Does Ryan Gosling Have to Star in a Superhero Movie?

By  · Published on October 20th, 2014


As the search for an actor to play Marvel’s Doctor Strange rages on, a new name has been added to the mix of possible contenders (read: “actors who have name recognition and even a passing interest in being in a superhero franchise”), with Ryan Gosling joining a list that also reportedly includes Jared Leto, Justin Theroux, Keanu Reeves and Ethan Hawke. THR reports that Gosling has at least met with the Marvel team to talk about the feature, which sounds like a nice way to pass an afternoon.

This news comes on the heels of yet another big, Gosling-centric superhero rumor: that he could also star in DC’s upcoming Suicide Squad feature. THR shares that Gosling is “being courted to star” in that film, with other names like Will Smith and Margot Robbie also mentioned for possible parts. It now seems unavoidable: Ryan Gosling will probably end up starring in a superhero film. But does he need to?

As IGN reminds us, “Gosling has been eyed for big genre projects before, namely Green Lantern, but didn’t care to sign a contract that called for sequels. Obviously, that’s a major consideration for any actor in possibly joining the MCU.” Yet, the same THR story that shares the news about Gosling’s apparent interest in both Doctor Strange and Suicide Squad notes that “the actor has in the past resisted joining superhero-style tentpole movies, especially those that would require him to appear in sequels. But now there are signs that Gosling might be softening his stance.”

Gosling has long occupied a strange Hollywood middle ground – here is a guy who is a tabloid regular (thanks to his various romantic relationships, though it seems fairly obvious that Gosling, as a human being, is not the sort of guy who is interested in being part of the buzzed-about US Weekly crowd) who mainly makes smaller films with off-beat and indie trappings (he’s Nicolas Winding Refn’s main dude, for one; he starred in a sensitive romance about a guy who falls in love with a Real Girl doll, for another) and who has consistently drawn the attention of the awards-giving cadre. Gosling has been nominated for a single Oscar (for Half Nelson) and four Golden Globes (he was even nominated for Best Actor in a Motion Picture in both the Comedy/Musical and Drama sections in the very same year, thanks to The Ides of March and Crazy, Stupid, Love.), and though he’s yet to snag one of those, it seems like a safe bet that the actor will eventually take home some kind of major acting award. He is, after all, only 33.

But for all his name (and “hey, girl” meme) recognition, Gosling has only toplined about twenty films, with a generous dash of television work thrown into his early years (what’s up, Breaker High). Financially speaking, Gosling’s most profitable film, Remember the Titans, didn’t even include him in a starring role (the highest-earning Gosling-starrer – at least in the domestic realm – is Crazy, Stupid, Love., which didn’t even crack the $100m mark at the American box office). Still, Gosling doesn’t scan as the kind of guy driven by quantity, either as it relates to actual box office take or a bloated resume.

A superhero franchise would surely change that.

The superhero movie landscape is massive these days, so sprawling that it seems likely that we’ll soon start seeing unexpected stars taking on heroic roles, lest we have to start doubling up on heroes again (hi, there, Chris Evans). Joaquin Phoenix would have been a big departure had he signed on for Doctor Strange and, if we can remember way back to a time when the Marvel Cinematic Universe wasn’t the biggest thing going, someone like Robert Downey Jr. wasn’t exactly the obvious choice for Iron Man. There’s room for weirdness in the superhero world, which could account for the apparent draw the Gosling is feeling towards the genre right now (again, if these reports are to be believed).

Gosling’s resume is a formidable one, but his output has slowed down over the last few years. As of now, he’s slated to appear in a single film in 2015 (the next Terrence Malick) and just one in 2016 (The Nice Guys). Gosling didn’t star in any film this year. His star power might not be on the decline just yet, but if he keeps up with this kind of schedule, we’re certainly not going to get as much Gosling as we’d like to see on the big screen. A superhero franchise – and, let’s note here, it would be wholesale nuttiness for Gosling to take on both Doctor Strange and Suicide Squad — could get Gosling back into the public eye while still allowing him to pursue smaller passion projects (see: Evans and Snowpiercer or Downey and The Judge).

Being a superhero star has changed dramatically over the last few years – the world of Green Lantern is a fair bit different than the current environment – and if Ryan Gosling wants to join up, now is the time. Perhaps he can star in the Green Lantern reboot if these other projects don’t pan out.