material way more than expected. Classic examples include Robert Redford in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3, and John C. Reilly in Guardians of the Galaxy.

These supporting performances transcend the general perception of comic book movies as lesser cinematic pursuits. These characters could have been bland, bad, or completely forgettable, but stood out because of the actors behind them. They’re way better than they have any right to be, and they're not isolated cases.

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  • J.K. Simmons was so good as Daily Bugle editor-in-chief J. Jonah Jameson in the original Spider-Man trilogy that he was brought back as the character in an entirely new continuity. No one else would dare play this role.

    Even in the lackluster Spider-Man 3, Simmons is solid. It doesn’t matter what his lines are or the circumstances of the scene, Simmons’s portrayal of the webslinger's biggest critic is animated, in your face, and hilarious.

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  • It’s not that we don’t always expect a powerhouse performance from the legendary Sir Michael Caine. We do. However, what Caine did with the role of Alfred Pennyworth in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy remains a tough act to follow.

    Caine’s Pennyworth is the heart and soul of the franchise, and he does everything in his power to nobly assist the Caped Crusader. He is a father, mentor, and friend. 

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  • Alan Cumming went all out as Nightcrawler in one of the best X-Men films to date, X2: X-Men United. Though the character’s teleportation abilities play a huge role in the film’s plot, so does his blue skin and alienated backstory.

    The actor took time to perfect his German accent for the film (he even speaks the language in it) so that Nightcrawler’s roots would truly shine through. It’s this devotion to his craft that makes X2’s Nightcrawler - a character that helped bring an unexpected amount of depth to the film - beloved by fans.

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  • Michael Peña plays Scott Lang’s friend and confidant Luis in Ant-Man. Peña said that he based Luis on a lovable criminal he grew up with named Pablo - a man that is perpetually happy without any pharmaceutical assistance.

    Luis is a character in every sense of the word. From his failed smoothie machine heists to his overindulgent recaps, Peña’s Luis steals the movie in a way no one saw coming. Also, an argument can be made that his van is one of the most important objects in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

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