Have you ever re-watched a comic book movie from years ago, and saw a performance that was so great it made you ask the question “what happen to them”? That character (and actor) either never returned for the sequel, or weren’t acknowledged later in their cinematic universes. After doing some research, I realized there were quite a few great comic book character portrayals. All of them I would’ve loved seeing in more movies, but unfortunately it never happened. So I put together a list of five performances that I loved, and were ones that were never seen or heard from in the movies that followed.
Here are five of my favorite one & done comic book character portrayals.
1. Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth (X-Men Origins: Wolverine)
One of the few redeeming qualities of that awful X-Men: Origins Wolverine was Liev Schreiber (the other being Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool). His portrayal as Sabretooth was a very dark, with so much intimidation. His chemistry with Hugh Jackman was so good that at times I forgot how bad the movie was.
So What Happened?
X-Men: Origins Wolverine ended up being a small profit for Fox, but was demolished by critics and fans. The studio’s intentions going forward was to make audiences forget about that movie, which unfortunately included Schreiber’s portrayal of Sabretooth. However, rumors are swirling the upcoming Wolverine 3 could see Schreiber return for Jackman’s final film as Wolverine. Its certainly possible when considering how Reynolds is returning as Deadpool next month. And as far as I know, there were no problems between Schreiber and the studio. So maybe this isn’t the last of Schreiber’s Sabretooth, but for now I’m treating it like so.
2. Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler (X2: X-Men United)
Some would argue that Nightcrawler’s White House Attack is not just the greatest comic book opening scene, but one of the best opening scenes for an action movie. I wouldn’t argue against either. Seeing Nightcrawler teleport and fight in slow-motion was one helluva an introduction for the character. After that scene, director Bryan Singer took a step back and explored Nightcrawler as a person, including his past and his beliefs. Alan Cumming was perfectly cast in the role, and gave that character its necessary performance to make him memorable and scene stealing.
So What Happened?
A portrayal as great as Alan Cumming’s Nightcrawler required an extreme amount of preparation and training. At one point, the actor had to endure 10 hours of make up just for one scene. There’s behind the scenes footage which showed Cumming say “never again” as he sat on the makeup chair being worked on. The actor was ultimately open for returning X-Men: The Last Stand, until Fox felt the money and time spent on preparing the character wasn’t worth it. In recent years, Cumming expressed interest again in returning as Nightcrawler, however, that opportunity and universe has long passed. Still, I would’ve loved to see Cumming return as Nightcrawler for the end sequence in X-Men: Days of Future Past. I feel that he’ll be a memorable character looking back on Singer’s universe years from now, and belonged with that original cast.
Kelsey Grammer as Beast (X-Men: The Last Stand)
Speaking of that god awful X-Men: The Last Stand, I absolutely loved Kelsey Grammer as Beast. Like Origins, this film had some redeeming qualities in its characters, and at the top of that list is Beast. The character was everything I expected him to be. Intelligent, diplomatic, and someone who could throw down if need be. Grammer was excellent in the role, and I especially enjoyed his back and forth exchanges with Wolverine.
So What Happened?
Unfortunately, X-Men: The Last Stand is the movie where Fox decided to be the studio its known for today. One that meddles around a film’s production and starts making unnecessary changes. Massive rewrites and re-edits helped X-Men: The Last Sand become the franchise killer. Audiences and critics hated what the studio did to characters like Professor X, Cyclops, and Jean Grey. Bryan Singer’s absence was also hugely felt. The franchise went soul searching after The Last Stand until X-Men: First Class. As for Kelsey Grammer, he was courteous enough to make a small cameo in X-Men: Days of Future Past, which having him there alongside Singer’s original cast just felt right.
Thomas Jane as Frank Castle (The Punisher)
One of my guilty pleasure movies is the 2004 movie The Punisher, starring Thomas Jane and John Travolta. I was never a huge fan of the Punisher character in the comics. All I knew was his tragic story and that he was highly dangerous and tactical proficent with weapons. For me, Thomas Jane is The Punisher (until I see Jon Bernthal). I thought he played the character well, and carried the slower moments. The movie might not have been as strong as the performances from Jane and Travolta, but its one I can watch repeatedly for its mindless action and character moments.
So What Happened?
As I stated above, The Punisher movie was not favored by many fans or critics. Lionsgate attempted to go a different direction with a new actor (Ray Stevensen) and a more violent film in 2008’s Punisher: War Zone. That movie did far worse financially, but comic book fans seemed to respond better to its violent direction. The Punisher character is currently back with Marvel, and is set to make his debut in Daredevil Season 2. As for Thomas Jane, he ended up reprising his role as The Punisher in a short film titled Dirty Laundry, which you can find on YouTube. The film was well-received by fans, and actually had many begging Marvel to consider bringing Jane back in the role. Unfortunately, Marvel doesn’t like acknowledging films prior to its cinematic universe.
Hugo Weaving as Red Skull (Captain America: The First Avenger)
If there is one character in the M.C.U. which fans are hoping to one day see return, its the Red Skull. The arch-nemesis of Captain America was so memorable and awesome in The First Avenger. I thought Hugo Weaving was a perfect cast, and really gave one of his better performances with the scene stealing character. As you may already know, Red Skull never died in The First Avenger, and was instead sent to another location/dimension. Yet, Marvel has yet to acknowledge the character so far as I can tell.
So What Happened?
As great as Weaving was as the Red Skull, he has very critical opinions on the movie. The actor has gone on record stating he’s “indifferent from the movie” and that his preparations during production were stressful and long. Recently, Weaving suggested that blockbuster films are in the past for him now, and he wants to focus on other things. He remained open to the idea of returning, but gave it the smallest margin of possibility.
As great as his portrayal of the character was, Marvel may already be preparing to move on. Rumors state that Daniel Bruhl’s character in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War could be a reincarnated version of the Red Skull, although we’ve heard that story before with Robert Redford. Whatever happens, Marvel is wise enough to not let a character that rich and well received just sit on the shelf. The Red Skull will be back someday.
Honorable Mention: Edward Norton as Bruce Banner (The Incredible Hulk). Later replaced by Mark Ruffalo.
Who are some of your favorite one & done comic book character portrayals? Any of them from this list?