When was the last time you saw a movie with a totally kick-ass supporting character who completely overshadowed the lead? That's a trick question; tons of movies are like that. The function of most supporting characters is to balance out the overall experience by being just that little bit weirder / wackier / creepier / more normal than audiences are prepared to accept from the protagonist. Often, moving these characters front and center takes away from the overall experience (see: Captain Jack Sparrow). However, as I've argued before, there are a fair few characters who have practically no chance at all to ever feature in a movie of their own, despite the fact that they could totally carry one.
Want examples? Because man, do I have examples.
#4. Gunner Jensen From the Expendables Series
When The Expendables hit movie screens, tons of my friends were surprised at the amount of screen time devoted to Dolph Lundgren's character, psychotic drug addict / sniper / knife enthusiast Gunner Jensen. To me, this wasn't a huge surprise, because I already suspected that Lundgren would easily stand out against the frankly limited acting chops of the rest of the cast. Dude can be pretty versatile, is what I'm saying:
Yes, that's four minutes of Ivan Drago singing A Little Less Conversation, dancing, playing the drums, and karate-breaking shit, and yes, you're welcome.
In fact, Lundgren's relatively low ranking in the pantheon of action heroes has always baffled me. He's been in tons of movies, but between Rocky IV and The Expendables, the vast majority of his films struggled to reach even C-movie status. Sure, his roles as Ivan Drago and He-Man give him enough 1980s cred to belong in the list of great old-school action men, but his actual legacy train seems to have stopped somewhere between Seagal Junction and Post-1990s Van Dammetown. This is despite the fact that the man is the closest thing to a real life action hero the scene has -- a Scandinavian giant whose mere picture can make criminals run for their lives, and who once legitimately punched Sylvester Stallone in the heart so hard that the man was hospitalized. Dolph Lundgren the real person did with one punch what Ivan Drago the fictional fist-god couldn't do with a thousand.
Even today, Stallone only attacks him from behind to play it safe.
Part of this is probably because after you establish yourself as the "I must crush you" guy and He-Man, there are precious few types of roles you get offered. Lundgren has spent the vast majority of his career as a stoic murder machine who lacks any defining traits (things like Seagal's kitch factor, Van Damme's splits and spin-kicks, Stallone's trademark scowl, etc.). With Gunner Jensen, he's finally gained a character with characteristics beyond "big, fights people, generally docile until--." Jensen is basically Rambo, if Rambo was your drunk uncle and kind of a shithead, and Lundgren is playing him with gusto. That's a genuinely interesting character, one I'd very much like to see in a standalone movie.
So, Mr. Stallone, if you're reading (and why wouldn't you be?): man, you've had a great run, but you can't keep starring in movies forever. You're pushing 70, while Lundgren is still a relatively spry 57. So why not move behind the camera and break the world's brain with a Gunner Jensen movie? Just give him a gritty mission where he has to drunkenly stumble his way to, say, Hong Kong, while battling a criminal syndicate (or law enforcement agency, for that matter) led by Tony Jaa and Michael Dudikoff, and we're all. Fucking. Set.
#3. J. Jonah Jameson From the Original Spider-Man Trilogy
Marvel Enterprises/Columbia Pictures
Dear reader of Spider-Man comics: before Sam Raimi's first Spider-Man movie came out in 2002, would you for a second have believed that J.Jonah Jameson could be a sympathetic character? This Hitler-mustachioed borderline sociopath has generally been portrayed as a petty motherfucker of the highest order. And thanks to his position as the editor-in-chief / publisher of The Daily Bugle, he's arguably one of Spidey's most enduring foes, being responsible for two of his most traditional troubles: poverty and negative public opinion. Incidentally, those are also foes he can't just punch until they go away. Rhino ain't got shit on Jameson; he's killing Spider-Man slowly with stress.
And then came the movie, and suddenly J.J.J. was seven kinds of awesome. He was still a dick, sure enough, but he was now a dick portrayed by J. K. Simmons:
Even YouTube commenters can't find anything bad to say about him.
Personally, I view Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson as one of the best comic book casting decisions ever, comparable to jackpots like Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark. Can you spot the difference between the two? That's right, Downey compromises his mustache with a goatee. Also, with a multi-picture deal worth tens of millions of dollars. I get that there are fundamental differences in the roles. Movies about a billionaire with a garage full of robot suits tend to draw more asses to seats than ones about a Nazi-faced publisher screaming bullshit at his subordinates. But that doesn't mean a character as juicy as Simmons' J.J.J. should remain in the sidelines forever.
Jameson's history in comic books is long and storied. As a young journalist, he was there to witness the rise of superheroes as we know them. He was a war correspondent during World War II, putting his neck out there with the Howling Commandos (yeah, the guys Captain America fought with back in the day). There's the family tragedy that drove him to focus on his career. There are heart attacks. There are seemingly weekly clashes with various superpowered individuals, in no small part thanks to his tendency to slander them. Oh, and at one point he was the freaking mayor of New York City.
Marvel Enterprises/Columbia Pictures
I haven't read that arc, but I'm imagining he spent most of his tenure looking like this.
Look me in the eye, Hollywood, and tell me you can't churn out a decent script out of those ingredients. I don't really care what direction you take. Political satire? Sure. A Marvels-style historical arc where a regular dude attempts to cope with the emergence of superheroes and his skepticism about their true merits? Even better! Simmons walking down 5th Avenue in costume and swearing at random people for two hours? Baby, you just described my dream movie.