Lesser Known Movies Featuring the Cast of The Avengers

Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 9:59 am

There are plenty of films starring actors and actresses from The Avengers franchise, and a number of these are lesser-known works that you may have overlooked or never even heard of. We hope to remedy that in this article, as we’ll be selecting 10 cast members of The Avengers and highlighting a quality movie that each has appeared in.

Film veterans like Robert Downey Jr. and Samuel L. Jackson have scores of titles to choose from, while newcomers like Chris Hemsworth possess a relatively small body of cinematic work. It doesn’t matter, though, as I’ve slogged through the filmography of each and every performer, dedicated to providing you with interesting and sometimes offbeat choices for your next trip to Netflix or the local video store. Just keep in mind that none of my selections are superhero related, so there’s zero chance of seeing Stan Lee make a cameo.

Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man)

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) – Harry Lockhart (Downey Jr.) is a petty NYC criminal who stumbles into a film audition while running from the cops. When his genuine outpouring of emotion is mistaken for skilled acting, he’s put on a plane to Hollywood and groomed for stardom.

In order to research his upcoming role, the studio pairs him with Perry van Shrike (Val Kilmer), a gay private eye who carries a pistol in his crotch and is even more of a smartass than Harry. But things get awfully complicated when the duo stumbles across a real murder and the bad guys come calling. Meanwhile, Harry attempts to romance a childhood crush (Michelle Monaghan), and his lies about being a real detective wind up getting him drawn into even more trouble.

One part comedy and one part hardboiled crime story, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang features a brilliantly acerbic script from Shane Black (who also directs), as well as perfect chemistry between Kilmer and Downey. Watching the snarky asides from the self-aware Harry are a great deal of fun, and the film even features a cameo from President Abraham Lincoln. If you’re still not convinced, be sure to check out this scene.

Chris Evans (Captain America)

Sunshine (2007) – The year is 2057, and the Sun is on the verge of dying. Seven years prior, a spaceship dubbed Icarus I was sent to Sol with the intention of detonating a massive bomb and re-igniting it. But something went wrong in the depths of space, and the ship was never heard from again. Now, with a new ice age blanketing the planet, the international crew of Icarus II prepares to give humanity one last chance. But their task won’t be an easy one, especially when they learn the true fate of the previous mission.

Danny Boyle helms this sci-fi thriller, and he shows off his talent for effortlessly working in multiple genres. The brutal power of the Sun is demonstrated repeatedly, and this is the kind of film that might inspire a child to develop an interest in science. Meanwhile, the ensemble cast is filled with both talent and familiar faces, including Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Benedict Wong, Cliff Curtis, and Michelle Yeoh. Look for Chris Evans in the role of Mace, the no-nonsense engineer stuck on what increasingly looks to be a suicide mission.

God of Thunder

Chris Hemsworth (Thor)

A Perfect Getaway (2009) – You’ll never want to go to Hawaii after seeing this intense psychological thriller from director David Twohy (Pitch Black). Two couples (Steve Zahn/Milla Jovovich and Timothy Olyphant/Kiele Sanchez) meet while hiking to an isolated beach, and their paranoia begins to grow as they learn of a double murder that recently took place on the island. Things are further complicated when fellow hikers Kale (Chris Hemsworth) and Cleo (Marley Shelton) arrive, and it should be obvious by this point that one of the couples has murderous intent. You’ll know who the villains are by the midpoint, but Twohy still manages to keep the tension as sharp as a butcher knife.

Mark Ruffalo (Dr. Bruce Banner/The Hulk)

You Can Count on Me (2000) – Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo both received critical acclaim and numerous festival awards for their roles as dysfunctional siblings trying to connect and get their lives in order. Linney gives a powerhouse performance, whether she’s carrying on an ill-advised affair (with Matthew Broderick no less) or appealing to her brother to change his wild ways. Ruffalo is equally great, as his character’s passion for personal freedom is contrasted by the affection he shows to his nephew (Rory Culkin). If you’re looking for a drama aimed at adults, You Can Count on Me is highly recommended.

Black Widow

Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow)

Eight Legged Freaks (2002) – Before she became an international celebrity, Scarlett Johansson appeared as the teenage daughter of an Arizona sheriff (Kari Wuhrer) facing down spiders of monstrous proportions. David Arquette has the lead role, starring as a young man who drifts back into his dying hometown to oppose the selling of his father’s gold mines by the greedy mayor.

But none of the political backbiting matters once the titular arachnids get juiced up on toxic waste and begin to rampage through the town. Watch spiders invade a barbershop. Thrill to an eight-legged assault on the local mall. Laugh as the creatures take out cats, parrots, teens on dirtbikes, and even elderly chain smokers. Arquette demonstrates his usual goofy charm, Wuhrer provides sex appeal and a take charge attitude, and Doug E. Doug is a standout as a local radio DJ and conspiracy nut.

Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye)

Dahmer (2002) – This is the part that ultimately allowed Jeremy Renner to win the role of Sergeant First Class William James in The Hurt Locker. He plays Jeffrey Dahmer, the real-life serial killer who murdered 17 young men and sometimes ate their remains or performed experiments on the corpses. The film is a somber, sad affair, with Dahmer’s troubled life followed from adolescence to adulthood. Renner gives a realistic portrayal of the man known as “The Milwaukee Cannibal,” and Bruce Davison is worth mentioning as his concerned father.

Tom Hiddleston (Loki)

Midnight in Paris (2011) – Sure, this may have been Woody Allen’s biggest movie in years, but it still didn’t play at any of the theatres within 50 miles of where I live. That’s why it makes the list, despite numerous Oscar nominations and critical raves. Owen Wilson stars as Gil Pender, a Hollywood screenwriter who’s working on his first novel with limited success. When he and his shallow fiancee (Rachel McAdams) journey to Paris, Gil takes a drunken midnight stroll through the city and winds up begin transported back to the 1920s. This is when the film is at its best, unlocking the true beauty of France while surrounding Gil with personalities such as Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody), Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston).

Nick Fury

Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury)

Cleaner (2007) – The critical community crapped on this thriller starring Samuel L. Jackson, but don’t let that discourage you from seeing it. Nick Fury plays Tom Cutler, an ex-cop who makes his living cleaning up crime scenes. But his humdrum–albeit gory–routine is interrupted when he’s hired to clean up considerable blood at a swank house, only to later find out that the crime had never been reported. Faced with the prospect of having destroyed evidence, Tom takes it on himself to get to the bottom of things. Co-starring Ed Harris, Eva Mendes, and Robert Forster.

Stellan Skarsgard (Dr. Erik Selvig)

A Somewhat Gentle Man (2010) – Moviegoers raised on American comedies may not know what to make of this Norwegian offering, but it’s highly recommended for more adventuresome cinephiles. The prolific Stellan Skarsgard stars as Ulrik, a criminal who’s released from prison after serving 12 years for murder. Now that he’s free, his colleagues in the underworld begin pressuring him to take revenge on the man who ratted him out.

Meanwhile, Ulrik seeks to renew his relationship with his son, but the young man’s fiancee doesn’t approve of convicted killers. There’s also the case of his landlady, a lonely senior who takes an erotic interest in Ulric much to his dismay. If you’re tired of lowbrow efforts from guys like Adam Sandler and Kevin James, take a risk on A Somewhat Gentle Man.

Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill)

The Slammin’ Salmon (2009) – It’s not exactly Monty Python, but The Slammin’ Salmon does manage to elicit some laughs thanks to the sheer enthusiasm of its cast (largely comprised of comedy troupe Broken Lizard). The premise revolves around “Slammin'” Cleon Salmon (Michael Clarke Duncan), a retired heavyweight champ who owns an upscale eatery in Miami. When he loses a bet to a Yakuza boss, Cleon has one night to come up with $20,000 in cash. So he proposes a contest to his employees: The waiter or waitress who makes the most money that evening will receive a $10,000 bonus, while last place gets beat up by the massive pugilist.

The bulk of the film follows the staff as they frantically entice customers to order the most expensive items on the menu. Meanwhile, we learn more about their individual backstories and quirks. And just to add extra pressure, Cleon drops by to issue threats and bask in the attention of his patrons. Michael Clarke Duncan is worth watching as the violent and somewhat dimwitted boss, while the waitstaff is highlighted by Jay Chandrasekhar and Cobie Smulders. Patrons include Will Forte, Lance Henriksen, Morgan Fairchild, Olivia Munn, and Vivica A. Fox.

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Movies with The Avengers cast are varied, and genres range from comedies to dramas to thrillers. Once you’ve thrilled to the adventures of Thor, Captain America, Iron Man and company, be sure to watch a few of these titles and see the actors and actresses before they had superpowers. You may also want to check out the following links from Only Good Movies:

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 26th, 2012 at 9:59 am and is filed under Good Movies, Thoughts on Film. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Lesser Known Movies Featuring the Cast of The Avengers”

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May 8, 2012

Buck Munson

Man, I forgot Scarlett Johansson was in 8-Legged Freaks. I enjoyed that movie. Oh, back when David Arquette was a headliner. I have to give a big affirmative on Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. That was back when Robert Downey Jr was considered “troubled”, but he gave the same quality performances and was still the same swell guy everybody loves now.

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