6 Supporting Characters That Deserve Their Own Movie
People keep complaining that interesting movie characters are few and far between, but that's not because they don't exist. They just tend to cluster in the same films, because cool folks like to hang out in the same bars. Unfortunately, unless you're in a Marvel/Disney movie, there's usually just the one protagonist and a limited amount of supporting characters. That often means that a great number of hugely nuanced, immensely movie-worthy fictional folks are reduced to lesser roles than they should be getting. In my ongoing attempt to unleash the world's villains, sidekicks, and comedy bit parts to the glory that they deserve, I humbly request that Hollywood get off its ass and make the following goddamned movies, stat.
The Bank Manager From The Dark Knight
As Jared Leto found out in a barrage of Insane Clown Posse jokes when his Joker was unveiled to the world, debuting the latest version of a hyper-beloved pop culture character is extremely difficult. That's why the opening scene of The Dark Knight is so damn impressive. It's an immaculately designed bank heist, planned to the most minute detail in a way that immediately reveals that this Joker is a far deeper, more cunning villain than we could ever have expected. And we were already expecting the impossible.
Oh, and the whole damn movie was this close to being exactly three minutes long, because a single man came within an inch of demolishing the Joker in a way Batman has spent 76 years utterly failing at, armed with nothing but a sackful of grit, a fancy suit, and a nasty shotgun. That man was William Fichtner's unnamed bank manager, and he's the fucking boss.
Think about the complex character Chris Nolan manages to create in roughly a minute of screen time. He's the bank manager, and therefore should be easily the sissiest character in that scene. Yet when he hears commotion in his bank, he doesn't try to hide. He doesn't panic, or even show any emotion. His two reactions are:
1. Taking off his glasses
2. Grabbing a goddamned shotgun and proceeding to blast his way through any and all opposition.
"Deposit or withdrawal, motherfucker?"
Note that the bank was already well-guarded. He just felt like wrecking shit. These should not be the actions of some throwaway comedy villain. That's a 1980s action hero who finally gave in to the dark side and took a nice-paying gig ... until he's needed for one final job.
The Joker can thank his fortune that it was him robbing that bank, and that he thus had popularity power on his side. Had virtually any other villain from Batman's rogues gallery attempted to rob the cash guarded by Fichtner-manager, the movie would have been precisely three minutes long and ended with a buckshot enema. Shit, had he made it through the robbery scene, the bank manager might have given fucking Batman a run for his money. Bruce Wayne spent the entire duration of The Dark Knight running around with a batsuit that could barely stop a knife while getting surprised by villains. This guy's whole modus operandi is looking like a harmless bank manager, then blasting you with a freaking shotgun out of nowhere. I know how I'd place my bets in that particular confrontation.
Rarely-seen alternative ending to The Dark Knight.
I'm not the only one intrigued by this guy, either. There's even a fun fan theory that he actually survived Joker's grenade treatment and became Killer Croc. And while I wouldn't go as far as turn him into an actual member of Batman's rogues gallery, I'd love to see more about this guy on the big screen. I think a Bank Manager With A Shotgun solo movie could go in two ways. Either look into his no-doubt profoundly insane backstory, or have him survive the Joker's assault and embark on a stone-faced yet bloody trail of vengeance in a manner not unlike Fichtner's demonic Accountant character in Drive Angry.
Actually, let's totally go that latter route. That way, even if Suicide Squad proves to be a giant turd, they can always end the extended edition by having Fichtner bust open the doors of Joker's hideout, give him a long, hard look, and wordlessly shoot him in the dick.
Simon And Hans Gruber From The Die Hard Franchise
For years, I've kept hearing things about a Vega brothers movie, based on John Travolta's Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction and Michael Madsen's Mr. Blonde (real name: Vic Vega) from Reservoir Dogs. Even today, you hear rumors about it sometimes, despite how the movie would have to be a prequel (what with both characters being spectacularly dead at the end of their respective movies), both Travolta and Madsen are several decades older, and their cool black suits would have to be muu-muus at this point.
Personally, I've never understood the attraction. Cool as he was, Vincent Vega was essentially a massive fuckup who spent his entire movie failing in spectacular ways, dancing through a minefield of mistakes fueled by sheer dumb luck, and finally dying one of the most undignified deaths in the Tarantino-verse thanks to yet another screw-up. Witty and charming as he may have been, Mr. Blonde's idea of maintaining stealth in a hideout was to loudly blast music while torturing a cop. Together, these dipshits would be, at best, the boring non-vampire parts of From Dusk Till Dawn.
Besides, it's not like there aren't more movie-worthy brothers out there. For instance, how about a dip in the Die Hard franchise? How about a Gruber brothers movie, bitches?
"I'm the less popular one!"
One is an extraordinary thief with a penchant for murderous supervillain schemes. The other is an East German Special Forces Colonel turned terrorist. Neither likes the other very much. Together, they are crime. Imagine what these two could plan together. Imagine the mayhem they would cause. Imagine the Ocean's 11-style heist movie we'd see unfold. Shit, if you want, just reboot the whole franchise (it's not like it's been all that enticing recently, anyway) and pit a brand-new John McClane against both brothers at once. Provided they steer the hell away from hacking traffic lights and whatnot, there's no way in hell this wouldn't be the greatest movie ever made, according to the only critic who matters: me.
As with the Vega brothers, the movie would obviously have to be a prequel, so I can imagine recasting being a giant pain in the ass. Jeremy Irons doesn't get to do all that much with his Simon, so as long as they include a scene where the new guy wears that weird Kitana-from-Mortal Kombat tank top of his, I think we should be golden. Hans Gruber, on the other hand, would be a fucking nightmare. Where can you find a new Alan Rickman? The world's still nursing the shock from the loss of the old Alan Rickman.
Goodnight, sweet prince.
Maybe Miles Teller? I'm not a huge fan of the guy, but he might be able to bring in the younger Gruber's peculiar combination of ruthlessness, smarminess, and cool -- at least, provided we'd get him in Whiplash mode instead of whatever acting coma got him through Fantastic Four. But you'll probably disagree with that, as is your holy right as an internet denizen. So feel free to give your own suggestions in the comments.
Jabba The Hutt (You Know Where He's From)
In recent years, there's been a certain amount of buzz about a particularly solo-movie-worthy Star Wars character. He dabbles in smuggling and various other crimes, yet wields a significant amount of power within the franchise. His natural charisma and handsome features make men punch the air and women (and, let's face it, a considerable percentage of guys) uncomfortably adjust their underwear thanks to sudden, extremely localized wardrobe malfunction. His tragic (if not entirely unexpected) death left many fans' hearts in tatters.
I'm talking, of course, about Jabba the Hutt.
If the lovable maniacs of Wookieepedia are on top of their shit after the Disney acquisition and the resulting death of Extended Universe, Jabba Desilijic Tiure (the "the Hutt" part is just a Captain Obvious reference to his species) was pretty much the tightest motherfucker in the entire galaxy for the entirety of his six-century lifespan. You know he was a crime lord. The movies said as much. But even with all his carbonite antics with Han Solo, his grand showing in Return Of The Jedi paints him more as a slovenly gang leader than a galactic super-gangster who presides over everything and can negotiate with the goddamned Empire on more or less even terms. The Rebels and Clone Wars animated series expand on his status somewhat, and paint him as the super-powerful kingpin he's meant to be. Oh, and he also has a dysfunctional family of other Hutts who vie for power in their council, the control of which Jabba eventually manages to gain.
Unfortunately, Pizza the Hut was not a member.
Can you see where I'm going? This is The Sopranos in space, people. The Godfather in space! Yet the majority of moviegoers know Jabba only as the giant turd-slug Leia strangled in inexplicable D&D underwear. Without insulting the upcoming Rogue One, I can't imagine a better way than a Jabba the Hutt solo movie to introduce the viewer to a movie universe that has hitherto been mostly about an extended Thanksgiving slapfight of a single dysfunctional family. Who gives a shit about the wacky misadventures of some Corellian rando or a useless bounty hunter in dented armor, when you can have a sweeping look at literally everything in the Star Wars universe from the viewpoint of a character who has interacted (and can interact) with absolutely everyone in said universe?
Sarah Whittle From Jumanji
Most people remember Jumanji as a neat Robin Williams vehicle in which a magic board game keeps terrorizing people with jungle elements, big-game hunters, and shit CGI lions. While it's definitely all that, it's also a rare gem of a film: a movie where Robin Williams doesn't play the most interesting character. Oh, he's pretty neat -- a kid who gets sucked into the jungle world of Jumanji and matures into full Robin-Williams-ness in this Tarzan-esque environment. But at least he knows what's happening. Sure, he might be trapped in green hell, and his only chance to get out for good is to successfully finish the game, but at least he's aware of the rules he has to follow and the motions necessary to accomplish his mission. Hell, he has a mission. All that makes him a pretty straightforward protagonist, although one with wackier-than-average facial expressions.
But here's the thing: Williams' character, Alan Parrish, wasn't playing the game alone when he got sucked in. He was playing with a friend, Sarah Whittle. And from her perspective, Jumanji is a very, very different movie. Here's how it goes for her: She plays a board game with her friend. Suddenly, Alan gets sucked into a crystal ball, and then huge fucking bats appear out of nowhere and chase her away. For the next 26 years, the whole town goes to shit around her. Alan's father -- a significant employer -- ruins his life (and by abandoning his business, many others as well) in his attempts to search for his son. Sarah herself doesn't have it any easier. She's distraught, probably thinks she's going insane, and doesn't know what the fuck is going on.
This lasts for 26 years. Then a couple of kids turn up on her door and say that she has to finish the very game that ruined her entire world in the first place.
Only to be immediately subjected to shit like this.
Sure, at the end of the movie, Alan and Sarah regain their childhoods and live Happily Ever After. But adult Sarah doesn't know that shit. For a quarter of a century, her life's been a total horror movie. Which, incidentally, isn't a terrible description of Jumanji's nature. A creepy board game? People disappearing into other dimensions? Creepy fucking magic animals out of nowhere? Years and years of psychological torment and uncertainty? The question is not whether that would make a kickass modern horror movie. It's why it isn't one already. Really, all you need to do is switch focus from Alan to Sarah and get the people behind The Babadook or It Follows on the case, and you're sitting on the best scary movie of the decade.
Only don't literally sit on it, because that shit can start spewing monkeys and lions at a moment's notice.
Related: 5 'Bad' Movies (That Aren't)
Marla Singer From Fight Club
I've seen Fight Club more times than it is socially acceptable to admit, and I've reached the following conclusion: There are two super-interesting, nuanced characters in that movie, and neither one is who you're thinking about right now.
I know this'll probably shave yet another three weeks off my life in whiskey-fueled pop culture arguments in random dive bars (you're buying), but hear me out. A great character is like a great song. You can play it as a bombastic harmony orchestra version, or just play its leading melody with two fingers on piano. Hannibal Lecter has been played as everything from an angsty teenager to Le Chiffre, while managing to keep the essential tenets of the character. The Narrator / Tyler Durden, on the other hand, is not so much a character as he is a story. It's impossible to think of either outside of Fight Club, because he's not a character in the movie. He is that movie.
Now, Marla Singer, on the other hand . . .
There's also Bob Paulson, but more on him another day.
The Femme Fatale archetype is as cliche as they come, but it's rare to spot one who is not only somewhat realistic, but also genuinely intriguing. Marla singlehandedly wrecks the Narrator's shit simply by existing, yet manages to come across as a very real human being in a movie specifically designed to feature so few of them. Fight Club does eventually reduce her to a fairly one-dimensional love interest type, but for the better part of the movie, she remains intriguing as hell, and one of the precious few Fight Club characters who actually come across as fully rounded and nuanced enough to carry a movie.
Marla's legitimately cruel wit, homespun nihilist musings, and keen interest in wallowing in misery are rare traits in a female movie character. Sure, she might be a little on the goth side to fly in the post-ironic-whatever-the-hell late 2010s, but let's face it: That's largely a casting thing. Helena Bonham Carter is an excellent actress, but her Burton/Potter years have permanently sewn her in a mental black lace dress, as far as the public is concerned. You might want to revel in that and show a slightly older Marla causing nihilistic mayhem in whatever setting you might want to slap her in, Gregory-House-style. Or just recast and focus on her life until -- or even better, after -- some mentally troubled fucker came along and exploded every bank in the world.
And that's the key to her movie. What went on inside that wonderfully fucked-up mind of hers that led to her deciding that the best person to be with was a paranoid schizophrenic with multiple personalities, a glowing fondness for violence, and a tendency to blow up entire chunks of major cities? We have to get inside that head.
Short Round From Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom
The only person in the world who doesn't hate Short Round is Shia LaBeouf, and that's only because the diminutive sidekick's existence means that Mutt Williams doesn't automatically win every "Most Hated Indiana Jones Character" vote. Hell, I hate the character, and thanks to several long, boring summers with a fairly limited VHS collection, Temple Of Doom has been etched into my soul as my favorite Indy movie. It's a character flaw, I know, but we don't get to pick the hand we have to play.
See, of course we hate Short Round. He's a child and comic relief with annoying dialogue -- two things that are sure to throw the more jaded viewer off a bandwagon within a minute. It was the 1980s. Every protagonist was legally required to have a wacky child sidekick. Couldn't be helped. If we look beyond that, Short Round is actually a pretty damn capable character. He is a proficient adventurer and martial artist. He acts as a protege/liaison to the most prominent murder-archaeologist of his era. He's basically Temple Of Doom's equivalent to Sallah, another Indy sidekick whose movie-worthiness I've been known to rant about. And Short Round does all this while being a 11-year-old orphan.
This is a face that has seen some shit.
Yeah, did you think Indy just kidnapped a random Chinese kid and forced him to act as his chauffeur? I don't blame you -- the movie doesn't delve too deep into Shorty's backstory, and Indiana Jones certainly is the kind of dick to pull a stunt like that. In reality, however, Short Round has an elaborate backstory custom-designed to equip him with the kind of badassitude Indy himself can only dream about. He is actually Wan Li, the oldest son of a Shanghai steel plant foreman who was orphaned by Japanese bombings at freaking six years old. He spent enough time at a Christian mission to pick up English and some rudimentary education, then hit the streets and became a self-taught Jack-of-all-trades within Shanghai's criminal element. That's right, "Short Round" is not just some semi-insulting nickname Indy gave him after his pet guinea pig or whatever -- it's Wan Li's self-assumed street name.
This is the true nature of the character who annoyed us in a single movie and then went away forever. Does this not seem like a waste? The Indiana Jones franchise spans decades, Temple Of Doom was the first movie in the timeline, and it's not like the kid who was spin-kicking voodoo maharajas and driving cars at 11 is going to get less badass with age.
Short Round, age 30.
So here's my proposal: Let's make Short Round the villain of the next Indy movie. Better yet, let's make him the hero, and Indy the villain. It only makes sense that there would be a world of animosity between them. Dr. Jones has been wrecking priceless cultural artifacts for decades, and Short Round isn't so much as mentioned in the movie continuum after 1935. Maybe Indy put his life at risk one too many times. Maybe he cheated Shorty at cards too much. Maybe Indiana Jones won't talk about his former ally because he thinks the kid got crushed under a giant rolling stone on his first, thankfully un-filmed attempt at stealing the golden idol from that temple in Peru. Maybe, unbeknownst to Indy, Short Round survived, and Revenant-crawled back to civilization, his mind filled with nothing but determination and complex plans for revenge. Plans that now, years later, he's finally ready to execute.
And maybe, juuuuust maybe, he could first take a detour to arrange a brutal, inescapable death trap for Indy's annoying greaser son.
Deep inside us all behind our political leanings, our moral codes and our private biases, there is a cause so colossally stupid, we surprise ourselves with how much we care. Whether it's toilet paper position, fedoras on men or Oxford commas, we each harbor a preference so powerful we can't help but proselytize to the world. In this episode of the Cracked podcast, guest host Soren Bowie is joined by Cody Johnston, Michael Swaim and special guests to discuss the most trivial things we will argue about until the day we die. Get your tickets here!
If you want more supporting characters just waiting to be stars, then check out 4 Supporting Characters Who Deserve Their Own Movie, and give some love to Podrick in 19 Underrated Characters Who Deserve Their Own Spin-Offs.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see why Batman could use Robin to deflect the ladies in The Horrible Truth About Batman's 'Secret' Identity, and watch other videos you won't see on the site!
Also follow us on Facebook, because it's like Cracked's supporting character. (But with an extremely compelling love plot.)