We’ve all noticed the trend, even if we’ve never spoken of it. We treat it like an embarrassing family secret, even though we all know the truth. With all these superhero movies hitting theatres recently, it’s now becoming increasingly impossible to ignore. And so we must pose the ultimate question—why do all these foreigners keep playing American superheroes? In the past 10 years Batman has become Welsh (Christian Bale), Spider-Man has gone British (Andrew Garfield), and they even made the Green Lantern Canadian (Ryan Reynolds). With the recent announcement of Brit, Henry Cavill, playing the latest reincarnation of Superman in Superman: Man of Steel, we can no longer ignore the facts. The roles of our iconic American superheroes—heroes so great that they transcend the realm of comic books and enter the American subconscious—are just being given away. Let’s explore a few possible reasons.
- Superheroes are international
Some might say that Superman is the ultimate alien; a man from another world who crashed on our planet and learned to fit in. He is a character who is relatable to not only Americans, but all people. Spider-Man, the story of a young nerd who gains super powers and has the ability to save a city and get the girl—how is that not a universal story? There are definitely just as many nerds in England as there are in America. The point is that these characters may have been created by American minds but they definitely possess a very human message.
2. Foreigners just do it better
It’s the same reason that McDonald’s toys are all made in China. Americans just don’t know how to work anymore. Foreign cars, foreign foods—we can’t even answer our own phones anymore (anyone called a tech help line lately?). We’ve outsourced everything else in this country so why not superheroes? When it comes to acting, many people would argue that American actors aren’t as amazing as they once were. Apparently American accents are the easiest to mimic. Unfortunately, this exchange of iconic roles doesn’t seem to go both ways. Otherwise, I know a very excited young man who would have loved to play Harry Potter. In the end, these unknown and well-trained, foreign actors are just working harder and better to get the roles.
Americans have become feminized. Gone are the days of Paul Newman and Marlon Brando. We have entered a time of black eye-liner and skinny jeans. Is that who you really want to play Wolverine? It’s no wonder they gave the role to an Australian (Hugh Jackman). In fact, Australia has been putting American manliness to shame. Even Thor has been played by an Australian (Chris Hemsworth). True, Thor is actually a Norse God but it’s still an American comic. Maybe these guys are just raised on kangaroo meat in the outback but it’s pretty evident that us Americans need to stop painting our nails and do some freaking sit-ups. John Wayne would be ashamed of us.
4. American actors are too recognizable
Imagine for a moment seeing Ross Geller, from Friends, portraying Superman. Now take a moment to wipe that image from your mind and maybe wash your mouth out. American audiences can’t be tricked anymore. All of our actors have become too pigeon-holed into unique roles that it would destroy the entire appeal of the character if you were watching a movie like X-Men and kept saying things like, “isn’t that the guy from House,” and “hey look, it’s the girl from Gilmore Girls.”
Maybe there is no reason to all of this. Maybe the whole thing is just one big coincidence. The bottom line is that American actors are going to have to learn to share the silver screen because whether these characters are played by Americans or foreigners—all of them seem to be living up to the ‘super’ in their title.