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Thoughts on Ethan Hawke’s Change of Opinion About Superhero Movies

August 16, 2021 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Ethan Hawke Moon Knight

Before we begin, people have the right to change their opinion on something. It happens everyday. For actors, it’s a little different because their opinions are usually recorded and can come back at any time. 

That’s where we are with Ethan Hawke but it opens the door for some nice discussion.

While we don’t know many details about Hawke’s role in Moon Knight, the upcoming Marvel series on Disney+, he recently revealed that he’s basing the character on cult leader David Koresh.

Hawke shared the news when he appeared on Late Night on Thursday with host Seth Meyers. “I’ve based my character on David Koresh!” replied Hawke. “I guess it’s working. You’re good, Seth. Or maybe I’m not out of character yet.” This was in response to Meyers saying the actor appeared to look like the cult leader. 

When talking about the role, Hawke explained how he was first cast. “I heard about it from [series star] Oscar Isaac, who lives three blocks down the street from me in Brooklyn,” Hawke explained. “I was at a coffee shop and he came up to me and was like, ‘I really liked The Good Lord Bird. Want to be in the Moon Knight with me?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah.’ So it happened the right way.”

Only in the movie industry.

If you’ve been following along, this comes after a number of interviews Hawke has given about his reputation as a “pretentious artist type” and the general opinion of superhero movies. “It’s a bigger burden and so I think studios like Marvel and places like that, they wanna really make sure that somebody’s gonna play ball,” Hawke shared with the Happy Sad Confused podcast earlier this year. “If you have a reputation as a pretentious artist type, it doesn’t work in your favor.”

“I am totally open to doing something like that, [but] there’s a problem that comes along whenever Marvel’s gonna approach Joaquin [Phoenix] or me or anybody who’s in love with acting, because there’s a tremendous amount of salesmanship that is now really important to a studio like that,” Hawke said. “It’s a tremendous amount of time of your life where you’re working and you’re not acting.”

Go back to 2018 and Hawke’s views on comic book movies was clear in thinking they were in a category of their own. “Now we have the problem that they tell us Logan is a great movie. Well, it’s a great superhero movie,” Hawke shared with The Film Stage. “It still involves people in tights with metal coming out of their hands. It’s not [Robert] Bresson. It’s not [Ingmar] Bergman. But they talk about it like it is.”

He added, “I went to see Logan cause everyone was like, ‘This is a great movie’ and I was like, ‘Really? No, this is a fine superhero movie.’ There’s a difference but big business doesn’t think there’s a difference. Big business wants you to think that this is a great film because they wanna make money off of it.”

From Stephen Dorff to Martin Scorcese, comic book movies seem to be acceptable to a point for a small percentage of Hollywood. 

When James Mangold’s Logan was released it drew rave reviews from fans and critics. Hugh Jackman putting on the claws one last time to portray an aging Wolverine in a R-rated movie that was both grim and more adult than the usual superhero offerings.

Logan’s screenplay received both an Oscar nomination and a Writers Guild of America nomination, drawing a few puzzled looks from movie purists.

Going back to his original comments, did Hawke have a point? Can a superhero movie be a great movie overall or is it bound to be tagged and weighed down by its subject matters reputation? That seems to be the debate in Hollywood every so often as an actor or director will come out with their opinion, pro or con, on the matter.

What do you think?