The Marvel Cinematic Universe has recently been under fire by action star Jason Statham, which has sparked a back and forth feud about which special effects style is better.Many are familiar with both Marvel Studios and Statham, both of whom are involved in some of the most popular films in the world. Statham first rose to stardom through his roles in Guy Ritchie crime films such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels in 1998. He then starred in notable films such as Transporter, The Italian Job, and Crank. Most recently, he has been a key member of the Expendables franchise and was the antagonist of Fast and Furious 7.
Marvel Studios, on the other hand, has recently flooded box offices with films about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a series of intertwined story lines that has lead to 12 extremely successful films since 2008. Most recently, they have seen success with their 2015 releases of The Avengers: Age of Ultron in May and Ant-Man in July in addition to the success of their Netflix show, Daredevil.
In early June, there were reported talks of Statham being in negotiations with Marvel Studios to portray Bullseye, the villain in the second season of Marvel’s Daredevil. Many of the fans were in support of the choice, however, in the week following it was announced that Statham dropped out of the negotiations, much to many fans disappointment.
This break in negotiations was immediately followed by an attack on the quality of acting in the Marvel films by Statham.
“I could take my grandma, and put her in a cape and then put her in a green screen and then have stunt doubles come in and do all the action — anybody can do it,” said Statham in an interview with I 400 Calci, an Italian website devoted to movie news, while promoting his new movie Spy. “They’re relying on stunt doubles and green screen and a $200 million budget. It’s all CGI-created. To me, that is not authentic.”
Statham is known to be a long-time supporter of analog stunt work in films, to such an extent that he has paid out of his own pocket to be able to perform stunts himself instead of having them computer generated. He is also a known advocate of including stunt-people in the Oscars.
Statham’s statement prompted various responses from some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s stars in defence of their work.
Mark Ruffalo, known for his role as the Hulk in the Marvel movies, was the first of the Marvel stars to respond.
“It’s Jason Statham,” said Ruffalo to Vulture.com. “He’s like a featherweight. He’s got nothing on me! Clearly.”
Although Ruffalo brushed off the attack by Statham with light hearted joking, his co-star Paul Bettany, known for playing both Jarvis and Vision in the Marvel movies, retaliated.
“[Statham’s] brilliant at what he does. I couldn’t do it. It’s true. There are times when I try to do as many of the stunts myself but there are times when it’s too dangerous or too tricky and even the producer says it’s too dangerous or too tricky for you,” said Bettany while speaking as a guest on Conan. “If there’s a really, really tricky scene with some very tricky dialogue, one might consider bringing in an acting double for Jason Statham.”
Both points may have some validity. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe uses both CGI and stunt doubles, it’s also a largely fantastical world. No amount of participation in your own stunts will make up the effect of lightning coming out of Thor’s hammer or a man turning into a green giant. Besides, the actors of Marvel are just that, actors, and often good ones as well. Their job is to act just like how a stunt doubles job is to perform stunts.
That being said, there is something impressive about an actor that is also able to perform their own stunts. Statham does make a valid point: more credit should be given to the stunt doubles who risk their lives for entertainment as live stunts do make the scenes more authentic. Should this creativity have to be limited to the ability to recreate the events of the plot in real life though? More importantly, should the ability to perform stunts be considered significant than other forms of acting such as voice acting and dialogue work?
It is something worth thinking about. Both sides hold an element of truth in their statements, even if some were meant as jokes. One thing is certain though: many Daredevil fans will live on in disappointment as it’s likely Statham will never be cast as Bullseye.