Whoever lives or dies, one thing seems likely after Avengers: Infinity War: some of the actors you’ve come to love in their superhero roles will not be continuing. Heck, even if somehow they all live, these actors will age out of the part at some point. Time means almost nothing in comics, but in real life it is an ever-fading fire.
So what will you watch next, once your favorite Avenger is done? We’re here to offer suggestions, some more obvious than others (one reader’s obvious is another’s “WTF is that?”). All to let you appreciate the Marvel stars you like best in new ways.
Robert Downey Jr. is no stranger to playing wise-cracking action heroes, but it’s hard to recommend his action-hero take on Sherlock Holmes when the man’s own Infinity War costar Benedict Cumberbatch has done that character better. Instead, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is the must-see, with Downey directed by Iron Man 3‘s Shane Black as a thief who accidentally aces an acting audition, and is assigned to hang out with an actual private investigator (Val Kilmer) to prepare for the role. Together they witness a murder, and things generally go south, while staying consistently amusing
The American way looks a little darker in the world of Snowpiercer, in which Chris Evans stars as a guy from the lousy end of a self-contained ecosystem inside a future train. Fighting his way to the more affluent front of the vehicle, he ultimately realizes that the system is stacked into its rigid class divisions and brutal exploitation of labor in order to survive; if he brings it down, he risks everything and everyone. It’s a bit like The Winter Soldier with much more of a possibility that there’s no way to win. And with the Ancient One as a villain.
Chris Hemsworth works best when delivering Joss Whedon dialogue, and he did so in a non-Thor capacity for The Cabin in the Woods, a great genre-bending deconstruction of formulaic slasher movies. Finding himself cast as ‘The Jock” in a ritual sacrifice scenario designed to resemble a typical American horror movie, he attempts a daring escape from the entire scenario, and it goes very badly. But under Viking rules, he’d definitely have earned a spot in Valhalla.
If you like Bruce Banner and you enjoyed The Last Jedi, you must see The Brothers Bloom, Rian Johnson’s 2008 caper starring Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody as sibling con-artists. As the more dishonest of the two, Ruffalo shows off both his charming and ruthless sides, while Johnson fills the narrative with thematic reminders that we are watching a story being told…not unlike the more literal way Ang Lee used comic book panels to a similar end in his Hulk film.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Widow has no super powers (that we know of). So if you want to see Scarlett Johansson gain some major special abilities and kick more ass, check out Lucy, in which Luc Besson somehow manages to mash-up the craziest parts of Crank and Akira, with Johansson playing a normal American in Tawian who accidentally gets dose with a drug that unlocks all her brain power at once. before all is said and done, she evolves into a super-entity that travels back through time to create the first human life on Earth. But not before she has gotten in a whole bunch of high-energy fights with both cops and crooks.
Don’t be fooled by all the Oscar love for The Hurt Locker–it’s as exciting and action-packed as any superhero movie, albeit on a more realistic level. In the role that made Jeremy Renner an A-lister and arguably got him the Hawkeye part in the first place, Sgt. William James is an expert but reckless bomb defuser in Iraq, with nerves of steel that only get overwhelmed when he comes home and sees all the options available to him at the grocery store. He’s not as clearly a “good guy” as Clint Barton; in fact, his comrades (one of whom is Anthony Mackie) openly consider letting him die. But he’s every bit as lethal and accurate.
This may be a controversial call, but divorced from all the behind-the-scenes and casting uproars it caused at the time, Gods of Egypt is glorious nonsense and plays like the best possible movie adaptation of nearly every ’80s fantasy cartoon with a toy line: part Thundercats, part Masters of the Universe, part Silverhawks, all taking place on a flat planet Earth that consists entirely of a fictionalized Egypt full of European-accented people and giants. Chadwick Boseman feels like he’s in on the joke, and tears into his role as the multiple-bodied, hyper-intelligent deity Thoth with aplomb; in taking the role because he wanted African heritage represented in the film, he was ahead of Hollywood’s time.
Tom Holland‘s pre-Marvel resume is not long, but it includes The Impossible, from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom‘s J.A. Bayona, in which he survives a Thailand tsunami alongside onscreen parents Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts.
Star Trek Into…just kidding, folks. To watch Benedict Cumberbatch work wizardry using only his mind, check him out in The Imitation Game, as early computer pioneer Alan Turing, who helped crack Nazi codes in World War II. After maybe partly saving the world, he was chemically castrated by the government for being gay. While the movie is about as accurate as Hollywood biopics generally are–which is to say, everything’s fair game to tweak in order to increase dramatic tension–its success did lead to a posthumous pardon for the real Turing. The test to see if artificial intelligence is self aware still retains his name.
Not to cop out, but pretty much anything Don Cheadle‘s in should treat you well. Maybe skip Hotel for Dogs, but anything else.
Lightning round! If you like Vin Diesel voicing Groot, you’ll love him as The Iron Giant; Dave Bautista‘s great in Bushwick as a veteran reluctantly drawn into a new Civil War; Bradley Cooper’s underseen Clive Barker adaptation The Midnight Meat Train is a must-see for horror hounds; Chris Pratt‘s a great comic-villain opposite ex-wife Anna Faris in Take Me Home Tonight; and Zoe Saldana in The Book of Life gives Coco a run for its money (Avatar and Star Trek are just too obvious, y’all).
Did we choose wrongly, or wisely? Have your say in comments.
Featured image: Marvel Studios