4 Supporting Characters Who Deserve Their Own Movie
Do you ever get a funny feeling during movies? Wait, no, that's not what I meant. Don't answer that.
... during Human Centipede? Really? That's ... actually kind of impressive.
Anyway, the feeling I was talking about is that peculiar moment when you realize that a cool character in a film isn't getting their due. Sometimes, these annoying occasions of wasted potential are because the movie plain sucks. Other times, it's the other way around, and we only get a glimpse at the full glory of these characters because the film is so jam-packed with other awesome stuff.
It's a shame, really, because this means that loads of flicks are just teeming with interesting yet underused fictional entities that could easily carry a movie on their own. I'm talking about characters like ...
Gimli, Son of Gloin
You know Gimli. He's the token Dwarf in the Fellowship of the Ring and pretty much the only member of the party who doesn't really accomplish anything of significance in the course of the movie trilogy. He exists mainly to fill the ever-important role of a bumbling goddamn ass.
Except that he isn't a bumbling ass at all. Go check the books -- dude's hardcore. In the source material, Gimli isn't just some schmuck tagging along as an obligatory representative of the Dwarven minority, oh no. He's the absolute cream of his people's crop, a wise and strong combatant who is able to lay the smackdown on equal terms with Legolas, Middle Earth's premier effeminate parkour murder machine. Even in the movies, where he spends roughly 120 percent of his screen time as comic relief, he actually wins a "let's see who can kill the most orcs" dick-measuring contest between the two, armed with only a battle-ax, as opposed to Legolas' mumakil-slaying arsenal of bows and arrows and blades and mad skillz that is prominently displayed throughout the trilogy, to the point where the Elf's kick-assery even bleeds through to the Hobbit franchise. Yeah, Gimli beats his ass. Add this to the fact that he's portrayed with extreme gusto by a massive Welsh man that looks like he eats three Orlando Blooms for breakfast ...
John Rhys-Davies on the left, forcing Viggo Mortensen to avert his eyes in impotent shame.
... and you should have a pretty bad larger-than-life motherfucker on your hands.
Gimli being a total hard-ass makes sense in every way. It justifies his presence in the Fellowship as a key player of the team, rather than some guy who just started rambling about axes at the meeting in Rivendell. It explains his ability to keep up with Aragorn and Legolas, the respective uber-specimens of their races, and his bromance with the latter that in the movies comes out more like Legolas taking a pet monkey than a legitimate, respect-based friendship between two strong warriors. Yet, in a movie trilogy rife with wacky hobbits and cartoonishly slimy villains, they wind up portraying the Dwarf as little more than an overreacting butt monkey. Sure, I get why they do it. The initial comic reliefs, Merry and Pippin, are way too busy having horrible things happen to them for the vast majority of the trilogy's runtime to actually, you know, be super funny and shit. Still, it bugs me just how eager the filmmakers are to make Gimli the clownish oaf, to the point where he doesn't even have to actually appear in the movie to be its laughingstock. In The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, there's a scene where Legolas mistakes a picture of baby Gimli for a "mutant goblin." As callback jokes go, that's kind of harsh, considering we're talking about a character who is essentially a spectacularly bearded Wolverine: hairy, short, snarky, good at murder and sharp objects, and fucking terrible at giving up.
Keep that image in mind, see the look on his face, and wonder how this scene somehow doesn't
end with a horde of Elven archers beaten to death with their own arms.
And that is why we -- no, I -- need a Gimli movie. Would it be a cinematic masterpiece? No. Would it skull-fuck Tolkien's memory in a way the Hobbit movies can only dream of? Absolutely. But how badass would, say, 90 minutes of Gimli scream-hacking his way through Moria, Doom-style, be on a scale from Wuthering Heights to Arnold punching out a camel? There wouldn't be enough camels and punches in the world to properly rank that film.
Besides, I think this is the least Hollywood can do after subjecting us to five Tolkien movies where the only Dwarf fighting styles are "clumsy fuckery" and "put the fattest one in a barrel and make him spin around."
Scott "Cyclops" Summers, the field leader of the X-Men, is a pretty strange character when you think about it. Despite the fact that he's one of the most accomplished badasses in the Marvel Universe that somehow manages to tick most boxes in both hero (tall, handsome, powerful, charismatic leader) and anti-hero (haunted by the past, tendency to be a gloomy dick, sunglasses) charts, he's a perennial target for writers' potshots that just doesn't seem to catch a goddamn break.
In most incarnations, ol' Cyke is depicted as either a stuck-up, whining ninny with emotional issues or a borderline sociopathic, "duty first" character (that is also a stuck-up ninny with emotional issues). The second he opens his mouth in the movies, it is clear that the writers settled on the first category. With his stuffy behavior, cartoonishly preppy civilian clothes, and a tendency to get his ass handed to him the second a fight begins, the big-screen Cyclops is a deliberate contrast to Wolverine's effortless coolness, spending two movies getting pushed deeper and deeper in the background until he's unceremoniously killed off-screen in that third movie we shall not taint ourselves by discussing further. Even his one saving grace on the coolness scale, the ever-present ruby quartz sunglasses, is deliberately and gleefully undermined:
Man, I didn't even know they still made Oakley Douches.
Not that it's a surprise. Throughout his character history, Cyclops has had a few things going against him. First, he is the leader of the team, and thus stuck with the calm, collected Leonardo archetype, which can be awesome if done right (see: Leonardo) but always runs the risk of making the character boring. Also, his optic blast powers are a problem because he can end pretty much any fight simply by looking at it, so the only way some writers could make the other X-Men seem useful was to make Scott the pussy that gets knocked out five seconds into most battles. Finally, he was one of the first Marvel superheroes to get a serious, ongoing romantic storyline, which ended up hijacking the character to an extent that over the years, armageddons have been brought forth because of who Cyclops has been fucking, and his massively super-powered children and their psychotic clones litter the time stream. The only reason the Avengers haven't tackled him and slapped an adamantium chastity belt on him years ago is because Tony Stark refuses to make anything with the word "chastity" in it.
But remove all the stupid soap opera fluff and take him away from his field leader comfort zone, and the core of the character is basically a Tom Cruise action hero with an ability to level mountains. You may think this doesn't sound as rough and tumble as, say, Wolverine, but since A) Wolverine and Cyclops have fought each other approximately 7 billion times and their win-loss records are pretty even, and B) please don't bring the two festering ball-sacks that are Wolverine's solo movies into this discussion; I'd say Mr. Summers has a pretty damn good chance to convince us as a hero in his own movie. Writers like Joss Whedon have managed to bring out the greatness in the character -- there's no reason why it couldn't be translated to the big screen.
Oh, and let's never recast the role, no matter what Bryan Singer thinks of the subject. I will go to my grave thinking that James Marsden is awesome in the role, and could easily multiply that awesomeness if the universe would just stop kicking him in the dick and handed him a decent script.
Feel free to recast that fucking stupid looking visor as much as you like, though.
I like Indiana Jones. I like all movies featuring him, even that one parody where we're supposed to believe that he's borderline geriatric, Cate Blanchett is Russian, and Shia LaBeouf is cool. But as great as everyone's favorite whip-wielding archaeologist is, there is actually one character in his movies that is far, far more interesting than him.
I'm talking, of course, about Mola Ram.
Amrish Puri, seen here in his other famous role.
I'm not, really. I just said that as an excuse to use the best clip in movie history>, provided you like Mola Ram in a Napoleon getup and an absurd wig (and who wouldn't?). Now that I've got that out of my system, let's talk about the real badass in the Indiana Jones movies: Marion Ravenwood.
Seen here punching Indy with an efficiency giant Nazi goons can only dream of.
I realize that Marion isn't really allowed to be the hardcore character she starts out as all the way through the films, but that doesn't mean I need to accept it. By the rights of her introductory scene in Raiders alone, this character should be up there in the pantheon of female action heroes with Ellen Ripley and ... uh, that clone of Ripley from Alien: Resurrection?
If she'd punched this guy like she punched Indy, his face would've melted without any nearby Arks.
So why not put her there? The unholy turdfest that was Kingdom of the Crystal Skull didn't give us much, but at least it did confirm that the character is still alive in the Indy universe and fully capable of adventuring. What's more, there's no need to recast the role or mess with any of that prequel horseshit. While Harrison Ford did his fourth stint as Indy looking more or less like an actorsicle someone left in the sun, Karen Allen still looks perfectly capable of kicking bad guy butt should the need arise.
Also, mighty fine.
See? Just pick up where the fourth movie ended; have her put her clearly geriatric husband in a nursing home, stick Mutt in a bus with a one-way ticket to the military academy in Bumfuck, Arizona, and sic her on a treasure hunt in North Korea or something. It'll be fine, I promise. It'll be fine.
This is an old pet theory of mine, so I can anticipate what you're going to say about now. "Doc Brown?" you exclaim. "The '1.21 gigawatts' guy? The nutty professor archetype that is best known as an eternally hammy source for parodies like this?"
And I get what you're saying. Seemingly, there are few characters who are less in need of a spinoff. Doc has plenty of screen time in all three movies, a pretty neat character arc, and, most importantly, way too many annoying quirks to properly work as a main character. I've seen the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, I know how disastrous it can be to place a scenery-chewing supporting character front and center.
"Are you comparing me with Johnny Depp? Because I'm ridiculously cool with that."
But maybe he'd work as the main villain of one. Why? Because of the Libyans. You know, the guys Doc stole a bunch of plutonium from to power his flux capacitor, and who drove the plot of the first movie in motion with their hippie van execution antics:
The second scariest Volkswagen Transporter any of us ever saw.
What kind of guy just steals fucking plutonium from fucking Libyans he had acquainted himself with in 1985, when they were basically ISIS: the Country in the eyes of America? Could someone with that a-bit-too-handy crazy exterior have such resources if he truly was just some Hill Valley loon? Hell no. You need skills and equipment. You need to know people, in a way some random backwoods tinkerer like ol' Doc just flat-out cannot do ... unless that fucker is hiding something.
You know what, I'm calling it: Emmett Brown is a bad guy. Sure, he probably started out as a harmless inventor dude fixated on time travel, but when some loser kid from the future visits him in 1955 and proves he will eventually make it, he gets serious. Carefully keeping up his facade, he starts collecting the ridiculous amount of supplies and contacts he needs to build and power his time machine. He affiliates himself with people and organizations that can help him in his quest, like the Libyans, and presumably CIA-backed freak science programs like DARPA for funding. Slowly, steadily, he keeps up appearances while gathering everything he needs. Once Marty comes around, he befriends him in order to use him as a human test subject (knowing full well the Libyans' hit will wind up sending Marty to the future, thanks to that letter Marty left him in 1955) and troubleshooter. Every time some tangle in the timeline comes up, Doc just summons Marty and makes him fix everything, while the mastermind himself remains more or less in the background, taking notes and figuring out how to do things right the next time.
Sure, there are plenty of bumps in the road. But by the time the trilogy concludes and Doc Brown gets his happy ending, it just so happens he has a fully functional flying, steam-powered, and who knows how well armed time-machine train at his disposal. "You going to the future?" asks Marty. "No," Doc answers. "Already seen it." After all, why would he head to an age where people are technologically advanced and can potentially fight back? That's not how Time King Brown rolls, not now that he has finally perfected his craft. Not now that he can finally show them all.
"Choo choo, motherfuckers."
So, yeah. I'm not saying that the real reason they never made a fourth Back to the Future movie is that the test audiences responded badly to Emmett Brown: Time Train Dictator, but I will probably argue the point for hours if we ever meet and I have enough whiskey in me.
For more from Pauli, check out 4 Video Games That Are Actually Worthy of a Movie Adaptation and 4 Upcoming Reboots That Must Be Stopped.
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