Check out the first article in this series here!
Iron Man 3 – Rebecca Hall
Best Non-MCU Movie: Christine
Rebecca Hall is far too good for the slight role she was given in Iron Man 3. There was talk of her character originally being the main villain of the piece, but the whole Mandarin thing happened instead. To wash the taste of this out your mouth is easy, as her career is packed with great movies. My personal pick would always be The Night House because I’m a one-man hype train for that movie, but you already knew that. Instead, we have the ridiculously overlooked Christine, in which Hall plays the real-life part of the only newscaster to kill themselves on air.
Thor: The Dark World – Natalie Portman
Best Non-MCU Movie: Jackie
Natalie Portman took the role of Jane Foster in the first Thor movie as an attempt at something lighter than the physical and mental hell of shooting Black Swan. The ballet-freakout is by far Portman’s best performance, but her role as Jackie Onassis in Jackie showcases her ability to underplay. The wife of JFK is a role in and of itself, and Portman is both devastating and canny in brining this icon to life in the aftermath of her husband’s assassination.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Scarlett Johansson
Best Non-MCU Movie: Under the Skin
Scarlett Johansson has spent the last decade making me look like an idiot, and I’m very happy about it. Before her role as Natasha Romanoff, not only was I not convinced that she could act, I wasn’t convinced she could be a movie star either. Black Widow and Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin put that nonsense right out of my head. Not only is Johansson a bonafide movie star, she can also disappear so much into a role that not even my fellow Scots recognise her.
Guardians of the Galaxy – Dave Bautista
Best Non-MCU Movie: Blade Runner 2049
I have too much to say about Blade Runner 2049, so much that I need to take it in small doses or be forced to find my inhaler. Today’s small dose is about how fucking perfect Dave Bautista is in this film. A one scene wonder, his deeply felt performance, his humanity up against the cold reason of Gosling’s K, and the fact that the themes of the film are first delivered through him. Not only can he stand up to all of this, he’s the best thing about it.
Avengers: Age of Ultron – James Spader
Best Non-MCU Movie: Crash
There are important additions to the MCU in Age of Ultron, but they appear in later movies so I’ll get to them in due course. Before that, however, I’m going to commit the arrestable offence of using an article about the MCU to recommend absolute smut. James Spader was a horny actor back in his heyday, the man played such overtly sexual characters that his agent must have only sent him scripts in which his character fucks every other character. Crash, David Cronenberg’s masterful attempt to adapt a novel that its author, JG Ballard, said was meant to rub vomit in the face of the reader, is Spader at his most horny. You probably won’t find it on Disney +, but it’s a masterful, challenging, emotionally raw performance from Spader.
Ant-Man – Paul Rudd
Best Non-MCU Movie: I Love You, Man
Paul Rudd is a charmer. We all know it, we all accept it, and we all know that somehow Ant-Man wastes that charm. I Love You, Man uses Rudd’s charm at full wattage in a movie that puts the difficulty in making new friends as an adult male in a rom-com formula and works like gangbusters. It’s also one of the earliest films or TV shows to show off the dynamite comedy pairing that is Andy Samberg and JK Simmons.
If you enjoyed this article, please check out the rest of our MCU retrospective, as well as our look at the Batman cinematic universe, and consider supporting us on Ko-Fi!
By Kevin Boyle
(header image via ScreenRant)