They say that movie actors are constantly unemployed, and it’s easy to see where this logic comes from.
Even if you’re working on an enormous big budget movie, you’ll do some pretending in front of a camera for a few weeks, get handed a single paycheck, then get booted out onto the street.
If you want more work, you’re going to have to start all over again right from the start. Hey, if you wanted more job security, you should have stuck to television.
Now, though, tentpole franchises are in vogue, and that means that actors like Jeremy Renner, who, let’s face it, would probably struggle to find work under different circumstances, a given cushy long-term deals to make a bunch of movies, often in the same year.
With Marvel cranking out an increasing number of team-up superhero blockbusters, the studio is making sure that their actors constantly have work to fall back on.
Mind you, not everybody is happy about this. Certain non-Marvel directors who want to hire their actors find the constant superhero movie pressure to be more than a little annoying.
At least, that’s what Arrival director Shawn Levy thinks. Having hired good old Jeremy Renner for his science fiction movie (presumably he hadn’t seen The Bourne Legacy), Levy found that actually pinning down Renner for any shooting was a pretty big challenge with Marvel constantly monopolizing the actor’s time.
According to Levy this isn’t just a problem for forgettable faces like Renner:
“There’s an entire generation of actors who’re basically busy year-round on various Marvel pictures. Every single thing I direct or produce, we have to balance around commitments to Marvel – it’s just unbelievable how ubiquitous those movies are, and they have really made for tricky scheduling with what is now well over a dozen different actors.”
It’s not hard to see Levy’s point. With Infinity War looming on the horizon, Marvel is set to add yet another big project onto the schedules of a lot of talented actors who might otherwise be doing other things.
There are plenty of Marvel movie stars, like Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, and presumably some other stars who are named something other than Chris, who got their first significant big break working on a Marvel movie.
Chris Pratt was whipped into shape (almost literally) by James Gunn, and went from being chubby comic relief to one of the most desirable action stars of the past few years.
On the other hand, as Marvel has expanded, it’s nabbed itself plenty of existing big name actors who might otherwise be working on other projects.
Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Oscar winner Brie Larson, all had noteworthy careers long before Marvel got their hands on them, and now they’re tied into longrunning contracts that’ll keep them busy over the next decade or so.
Essentially, a lot of Marvel actors are off-limits for movie directors who might want to use them in their films. If scheduling Jeremy Renner is difficult, imagine how hard it must be to nab an actual star like Robert Downey Jr for your movie.
This isn’t just a problem for directors like Shawn Levy, it’s a challenge for actors themselves, who might have to turn down appetizing other roles because of Marvel commitments. Idris Elba, for example, has expressed his dissatisfaction with being stuck dressed in a silly costume on a green screen, when he could be chasing after an Oscar.
It’s also a loss for moviegoers. As much fun as it might be to see Scarlett Johansson stuck perpetually in a sidekick role in the MCU, it’s hard not to wonder what she’d achieve as a leading lady in a movie that’s even marginally more watchable than Lucy.
For actors looking to sign up to MCU roles, Marvel represents a play-it-safe option for work. You can guarantee you’ll still be a household name for years to come, but you won’t be doing anything particularly challenging or genre-defining.
At this point, Jeremy Renner’s probably just grateful for the work.
He’s aware the moment Hawkeye does bite the big one in the MCU, he’ll probably never work in movies again.