It’s safe to say us Brits are star struck by everything Hollywood. From the crisp white smiles, ripped bodies and rugged good looks, we have been Hollywoodised – but in the worst possible ways.
The American film industry is a booming business, with the global box office revenue forecast to increase from 38 billion dollars in 2016 to 50 billion dollars by 2020. One of the biggest films set to contribute to that growth is the release of the final Wolverine film, Logan, hitting the UK cinema screens this month. The concluding film of the trilogy, staring the hunky Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, sees the character battle with losing his powers and trying to stop a villain from destroying the world; it has all the ingredients for a wishy-washy Marvel film, but that isn’t why I’m in no rush to buy my cinema ticket.
The casting of Hugh Jackson to portray Logan (Wolverine) throughout the trilogy has been unfitting with the original character brought to life in the first 1974 Marvel comic book. The short, stocky, loner of a character with more body hair than skin on show seems to have been replaced by a 6’2” charismatic stud with abs you could grate cheese on and facial hair only the finest beard trimmer could style. There you have it – a superhero franchise that intended to captivate the world but instead cripples a generation, forced to see itself as unworthy in comparison.
Sadly, this isn’t the first Hollywood film to look past a description of a character that doesn’t fit society’s definition of conventional beauty, only to replace them with a bouncier, Hollywoodised version; I doubt it will be the last.
It can be seen in Lone Scherfig’s decision to cast Anne Hathaway as Emma Morley in One Day (2011), she is too beautiful, slim and put together for the role – a contradiction to the description of Emma in the book. Chloe Grace Mortez plays Carrie in the 2013 Stephen King adaptation and is bullied in the film for her ugly appearance and ultimately for being different; when in Hollywood she’s considered to be a beautiful, modelesque, fresh-faced actress. What is that saying to young girls who have not been blessed with chiselled cheekbones and naturally big pout like Mortez? And then there’s Leo. Heartthrob Leonardo Dicaprio plays Richard in The Beach (2000), who is originally portrayed in Alex Garland’s book as being unlucky in love, and is dissatisfied with his looks; Leo, of course, has no such trouble.
However, do we only have ourselves to blame for this mismatch? We have been showing Hollywood what we want by paying for the films we want to see. We, the British public, have unknowingly been feeding the beast that is Hollywood with our torn cinema tickets; and directors are supplying the films that are in demand, fulfilling our unconscious desire to coo over their unsuitable but beautiful protagonists.
God forbid we stare at an ugly face or dad bod for two hours on a large cinema screen; our eyes could burn out of their sockets.
From pretty to pretty ugly, there is a place for less attractive actors and actresses in todays Hollywoodised film industry. In these circumstances, they become known for more than just their level of beauty, but their powerful skill set. Rowan Atkinson, otherwise known as Mr. Bean, can encapsulate an audience with his expression alone. His performance in Johnny English (2003) and Johnny English Reborn (2011) not only highlights his impeccable comedic ability but the juxtaposition of his uglier appearance infused with the attempt to be a sexy James bond-esque spy, really brings the parody aspect of the film and the character to life. The same can be said for actors like Mike Myers in Austin Powers (2002), or Seth Rogen in This Is The End (2013). Their unattractive, awkward features allow their quick wit and humour to be the driving force for the success of their films.
Despite the success of films with ugly actors – undeniably more suited to their role – the film industry still continues to shove beautiful people in our faces, the effects of which can be seen in a study from the Body Image Journal in 2016. It showed that out of 12,000 British people, 72% of men and 74% of women considered themselves to be extremely unsatisfied with their bodies.
A study by 2011 by JAMA Paediatrics show that after the release of the ‘300’ movie series, starring the beefy, ripped gladiator, Gerard Butler, 20% of boys were concerned with their weight, worried about thinness and concerned with gaining more muscle.
The industry has become obsessed with feeding off society’s insecurities to obtain a better physique, better skin, hair, and for men – a beard rugged enough to brace Hugh Jackman’s flawlessly angry face.
Jackman fails to fulfil the image of Wolverine, created by comic book writer Chris Claremont. Had the director, James Mangold taken on board the creators vision for the character, the results may have been considered authentic. The ‘vision’ was intended for a young looking Bob Hoskins, a more fitting profile for the role. Short, hairy, intense and shamelessly embracing his plumper physique, maybe if somebody like Hoskins had taken on the character, young people would be in awe of Wolverine’s badass blades for claws and super powers instead of his dishy appearance.
The British public are not stupid. Directors should keep in mind that a handsome face cannot disguise a shoddy performance. Even though Hollywood has every reason to be casting attractive protagonists when they rake in so much money for doing so, the importance of veracity and authenticity shouldn’t be forgotten in the process. Casting an uglier, truer representation of a character enables the audience to connect with a film in a more profound way. Fans should be leaving the cinema after seeing a Marvel film wanting to take on the world, not leaving with a newfound sense of self-loathing. That’s not so beautiful, Hollywood.