One could argue that for a movie to truly be compelling, supporting characters are as important as the ones at the center of the story. Yet, movies seldom find the time to properly develop these seemingly minor characters. More often than not these characters are not fleshed out enough to be considered anything more than cardboard cutouts carefully planted here and there to fill the empty space. Still, even if supporting characters don’t get a whole lot of screen time and development, but do get a discernible purpose, they can still be interesting to watch.
Superhero movies often have a very large cast of supporting characters. Naturally, it’s impossible to give all of them enough screen time to truly make them shine, but some do indeed manage to rise above the average. Well-written supporting characters can very ell be what makes the difference between a good movie and an amazing movie. At times, these supposed nobodies can even make a bad movie worth watching. Equivalently, lacking supporting characters can make a good movie worse and a bad movie unbearable. Today, we’re taking a look at 10 great supporting characters that made both good and bad movies better and 10 that didn’t stand a chance.
COULDN’T: THE WARRIORS THREE
The Warriors Three have been criminally marginalized and underrated in the MCU, to the point that they died uneventful deaths, deprived even of a proper last stand (unless you count Hogun’s feeble attempt). Throughout most of the Thor movies, the Warriors Three were treated more like comic book relief than as the fierce Asgardian warriors they are supposed to be.
Much of their involvement in the story had minor to no significance.
Thor: Ragnarok is an excellent movie, but it literally killed the Warriors Three. While at this point their deaths can be considered as a mercy killing, it’s a shame that the Warriors Three died in so unceremoniously. But even so, had the previous two movies developed these characters properly, their deaths, unexciting as they may have been, would have at least had more impact on the audience.
SAVED: VANESSA CARLYSLE
Defying the tropes of superhero love interest characters, Vanessa Carlysle is no damsel in distress — even if the movie did try to put her in such a position. Wade Wilson’s fiancée is feisty, independent, unapologetic, but also kind, loyal and devoid of vanity. Vanessa demonstrated incredible strength and overwhelming support when Wade was diagnosed with cancer. And once Wade came back after a year of absence, Vanessa made it clear she was very angry with him, but ultimately, she found a way to forgive him.
Despite the fact that this version of the character doesn’t have any powers, at least not for now, Vanessa also showed incredible courage by stabbing Ajax, even though he could have easily killed her. We can’t wait to see where Deadpool 2 will take Morena Baccarin’s character.
COULDN’T: JONATHAN KENT
The death of Jonathan Kent in Man of Steel is one of the movie’s most polarizing moments. After spending very little time with Jonathan, both the audience and Clark had to say their goodbyes, as papa Kent sacrificed his life to stop Clark from being the hero.
Jonathan was depicted as wanting nothing more but to prevent Clark from becoming Superman. He ended up giving up his own life in order to prevent Clark from exposing himself and at one point he even went as far as to suggest that Clark should have let an entire bus of children drown, instead of using his powers to save them. No wonder Clark is so angsty even well into his adulthood. To be fair, Batman v. Superman tried to fix this mess by having Jonathan’s ghost tell Clark he’s fine with him being Superman, but the damage had already been done.
Talk about a scene-stealer! Thor: Ragnarok’s lovable Korg had no more than four minutes of screen time, yet he became an absolute fan-favorite. The movie’s director, Taika Waititi provided the voice and did the motion capture for Korg, a character that was supposed to serve merely for exposition. However, once they got to shooting scenes with Korg, Chris Hemsworth kept coming up with jokes for Korg to say and things got a bit out of hand.
Eventually, the role developed into something much larger and Korg became Marvel’s new sensation.
The audience loved the adorable giant with a delicate voice, a heart of a revolutionary and penchant for dry humor. Recognizing Korg’s popularity, Kevin Feige stated that Marvel won’t forget about Korg and that he will most definitely be back at some point.
The X-Men movies tried to bring as many mutants as possible to the big screen and at times that resulted in extremely poorly adapted characters. Rogue is one such example. The Rogue from the movies is simply not the same character the fans know and love from the comics. But without any prior knowledge about the character, the movies could easily make you believe that Rogue is some kind of a scared damsel in distress, unable to fend for herself — which couldn’t be further from the truth.
In all of her movie appearances, Rogue spent most of her time either mollified, screaming in terror or trying to look emo. Stripped of her personality and spirit, Rogue was unimpressive, useless, unrecognizable and at times insufferable. Even as a supporting character, an icon such as Rogue deserved much better.
SAVED: YONDU UDONTA
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was one of Marvel’s funniest movies to date, but it was perhaps also the most emotional one. In the finale minutes of the superhero space opera we said goodbye to Peter Quill’s adoptive father, Yondu Udonta, with a surprisingly moving funeral scene. But the reason this scene was able to hit us so hard is because the rest of the movie made sure to give us the full, heartwarming story of the ravager Yondu Udonta.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 fleshed out new layers of Yondu’s character that were not visible to us in the first movie. We got to see Yondu as a father figure and a protector, who, in the end, gave his own life in order for Peter to live.
COULDN’T: RACHEL DAWES
There’s nothing wrong with creating original characters for movie and TV adaptations of comic book stories. In fact, when done right, we get characters like MCU’s Phil Coulson and Melinda May, Supergirl’s Alex Danvers or The Flash’s Harrison Wells. On the other hand, when done poorly, we get Rachel Dawes.
Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy did many things right — and for that it will always be held in high regard, but the invention of the original character, Bruce’s childhood friend and love interest, Rachel is not one of those things. Rachel, apart from being completely superfluous, was poorly written and desperately lacking depth. She was no more than a cardboard cutout, planted in the movie to spell out expository information and fortune cookie wisdom. Top that off with Katie Holmes’ lifeless performance and you’ve got one of the least engaging characters in superhero movie history.
SAVED: AGENT PHIL COULSON
Back when the MCU was still getting off the ground with Phase One films, such as Iron Man, Thor and The Avengers, the glue that held the universe together was none other than the beloved Agent Phil Coulson.
Agent Coulson made his debut in Iron Man, however, it was his appearance in The Avengers that had the most impact on the MCU.
Coulson’s death at the hands of Thor’s evil brother Loki inspired the Avengers to finally join forces in order to avenge Coulson. As we all know by now, Coulson wasn’t quite as dead as the Avengers had believed — and apparently still do, given that Fury managed to bring him back and Coulson got to lead his own team in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Coulson may not be in the movies anymore, but he continues to play a pivotal role in the MCU.
COULDN’T: HARRY OSBORN
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was riddled with issues — the most prominent one being the three underdeveloped villains. Harry Osborn, aka the Green Goblin, was by and large the worst character in the entire movie. Portrayed by Dane DeHaan, Peter’s alleged best friend Harry got so little development and screen time with his pal Peter that both their friendship and Harry’s transformation into Green Goblin would have come completely out of left field had we not known these characters already.
Save for a couple of scenes, most of Peter and Harry’s friendship is relayed through boring exposition. Had Harry been introduced in the previous movie, we would have gotten to watch him develop, instead of just being told that he did. In an already lackluster film with way too many useless characters and a weak plot, Harry Osborn stands out and not in a good way.
Chloë Grace Moretz was such a spotlight thief we’re not even sure we can rightfully call her Hit-Girl a supporting character. In the most delightful, hilarious and unexpected fashion, the 12-year old Hit Girl flitted about, brutally beating down thugs, while cursing like a sailor. No wonder she became such fan-favorite character — despite an outstanding performance by the star of the movie, Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
While Kick-Ass had a lot of awesome characters, including Hit-Girl’s dad Big Daddy, portrayed by Nicolas Cage, Chloë Grace Moretz’s Hit-Girl stands out above everyone else. Even in the inferior sequel film, Moretz managed to be one of the movie’s strong points. Now, if only Hit-Girl was given a spin-off, like her comic book counterpart, that would have been awesome.
COULDN’T: JIMMY OLSEN
If you aren’t overly immersed in the DCEU lore and more specifically Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice then the mere fact that Jimmy Olsen was even in the movie might surprise you. The reason behind this is the way the movie just skimmed over such an iconic character that is associated with Superman as much as Lois Lane. The manner in which Zack Snyder merely disposed of Superman’s pal Jimmy struck us as kind of apathetic. But according to Snyder, there just isn’t enough room for Jimmy in the DCEU so he wanted to have fun with the character in a limited amount of time.
Thus, Jimmy Olsen was depicted as the undercover CIA operative, who accompanied Lois Lane to the African desert posing as a photographer. Portrayed by Smallville’s Michael Cassidy, the character was promptly killed off after a few minutes of screen time.
Michael Peña’s Luis was one of the most memorable characters in Ant-Man and for a very good reason. With an overwhelmingly positive outlook on just about anything and a tendency to tell long overly detailed stories, Luis easily became a fan favorite. According to actor Michael Peña all he wanted was to be in a Marvel movie, but after shooting a couple of scenes the role got expanded and Luis suddenly became a much larger character.
Not only is Luis the funniest character in Ant-Man, he’s also one of the funniest characters in the MCU.
Luis is an especially successful example of an MCU original character who managed to make his way into Marvel comics. As for Michael Peña, we will definitely get to see more of him in this year’s Ant-Man and the Wasp.
COULDN’T: DARCY LEWIS
Try finding anyone who actually liked Darcy Lewis, and we reckon you’re gonna have a pretty hard time, considering the fact that the character is almost universally disliked. Darcy Lewis, of course, is an original character created for the purposes of the MCU, but we’re still uncertain as to what those purposes are. Even though there’s nothing offensive or downright intolerable about Darcy, she just doesn’t serve any purpose.
If you were to remove her form both Thor and Thor: The Dark World it would not affect the plot in any meaningful way. In fact, the most prudent solution is simply to have Jane Foster do whatever it is Darcy did, which mostly comes down to being the comic relief. Instead, we got two broken characters who have now been abandoned by the MCU.
SAVED: STEVE TREVOR AND THE TEAM
Wonder Woman was a delightful movie from start to finish. Although not without issues, it is still by far the best movie to come out of the DCEU, if Rotten Tomatoes scores and box office reports are any indication. One of the many things the movie did right was the supporting cast, starting with Diana’s partner and love interest, Steve Trevor.
Steve got just enough screen time, development and great lines for the audience to connect with him, without taking the spotlight from Diana. Gal Gadot and Chris Pine had excellent chemistry and it was an absolute joy to watch them save the world together. Equally enjoyable was the ragtag team of unlikely heroes Steve assembled for their journey. The Chief, Charlie and Sameer added even more heart to an already thoughtful film.
COULDN’T: JANE FOSTER
In the first Thor movie, Jane Foster was a somewhat decent character. It was through Jane that Thor experienced life on Earth and interacted with others. However, she never quite developed beyond an average love interest with a sidequest: her scientific endeavors. To put it simply, she was very dull. The sequel could have, and should have improved upon this — especially since Jane had an even more, pardon the pun, entwining role to play.
Yet, if Thor: The Dark World proved anything it’s that Jane Foster is not an important character, at least not in the MCU.
Natalie Portman’s issues with Marvel seeped into the movie and it was pretty clear she was eyeing the nearest exit. As it turned out, Jane really was irrelevant and unnecessary, since she was cut from the MCU.
SAVED: PEGGY CARTER
Playing the love interest in a superhero movie is usually a tedious task, with the woman falling in love with the big strong hero over the span of a few scenes only to be used as leverage against him later on. Luckily, Captain America: The First Avenger and the amazing Hayley Atwell managed to avoid this trope. British secret agent Peggy Carter was every bit as fierce, fearless, and competent as her superhero partner. Peggy had agency, personality, and complexity, which immediately made her a fan favorite.
The tough-as-nails Agent Carter even got her own show on ABC, which unfortunately ran for only two seasons, even though its quality was indisputable. A lot of fans, ourselves included, are still hoping that Marvel will find a way to bring the show back — if only for one last season to wrap things up.
Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin was a complete train wreck. No member of the cast stood out in a positive aspect, but one actress was just a tad more awful than the rest. Out of eleven Razzie Awards the movie was nominated for, only Alicia Silverstone “won” for Worst Supporting Actress, and this came as no surprise. Granted, the fault for Batgirl’s demise in Batman & Robin lies in both poor character writing as well as Silverstone’s unremarkable performance.
Silverstone’s portrayal of a schoolgirl was as unconvincing as they come, but her performance as Batgirl, especially in action scenes, was especially jarring. Not that the horrendous outfit did her any favors. But, in all fairness, no one really expected Batgirl, or anyone else, to save Schumacher’s film.
SAVED: WONDER WOMAN
When we say that Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is the best thing that’s happened to the DCEU we’re not exaggerating. The wonderful Amazonian warrior even managed to make the bleak Batman v. Superman movie exciting and hopeful — if only for a short period of time. The necessity to introduce Diana Prince in Batman v. Superman has been discussed ad nauseam, however, there’s almost universal agreement that she does know how to make an entrance.
In an epic scene, Diana showed up just in time to save Batman from imminent death set to the awesome Wonder Woman soundtrack.
In a very few scenes, Diana managed to show strength and fervor, heart and compassion, and true heroism. Gal Gadot’s solo movie, which came out a year later, only solidified Wonder Woman’s position as the fan favorite hero of the DCEU.
There’s a lot that went wrong with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but what quite possibly hurt the most was the insufferable version of Deadpool. Suffice it to say, the creative minds behind the movie decided to sew shut the mouth of the infamous Merc with a Mouth. From here on out, it just went further downhill. Not only did Ryan Reynolds not look anything like the comic book character, he was completely devoid of personality and even his powers were altered.
But perhaps the worst part about Deadpool’s portrayal in X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the movie’s failure to deliver the character that was promised. Wade Wilson’s first appearance in the movie was pretty faithful to the comics, unfortunately the movie then turned him into an unrecognizable abomination leaving the fans utterly bewildered.
SAVED: J. JONAH JAMESON
J.K. Simmons’ portrayal of the cigar-chewing editor of the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson, was ripped straight from the comic book pages and we still can’t get enough of him. Simmons’ J. Jonah Jameson is the jerk we all love to hate. He didn’t have an overwhelming amount of screen time, but what time he did get was used perfectly. The hilarious quips Simmons delivered throughout the entire Spider-Man trilogy were well written and brilliantly acted.
Most of us still remember quite a lot of Jameson’s lines and probably have our favorite Jameson moment or two.
J.K. Simmons has stated that he’s open to playing the character again, however, he’s currently busy with maintaining order in Gotham as DCEU’s Commissioner Gordon. But, whoever does end up playing Jameson in the MCU will have some pretty big shoes to fill.
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