Friday, August 13, 2010

Top 7 Supporting Characters (Who Should have been the Leads)

Sometimes the hero of a movie is so powerful and charismatic that he makes the entire film revolve around him. Sometimes it's the reverse, and the main villain is the character remembered by the audience once the movie is finished, such as the Joker from Dark Knight. Other times, however, it is neither the hero nor the antagonist who takes center stage. Sometimes the character who we remember the most is one of the sidekicks or henchmen - supporting characters who are more memorable than the main cast. These characters stick out in our memories, and deservedly so. And so, without further ado, the Top Seven Supporting Characters (Who Should have been the Leads)

#7: Scrat, Ice Age
I think just about everyone who as seen any installation of the Ice Age Trilogy remembers the antics of Scrat, the... saber-toothed squirrel? Man, I don't even know what he's supposed to be, but boy is he a load of fun.

The makers of the Ice Age series really knew what they had going for them with Scrat. Even in Ice Age 2&3 (the plots of which were nowhere near as interesting as the original), the movies were both tolerable and entertaining thanks to the wordless mini-plot of Scrat going for the acorn. It's a lot of fun to watch, and has you in stitches the whole time. I could watch an entire movie just about this little guy, which is something I couldn't say about any other single character from the Ice Age series.

#6: Captain Barbossa, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
"You'd best start believing in ghost stories, miss Turner. You're in one!"

Man, I love this series so much. As I mentioned in my review of Sorcerer's Apprentice, Pirates of the Caribbean was one of the best received live action movies that Disney has ever produced, and though Dead Man's Chest was a bit of a let-down, At World's End brought back a good amount of the entertainment provided by the original. One of the reasons for this, in my opinion, is the inclusion of Captain Barbossa.

Though he was the antagonist of the first movie, Barbossa makes a return in the third as a helping (if somewhat less than trustworthy) hand. With the less than stellar talents of Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightly, it would take a lot more than just the formidable talents of Johnny Depp to save this film. Fortunately, Geoffrey Rush's performance as Barbossa was more than enough to redeem the third installation of this epic nautical adventure series. Despite the presence of Depp working at his side, Rush manages to make his character even more engaging, entertaining, and interesting.

#5: Jacob, Ink
"One, two, three, four..."

Have you seen Ink yet?

If the answer is no, then you have some serious problems. WATCH THIS MOVIE. Because, seriously. Damn.

It's hard for me to talk about this movie too much here, because there's so much about it that I don't want to give away. One thing I can talk about, however, is one particular character. I made a reference to him in my Ink review a few weeks back as a crazy blind man called a Pathfinder. However, this simple sentence does not manage to get across the awesome that Jacob has to offer. To say that he steals the show is similar to saying that The Beatles were popular - no matter how you phrase it, it's an understatement. The most awesome thing about him is that he's played by a complete unknown, yet manages to score a performance quality up there with Michael Caine or the aforementioned Johnny Depp. He blends humor with engima brilliantly, and it's a treat to watch.

#4: Gollum, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
"My own... my love... my Precioussss..."

I don't think anyone in the world saw the portrayal of Gollum coming in the second film in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. All of us in the know about the film's plot knew he would play an important role, but nobody in the world could have predicted the mastery of his portrayal. But holy damn was it there.

Ever since watching Two Towers, I have held the position that Andy Serkis is a genius. He managed to turn what could have been a rather annoying, slimy character into one of the deepest personalities in the entire trilogy - and he did it without ever appearing on screen. More than anyone else, it was clear that the actor behind the character had spend days upon days working on his character, perfecting the mannerisms and the movements. Gollum is terrifying and pitiful, loathsome and tragic, ruthless and guilt-ridden... he is a mass of interwoven conflicts that create a fantastically deep and engaging character, and he all does it through a face made of pixels and animation.

And speaking of animation...

#3: Kronk, The Emperor's New Groove
"Riiight, the poison, the poison for Kuzco, the poison chosen especially to kill Kuzco, Kuzco's poison.... That poison?"

As you probably gathered in my Top 7 Movie Villains List, I really like The Emperor's New Groove. It's among my favorite of the Disney Overmind's animated features, featuring some truly excellent comedic minds both behind the script and the acting. However, the one who takes the cake (and probably bakes it, too) is Patrick Warburton as Kronk, the less than perfectly enbrained henchman of the film's antagonist.

I... I don't know how to start. Every time he's on the screen you're at the very least chucking if not full-on screaming with laughter. While every other character has moments of brilliance over the course of the film, Kronk's entire performance is the moment of brilliance. I've seen this move many times, and each time I leave disappointed that there isn't more Kronk in the movie.

Now, Disney tried to make some spin-off movies that focused more heavily on this character, and unfortunately these attempts just didn't work out. Judging by that, Emperor's New Groove might not have been improved by a shift in character focus to Kronk. However, I can still dream that if it had happened, it would have been incredible.

#2: Han Solo, Star Wars Trilogy
"Never tell me the odds!"

I hate Luke Skywalker. While I have really liked Mark Hamill in his various voice acting performances (Batman and Avatar: The Last Airbender among them), I think that he was wholly unconvincing as the hero of the original Star Wars series. I like to think that George Lucas - who at this point had not yet gone batshit insane, which would lead him to make the prequel trilogy - realized that Hamill couldn't carry the performance along on his own, and so he went on a mission. That mission: create a supporting character so awesome that nobody would notice that his lead was falling behind. That character was Han Solo.

I don't think there's a single person reading this blog who hasn't seen at least one of the original (read: real) Star Wars movies. Normally I'd pick just one of the series to list in the title, pointing out the film in which he gave his best performance. But after reviewing my material, I honestly don't want to choose. Harrison Ford is such an incredible actor, and he was given an incredible character. Solo is also notable as the best written character in the series. Why? Because Han Solo's line were written by a different writer than the actual script: Harrison Ford. The vast majority of the time, Ford simply improvised his lines because, frankly, his ideas were better. For someone making up his script on the spot, he still managed to pull out some incredibly memorable lines.

And as we're on the topic of memorable lines...

#1: Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride
"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

Interesting story about this one - Inigo Montoya started off as #5 on this list. Then, over the course of the past few days, he continued to gradually move up the list until he finally surpassed Han Solo earlier this morning. The reason for this is because every time I started writing for the next person in line who would come after Inigo, I realized that I liked the dashing, Spanish sword master better than the character I was writing about at the time.

Inigo Montoya is one of those characters who gets an entire plot arc within a film to himself. The cast of The Princess Bride seems almost like a party of D&D characters - each one an important cog of the party, each with their own goals and backgrounds. Inigo Montoya would be the character played by the guy we all wish we could be. He's the perfect combination of kind, sympathetic, funny, and awesome rolled into one package. There's nobody in the world who doesn't root for Montoya - he's so likable that you want him to win simply on instinct. He has complete, easy control of the scenery, which makes him easily the most memorable character of the film. If that doesn't make a character deserve the title of Best Supporting Character of all time, then I don't know what does.


  1. Geoffrey Rush is always full of win. If you like horror movies see the remake of House on Haunted hill. He rocks my socks off in that, but only the scenes he is in.

  2. Han Solo -is- the secret lead in Star Wars. At least for me.
    I have a movie review blog too! I'd love to have anyone comment on my posts. You're welcome to visit!