HHe’s like a young Al Pacino, they would say. It’s a phrase Oscar Isaac has probably heard more than anyone on earth, except maybe Pacino’s three children. The comparison was first drawn when the Guatemalan-born actor broke into Hollywood in the early/mid-2010s with compelling roles in films such as In Llevyn Davis, Ex Machina, A most violent yearand David Simon’s miniseries show me a hero. Why Pacino? Isaac’s unmistakably Corleone-esque turn A most violent year certainly fueled the fire; as is Pacino’s history of exploring Latin American roles (best known in scarface). But there was also something ethereal about it. The way both actors could cool a room with a reproachful look; her amazing, vivacious charisma. Isaac would have been a poor fit Serpicojust like Pacino would have made an unholy Llewyn Davis—but as far as generational equivalents go, Isaac seemed like a talent from a bygone era for a while.
In 2015, the comparison became a little harder to justify. Isaac took on his most iconic role to date, filming it as the third wheel in a galaxy far, far away Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ frothy fighter pilot Poe Dameron. A role as a CGI-veiled villain in The Excrable X-Men: Apocalypse followed, as did two other Star Wars sequels. During the half-decade he’s been in the Star Wars machinery, most of his smaller work has failed to impress either. On site (2017) and life itself (2018) were downright detested by critics; his better projects (destruction; At the gate of eternity) only saw him in unspectacular supporting roles. After Rise of Skywalker came out, Isaac began to be more open about his frustration with the franchise, joking that he would only go back to Star Wars “if I needed another house or something.” “It’s not really what I set out to do,” he said. “My ultimate goal was to make handmade films and to work with people who inspired me.”
After washing his hands from Star Wars, Isaac appeared to be making a convincing return to his form with meaty character roles on HBO’s Scenes from a Marriage Series and Paul Schraders The card counter. But the reprieve was short-lived. Starting Wednesday, Isaac stars as the lead in Marvel’s latest Disney Plus series. moon knight. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Marvel will know that their commitments almost certainly won’t end moon knightThe six announced episodes. There will likely be movie crossovers. Additional Seasons. Maybe even animated voice overs. It’s not just Marvel that has its hooks in it, either. He will also star as Solid Snake in an adaptation of the hit video game series Metal Gear Solid – another project likely to spawn sequels. Just when he thought he was out, they pulled him back in.
Isaac is one of the best actors to ever get stuck in the franchise’s purgatory, but he has plenty of company. In the 11 years that he led the Marvel franchise as Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. delivered almost no other notable performances (except for Sherlock Holmes – another franchise). Many of the world’s best actors — including Tom Hardy, Mark Ruffalo, Florence Pugh, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, and now Mahershala Ali — have dedicated themselves to long-running superhero franchises (though their other work hasn’t suffered as badly as Downey Jr. ). Timothee Chalamet was seen as something of a purist aberration for refusing to sign up for a superhero vehicle – although that didn’t stop the youngster from being dragged into a Willy Wonka prequel and a proposed hat-trick duneS
There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with big-budget franchises. When done well, they can be as compelling and meaningful as any other form of cinema. But not the majority. The great tragedy of our modern-day franchise fascination is one of the omissions — the unrealized masterpieces that must go so everyone can get eight more helpings of Jimmy crime-fighter. Imagine if Pacino was tied to a five-picture Batman deal afterward The Godfather came out. Or whether Robert De Niro continued taxi driver with a trilogy of Power Rangers prequels.
Pretty much every filmography has its flaws — God knows De Niro has seen his share of stinkers. But there’s a reason the great actors of the 20th century are still considered the gold standard. Why everyone is lamenting the demise of the A-list movie star. Once an actor is inducted into the big franchise machine, it becomes their whole thing. It becomes what they are asked about in interviews. It becomes what they are recognized for on the street. It becomes the thing that will overwrite their obituaries.
Of course, great actors have always taken on minor roles for a quick buck, or because they felt like it, or a myriad of other factors. But we still have to wonder about the legacy of today’s great actors. How much enduring virtue is in watching actors being dragged through the mechanism of a rigid, all-too-familiar comic book franchise?
That’s not to say moon knight It’ll hurt that Isaac and his co-star Ethan Hawke, despite the shackles of Big Disney, won’t be able to deliver worthy character work (although his threadbare English accent bothered him a bit). We can’t really fault anyone for being drawn to this type of work either. It’s just discouraging when you consider that a big-budget character play starring Isaac and Hawke would never have been made if there wasn’t a chance he might shake hands with Spider-Man at some point. Maybe Isaac really is the next Pacino — but for the foreseeable future, he’ll just be Oscar Isaac: Star of moon knight.
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/features/moon-knight-marvel-oscar-isaac-robert-downey-jr-b2046974.html From Oscar Isaac to Robert Downey Jr., why are today’s great actors trapped in dreary franchise body sex?