The “Marvel formula” is a term used to describe the same-sameness of the dozens of films and TV projects from Marvel Studios. Most people focus on the obvious similarities in tone and structure. But the “formula,” if there is one, actually includes casting, as well. We’re seeing, more and more, these Marvel films include at least one or two iconic, legendary actors in small supporting roles, adding perceived gravitas to these superhero films. One of the earliest token legends was Anthony Hopkins, who debuted as Thor’s dad, Odin, back more than a decade in the original “Thor.” Since then, he’s appeared in several more of these films. But according to the actor, he doesn’t really hold the performances he gave in those films in very high regard.
Speaking as part of a recent New Yorker profile about the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe, Anthony Hopkins described his time as Odin. He doesn’t talk about how incredible the films are. He doesn’t mention how the other cast and crew are working hard to bring these stories to life. Instead, Hopkins just talked about how he got put in silly costumes and sat in front of a green screen. He went so far as to call the process “pointless.”
“They put me in armor; they shoved a beard on me,” Hopkins said. “Sit on the throne, shout a bit. If you’re sitting in front of a green screen, it’s pointless acting it.”
Clearly, Hopkins regards his time in the MCU much in the way folks like Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino think of Marvel films. Without saying so much, Hopkins implies that he was there to collect a paycheck and read the words on the page. And to be fair, Odin isn’t a character who has ever been given truly meaty scenes to showcase Hopkin’s true skill. But it does seem a bit odd for the actor to shit on his experiences acting in some of the biggest films of all time.
Recently, Hopkins’ “Thor” costar, Chris Hemsworth, talked briefly about the critics of the Marvel films, specifically Tarantino and Scorsese. He lamented the fact that he likely won’t get the chance to work with those filmmakers because he chose to lead a superhero franchise. It’s obvious that actors have a bit of mixed feelings about starring in these Marvel films, and Hopkins has chosen to be a bit more contentious.