Hollywood stars

Why Hollywood stars can’t beat the image trap of franchise hits-Opinion News, Firstpost

With the exception of Sean Connery, few Hollywood stars have managed to overcome the burden of blockbuster franchise releases.

With Chris Evans in The Gray Man, the old jinx has once again made an appearance in Hollywood. If your fame rests primarily on being a star of the franchise, it’s nearly impossible to ignore the image trap of the particular role, unless you’re Sean Connery. It’s an old adage. Hollywood actors who extend fame through franchise roles have eternally struggled to shake off the image that particular performance brings in its wake, often never succeeding in overcoming the hexagon.

For millions of fans, Evans was, is, and always will be Captain America from the Avengers movies. It’s a role he’s tried flamboyantly for more than a decade in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) since reclaiming the Vibranium Shield in the 2011 global blockbuster Captain America: The First Avenger. , until Avengers: Endgame seven years later. Playing psychopathic former CIA agent Lloyd Hansen in The Gray Man was part of Evans’ recent attempts to carve out a place for himself as an actor beyond Captain America/Steve Rogers. Yet despite all the pre-release hype, Evans’ exit as Lloyd Hansen didn’t succeed beyond what his other post-Avengers acts — The Red Sea Diving Resort and Knives Out — did. to start a new phase as an actor.

The problem also persists for all of Evans’ other Avengers, who have created a global superstar with their respective roles in the MCU films. Robert Downey Jr, who became the world’s most expensive actor back when he signed on as Iron Man, ended up toasting the Razzies with Dolittle, the actor’s only release after his glorious run with the Avengers. He will now watch Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, a biopic by J. Robert Oppenheimer, for a successful reimagining. Christ Hemsworth tried to woo variety with Extraction, Spiderhead, Men in Black: International, and Bad Times At The El Royale, but stardom continues to rest on his avatar as Thor. All the other MCU biggies, including Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Paul Rudd (Ant-Man), Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Stephen Strange), Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff), and Tom Hiddleston (Loki) have worked hard to ignore the box office burden of their ultra-popular franchise characters. Tom Holland made an emphatic public announcement at the end of his tenure as Spider-Man a while back, emphasizing that he was determined to top the franchise for good.

It’s not just about actors from superhero movie franchises. Think Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig – actors who rose to international fame playing James Bond. Each of them has had little notable work beyond the spy franchise. Or Vin Diesel in the Fast And Furious movies and Sylvester Stallone in the Rocky and Rambo movies. All of these stars have very little to show beyond their respective career-enhancing franchises. They could never overcome the massive legacy of their franchise roles.

There were, however, two exceptions to the rule. First, there’s Tom Cruise (the Mission Impossible movies), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow in the MCU movies), and Christian Bale (Batman from The Dark Knight series), who managed to escape the trap of the franchise. The point to note here is that these actors were already popular names before signing on for their respective franchise roles. For Cruise, Johansson or Bale, fame wasn’t built around their respective franchise roles, which may have allowed them to escape the image trap, allowing them to maintain the same success rate. after the duty-free stay.

The second exception is Sean Connery. Of all the franchise-focused celebrities Hollywood has ever seen, Connery’s run as James Bond was one of the first, and also one of the most spectacular. From his 1962 arc as Agent 007 in Dr No via From Russia With Love (1963), The golden finger (1964), thunder ball (1965), you only live twice (1967) and up to Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Connery created a franchise superstar so immense and unparalleled that he was good enough to be brought back as Bond in the ‘non-franchise’ adventure 007 Never Say Never Again at the age of 53 in 1983.

The exceptional aspect of Connery’s stardom, however, lies in his post-James Bond phase. Far from struggling to carve out space in Hollywood after a franchise stint like most, Connery has reinvented himself with a big new career balancing lead roles in solo and multistar projects with character roles with younger stars. He would go on to play several memorable roles in the post-Bond phase that continue to retain a fan base and are as significant in defining his oeuvre as his 007 blockbusters. 2000s, these include The Name Of The Rose, The Untouchables, The Hunt For Red October, The Russia House, Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, Medicine Man, Rising Sun, The Rock, Entrapment, Finding Forester and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. There were also interesting roles in the films Indiana Jones and Highlander, which define Connery’s reinvention in distinct ways.

Connery’s ability to survive beyond Bond’s legacy may be due to two reasons. It worked and thrived at a time when screen success, devoid of advertising excesses and oversaturated marketing blitzes, was more organic and therefore less complicated. More importantly, even at the height of his Bond phase, Connery was already mixing his debonair super spy roles with non-James Bond assignments. Roles in films such as The Longest Day (1962), Marnie (1964), The Hill (1965), Shalako (1968), Ransom (1974), Murder On The Orient Express (1974), The Man Who Would Be King ( 1975) and A Bridge Too Far (1977) had established beyond doubt that Connery was good enough to rake the numbers past 007 before he even got out of the Bond franchise mode.

Hollywood has moved away from Connery’s time, of course. In an age where films often crumble under the strain of fan expectations created by social media hype and unnecessary PR extremes, it’s not easy for actors to sustain and survive beyond of the image that catapults them to the top, especially if the image is born of a role in a film franchise. The disease of style and substance hype has, after all, consumed showbiz for the past three decades or so.

A few like Sylvester Stallone have tried to solve the problem by reinventing the screen image, in a way that allows them to move from an older franchise to a newer one without distorting the basics of the image. Even as the appeal of his Rambo films waned in the 2000s, the action star was already trying to add a decade or two to his career with the films The Expendables and Escape Plan. These movies weren’t far from the Rambo prototype, but made to fit new age tastes. At 76, Stallone is set to return soon with a familiar ensemble in The Expendables 4.

In recent times, most of the actors who have courted fame mainly by being part of franchises sooner or later end up as producers or executive producers of these films. The motto is simple: if you can’t beat the picture trap, make a big moolah while it lasts.

Vinayak Chakravorty is a Delhi-NCR based film critic, columnist and journalist.

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