Ahead of the release of The Avengers: Age of Ultron this month, we here at The Indiependent are celebrating by looking in depth at the most defining achievements of it’s spectacular ensemble cast. The Avengers has a spectacular A-List cast indeed, in this special defining moments we pick out the best performances from cast members who may not have as many as five amazing films already behind them that don’t include Marvel films.
JEREMEY RENNER as SFC William James – THE HURT LOCKER (2008)
The Hurt Locker is more than just a defining moment for Jeremy Renner, it’s the defining moment. The Hurt Locker is a stunning turn out, despite being ‘Hawkeye’ a Marvel character who hasn’t been getting much screen time at all. Jeremy Renner has been in more of his fair share of popular action films and franchises including Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and The Bourne Legacy. Apart from these, Renner has a pretty fantastic track record which still includes Oscar films such as American Hustle and critically acclaimed films such as The Town and 28 Days Later.
However Renner has never done a film as hard hitting as The Hurt Locker, the film won six Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director, even earning him a Best Actor nomination. Renner’s performance in this film is as gritty as the film itself, and it personifies the achievement that Katheryn Bigalow created. Renner acts opposite fellow avenger Anthony Mackie (Falcon), in this psychological suspense driven war drama. SFC William James is a bomb diffusal specialist, who revels in the adrenaline of live/die situations. This ‘Maverick’ style cockiness ends up causing tension between him and his new squad that he’s been assigned to. Renner anchors the film in his unpredictability, it seems like the other actors in the film play off him rather than them playing off each other, which may not be the best equation, but it’s quite the feat in a war drama like this. Solidifying how Renner’s performance is the centre of the entire film, it’s funny because the only reason why Hawkeye hasn’t had much screen time in the marvel universe is due to his on going commitment to other projects, not because Marvel see him as a lesser character.
AARON TAYLOR-JOHNSON as Dave Lizewski/Kick Ass – KICK ASS (2010)
Despite being at the ripe young age of 24, just like Renner, ATJ has a few worthwhile and noticeable performances already behind him. These include indie films like Nowhere Boy, where he played a teenage John Lennon struggling with family life. But probably his most noticeable and famous turn is as ‘Dave’ in Matthew Vaughn’s Kick Ass. ATJ’s rendition of the comic book superhero was so memorable most people thought he was actually american due to his perfect accent. As an audience we follow Aaron’s lovable character through the highs and lows of trying to become a superhero who doesn’t have any powers and who isn’t a billionaire, but instead is just your average teenage nerd who reads comics and drools over internet porn. His performance is so honest and heartfelt, it’s hard not to feel empathy for such a realistic character. Now, Aaron is portraying the mercury speedster Quicksilver in Age of Ultron, a more physical and anxious character than any of his previous roles.
”He’s quick at everything, he’s quick tempered because everyone goes so slow for him.” – Aaron’s description of the character on set.
Even though he’s had a more than decent last 7 years in his acting career, Kick Ass is the only film Aaron has done hat has earned him a major nomination, this being the the BAFTA Rising Star award in 2011 which he lost out to Tom Hardy.
CHRIS EVANS as Curtis Everett – SNOWPIERCER (2014)
In terms of appearing in quality movies, Chris Evans has quite a mixed career. He’s worked in 30 movies since 2000, that’s at least 2 every year. And there’s a reason for this, In every movie I’ve seen Evans in, good or bad, he’s always a bright spark. The difference with Snowpiercer however, is that this is by far the best film he has ever worked on. Snowpiercer studies humanity and basic decisions – left or right?, look back or keep pushing forward? Evans has to deal and portray all of this, including representing the background history of his character ‘Curtis’ before the story begins. Evans does a beautiful job of using physical movements and facial expressions to reveal his character’s inner thoughts. Curtis, is a tortured man, and even though his inner turmoil isn’t as obvious in an dystopian environment, such as the train Snowpiercer, you can still see it lingering inside him and surrounding his presence. All this is due to Evan’s emotionally charged suspenseful performance.
Other noticeable performances for Evans include Sunshine, Scott Pilgrim vs The World (He’s evil ex number 2) and The Losers. Despite the ridiculously poor Fantastic Four films Evans was a part of, he was still a solid part of the two films, it’s quite obvious to see that even though Evans may not be the most talented actor of his time, he puts 100% into all of his characters and roles. With in turn makes him the perfect man for an honest character like Captain America.
Though he acquired instant stardom in his portrayal of Marvel’s thunderous demi-god Thor, Chris Hemsworth’s filmography is somewhat lacking compared to that of his older Age of Ultron co-stars. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that his cinematic debut was only in 2009 – playing the short-lived role of Captain Kirk’s father, George in Star Trek. However, in Ron Howard’s 2013 bio-drama, Rush, Hemsworth proved that his acting chops were worthy of far more than just Thor’s mythical hammer. In it, he plays James Hunt – the British racing car driver who won the Formula One World Championship in 1976 and was renowned for his intense competition with Austrian driver Niki Lauda (played by Daniel Bruhl). Hunt is in some ways, a lot like Thor; He’s charming, somewhat arrogant and a bit of a ladies man. But this is all secondary to his impulsive desire to race and to power-drive down that fine line between adrenaline and death. Hemsworth plays this ‘paradoxical’ role to great effect throughout the story, and the tense, yet likeable chemistry between him and Bruhl as Lauda is undoubtedly one of the more brilliant aspects of the film. Though the film did exaggerate certain facts, it has been conceded by those who knew Hunt – who died of a heart attack, aged 45 in 1993 – that the performances made by Hemsworth and Bruhl were strong and true to the real-life personas of Hunt and Lauda. Hemsworth still has a considerably long future in his portrayal of Thor, but his performance in this film just goes to show that he is more than capable of breaking free from that character, when the time eventually comes to hang up the cape and hammer.
Like his onscreen brother Chris Hemsworth, the actor behind the God of Mischief, Tom Hiddleston has a small, but slowly expanding filmography. The role of Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was arguably his breakthrough cinematicperformance and has lead to further roles in movies such as War Horse and the upcoming Guillermo Del Toro flick, Crimson Peak – as well as gaining him a loyal and dedicated fanbase. Putting the intense psychology of Loki aside, Hiddleston thrives most in independent roles, such as his performance as Adam in Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive. The film focuses on the eternal love between two vampires living in modern day Detroit. Hiddleston’s character, Adam, is something of a loner – withdrawn and suicidal, with nothing but his music to really satisfy him. Eve (played by Tilda Swinton) is his wife, who has been living apart from him in Tangier for some years before she returns one day to continue their love affair. But their idyllic seclusion together is disrupted when Eve’s reckless younger sister, Ava (Mia Wasikowska) arrives. Hiddleston plays the role of this moody grunge rock vampire very well, which in turn contrasts beautifully with Swinton’s more ethereal character. Their chemistry is both seductive and archaic too – proving that vampire romance isn’t quite dead in the wake of Twilight. 2015 is set to be quite a year for Hiddleston, as he will be adding threemore films to his CV, as well as a rumoured cameo in Age of Ultron. And given his immense talent and exquisite dedication to the craft, there can be no doubt that his career will only blossom further as the years go on.
ELIZABETH OLSEN as Martha – MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE (2011)
The sister of noughties twin superstars Mary-Kate and Ashley, Elizabeth Olsen has taken something of a more traditional path into her own acting career. Having appeared in recent films such as Kill Your Darlings and Godzilla, Olsen has proved that she is capable of playing strong roles in a number of different genres. But it is her breakout role in the independent drama, Martha Marcy May Marlene that is perhaps her most defining performance to date. In the film, she plays Martha – a young woman who suffers from delusions and paranoia after she escapes an abusive cult in the Catskill Mountains of New York. In the midst of this, she also struggles to re-adjust to daily life with her sister, Lucy (Sarah Paulson). Olsen excels in this role, subtly touching upon and picking through the multitude of emotions her character is experiencing in the wake of such psychological trauma. The delusions Martha has are so vividlycharged with emotion, and it is Olsen’s capability to channel this sense of fear that makes the film so chilling. Her chemistry with other characters, like Lucy and the cult leader, Patrick (John Hughes) are also eerily poignant. Olsen received a number of prestigious awards and nominations for her performance, in addition to critical acclaim. To have such an instinctual youngactress working behind the complex structure of Scarlet Witch in Age of Ultron, is sure to be a treat too.
Words by Eddie Michael and Annie Honeyball
Compiled by Eddie Michael