Movie franchises that were saved by an actor

Sometimes a movie franchise can outstay its welcome. It starts off okay, people mostly enjoy it, but as time goes on it gets stale and terrible like that bagel no one ever eats in the office break room. But fear not: just as using a toaster and cream cheese on the bagel can bring it a new life, stale film franchises can likewise be saved with the simple addition of something new and invigorating!

Jason Segel - The Muppets

The Muppets franchise was pretty much dead in the water before Jason Segel's labor of love, which resurrected the felt-lined wisecrackers back in 2011. The previous film and the first since the death of Muppets creator Jim Henson to have an original story was 1999's Muppets in Space, a film that not even Gonzo enjoyed. Muppets in Space didn't even earn its budget back, and was generally little more than a shrug critically. It was Segel who breathed new life into the franchise in 2011 by writing a screenplay at once paying homage to the retro feel of the Muppets while updating it enough with fresh humor and characterizations that new audiences wouldn't feel disinterested. The result was a huge success for Disney, the Muppets, and Segel—both critically and at the box office.

Ryan Reynolds - Deadpool

Ryan Reynolds has the bizarre distinction of being behind the only two cinematic versions of the character Deadpool to date, and having to use the second one to make up for the first. First appearing in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Reynolds portrayed Deadpool as a character who inexplicably had no mouth. Not Reynold's fault, that was a creative decision from someone who clearly had never read a Deadpool comic cook, but it certainly left fans scratching their head since Deadpool's stock and trade is his smart mouth. A Deadpool that can't speak is like a Wolverine with no claws. Now that Deadpool's in his own movie, the teasers, trailers and assorted appearances by Reynolds have satisfied even the most skeptical of fans that Reynolds is absolutely killing the role. It may be one of the first times in film history a character has been so thoroughly redeemed even before the final film was released.

Vin Diesel - Fast and Furious

The Fast and the Furious hit big in 2001 with a plot that was pretty much a wholesale ripoff of the Patrick Swayze movie Point Break—except with cool cars and Vin Diesel. Despite that shaky pedigree, the movie performed surprisingly well and earned itself a sequel, which did pretty well, too. The next film, Tokyo Drift, replaced nearly the entire cast and focused not on cool heists but underground racing and the fans barely cared. Tokyo Drift ended up being the lowest grossing film of the franchise. However, at the very end, a surprise cameo by Vin Diesel did manage to excite everyone. It was Vin Diesel! He's awesome—ask Groot! The next movie, Fast and Furious, brought back Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and more from the original film and became the highest grossing entry of the franchise with over $363 million, proving the key to making Fast and Furious movies work is less fastness and furiousness and more Vin Dieselness.

The Rock - Fast and Furious

Yes, we just said Vin Diesel saved the Fast and Furious franchise, but there's something to be said for the addition of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to the franchise as well. The Rock joined up for the fifth installment, Fast Five, making that particular film the new big money maker when it pulled in $626 million. Fast 6 went on to make $788 million and Fast 7 made a stunning $1.5 billion worldwide, proving the Rock and Vin Diesel combo is damn near unbeatable.

Daniel Craig - James Bond

The 007 franchise has been in continuous production since 1962 and has made over $6 billion across 24 films to date. It's safe to say the franchise is pretty reliable and popular. But it hasn't always been so. Through the 1980s and '90s the franchise began to falter. License to Kill in 1989 bombed hard and put an end to the franchise for six years thanks in part to legal issues, and in part to a lack of interest in Timothy Dalton in the lead role. When it returned in 1995 with Pierce Brosnan as Bond for four films, the series was financially successful, but critically unremarkable. That was until 2006 when Daniel Craig finally gave Bond fans a dark, realistic 007 who didn't have goofy gadgets or outlandish, cartoon villains. He was just a badass spy who knew how to throw down, and fans and critics alike loved it.

Mark Ruffalo - Hulk

The Hulk has a strange place in Marvel's Cinematic Universe. While Iron Man, Captain America and Thor all had solid showings in solo films, the Hulk had two bites at the apple that just never quite took, once with Eric Bana and once with Ed Norton. Both times the movies couldn't find their groove and left audiences less than impressed. If it wasn't for Tony Stark's cameo at the end of the second film, you would have suspected the character was about to be dropped entirely due to lack of interest. The Hulk was given a third shot in 2012's The Avengers, this time with Mark Ruffalo as the doctor you wouldn't like when he's very angry, and the character was the standout hit of the film. When he reprised the role in Age of Ultron, his storyline with Black Widow was one of the best parts of the movie, proving you can include a massive, green special effect as part of an ensemble cast and have it stand out as the most human.