DC Movies Keep Getting Better and So Do the Performances
Marvel might still be the big dog, but with Justice League coming DC movies might start to give them a run for their money. True, fans have had their issues with many of the DCU films that have hit theaters recently, but I’m not here to argue about whether they’re any good or not (I’ll get to that some other time). Instead, I want to take a look at some of the best performances we’ve seen in DC movies to date. For this list, I decided to stick to their live-action films, another wise I would just list Kevin Conroy‘s name ten times (Batman from The Animated Series). That being said, this was actually much harder to narrow down than I thought, especially because I tried not to list the same character multiple times because then there would be three Alfred Pennyworths. The most exciting part of this list is that I’m sure it’s going to change dramatically over the next few years as DC movies get better and better.
10. Michael Shannon– General Zod
A lot of people had issues with The Man of Steel, but I think Michael Shannon was the best part of it, because for the first time on the big screen Superman actually had a villain worthy of him. Previous DC movies treated us to watered down versions of Lex Luthor, a Sean Connery-esque General Zod, and whatever the hell a Nuclear Man is. This Zod though was a fanatic, someone who truly believed in his cause and didn’t care what stood in his way. It was clear from the whole movie that he was barely holding it all together, and in the end, he lost it and made Superman pay in a grandiose way.
9. Billy Crudup– Dr. Manhattan
Zod made this list because of the raw emotion he embodied, Dr. Manhattan though is on this list because of the exact opposite reason. Billy Crudup played a god-like character in a world where no other heroes had powers. The result of which leads to him transcending his “human limitations” or in other words his emotional attachment to, well, anything. Crudup’s apathy though places him in a position where he sees humans as more trouble than they’re worth. Watchmen might not have been perfect, but the actors they chose really did justice to the characters making it one of the more interesting of the DC movies.
8. Jackie Earle Haley– Rorschach
Good things come in small packages and at 5’5” Jackie Earle Haley is about as small as you get. Still, when it comes to vicious vigilantes, Rorschach is the most intense one we’ve seen in DC movies. Haley plays the role of a man whose psyche was fractured at a young age and now grasps to his own moral code to find justice in the world. The only problem is that Rorschach can only see the world as a cesspool constantly spewing forth evil. Jackie plays him as a lone wolf type that pushes all those around him away because he can’t let evil in any form stand. The moment that he really stole our hearts was the infamous “None of you seem to understand. I’m not locked in here with you. You’re locked in here with *ME*! “ scene.
7. Hugo Weaving– V
The famed vigilante from the Alan Moore series managed to get his chance at a DC movie when Hugo Weaving turned him into a gentleman revolutionary. While you never truly get to see his face, that doesn’t stop Weaving from wearing his charm and emotions on his sleeve. He managed to disarm audiences with his stiff upper lip mentality but proved that there was much more lurking beneath the surface as he extracted coldhearted vengeance against those that created him and rule the government. It takes a lot of a man without a face to win over audiences, but leave it to Hugo Weaving to be just the man for the job.
6. Ben Affleck– Batman
There have been a lot of Dark Knights over the years and all of them have brought different qualities to one of the greatest heroes from DC movies. For me though, Ben Affleck offered a new side to the character. A man who believed in a mission that drove him to the point of exhaustion. This was a hero who wasn’t fresh-eyed and ready to save the world. This version was a man who knew Gotham City was a sinking ship and all he could do was bale water in an attempt to slow it. His methods had devolved from surgical to blunt over the years and he was a man that was still driven but had lost his faith. For me, he’s the Batman that I’d been waiting for.
5. Christopher Reeves– Superman
Sometimes the original is the best. While Henry Cavill might be the current Man of Steel, but he had to step into a pretty big pair of boots in order to wear the iconic “S.” Christopher Reeves was everything that audiences could want from Superman. The way he managed to go back and forth between Clark Kent and Superman was almost unnatural. Everything about him changed, almost as though he were a completely different person. Yet, he managed to make the characters two sides of the same coin. He was one of the first heroes to appear in DC movies, but he is the very definition of a hero.
4. Tom Hardy– Bane
The DC movies by Christopher Nolan are the definitive superhero trilogy. The reason why is because the villains were just so incredible. Bane was the man who broke Batman in the comics and Tom Hardy’s take on the character made him the biggest threat the Dark Knight could have ever faced. To say that Hardy didn’t devote himself entirely to the role would be an understatement. With half his faced covered, it was up to Hardy’s eyes to show everything that was going on in the keen mind lurking beneath that muscle-bound body. While it might not have been the best of the Batman movies, Hardy was the perfect villain to give The Dark Knight the fight of his life.
3. Gal Gadot– Wonder Woman
While Batman v Superman might have been about the two big boys of the DCU trading blows, it was Gal Gadot who left the biggest impact on audiences. Not only that, but the success of the Wonder Woman movie rests squarely on her shoulders as the mighty Amazon who says more with an arch of her eyebrow than Batman and Superman put together. Gadot uses her grace to create a woman who is clean, efficient, and almost beautiful in her method of dispatching villains. Not only that, but her keen sense of humor managed to keep her from being taken too seriously. There’s little doubt that she’s going to be one of the best parts of Justice League and I look forward to it.
2. Anne Hathaway– Catwoman
Michelle Pfeiffer might have been the first Catwoman, but she was far from the best (not as far as Halle Berry was though). Anne Hathaway proved to be a true femme fatale as she took over the role of cat burglar extraordinaire in the DC movies most recent version of the character. Everything about her fit the role perfectly, the way she would slink through a room, the way she seemed to dance through her fight sequences, the attitude that made her seem completely untouchable. If Catwoman ever does join the DCU, let’s hope that Hathaway comes back, because the next version is going to have her work cut out for her trying to follow that performance.
1. Heath Ledger– The Joker
Heath Ledger’s take on the Joker is why I do not make snap judgments about hero or villain casting announcements anymore. I remember how the internet insisted he was much too pretty and just didn’t have the chops to pull off the character. Well, he proved them all wrong in the end. His performance is the absolute best we’ve ever seen in all the DC movies. The detailed work he put into his performance made him the Joker. The facial ticks he suffered from, the improvisation, the fact that he made the character an absolute force of nature. It’s no wonder that he won an Oscar for the performance.
Those are the best we’ve seen in DC movies over the years, but with so many in various stages of production, this list is bound to change a great deal over the years. What do you think of the list though? Were there any performances that should have been on there that I didn’t mention? What’s been your favorite so far? Be sure to leave some comments below, because I love a good old-fashioned geek debate!