Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Most Poorly Acted Scenes In The MCU

Surrealist painter Salvador Dali is often quoted as saying, "Have no fear of perfection—you'll never reach it." Apparently, Dali never got to see Big Trouble in Little China, but otherwise he's not wrong. Nothing's perfect, including the films of Marvel Studios.

Marvel is fantastic at what it does. Opinions differ on quality, but the numbers don't lie. Sure, not every Marvel film lights the world on fire as much as Black Panther or Avengers: Infinity War. Marvel has its underperforming children like Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2. But out of twenty films released in a decade, nothing Marvel has put out could be rightly called a bomb.

One of the reasons for the studio's success is its recruitment of top talent. Ever since Iron Man revitalized the career of Robert Downey Jr., the Marvel universe has become filled with stars you wouldn't have previously imagined would go near a superhero flick. Marvel's commitment to getting the best of the best remains so consistent that they've turned expectations upside-down. Audiences have gone from being surprised at certain actors agreeing to do superhero movies to looking at actors who haven't signed on yet and wondering what they're waiting for.

Still, like Dali said, even the best Marvel films aren't perfect, and every now and then a badly acted scene puts a dent in the armor. If you don't believe us, just take a look the most poorly acted scenes in the MCU.

Dude, pay attention to what you're doing

One of the signature touches Mickey Rourke added to villain Ivan Vanko in Iron Man 2 was the ever-present toothpick. Whether he's killing security goons or just hanging out in a prison cell, he always seems to have a toothpick turning over in his mouth. It's there right from the beginning of the movie, during the montage that shows him building the suit he'll use against Iron Man. This moment is meant to be a dark reflection of the creation of the original Iron Man armor in the first film, but Rourke just can't get around that toothpick.

We're supposed to believe Vanko possesses a genius that could rival Stark's, and that's already a little difficult. He's built like a wall, covered in tattoos, and, you know, he's Mickey Rourke. We're not used to seeing him play science prodigies. The toothpick takes an already challenging task and makes it impossible. 

During the montage, Rourke shapes a metal bar with a hammer. Remember how focused Downey was in Iron Man when he started with the hammer? How his eyes were filled with determination? During Vanko's matching montage, Rourke looks like he's barely awake. He actually appears to be slowing his hammer to accommodate his toothpick. Seriously. Look at it. The dude is working harder on chewing the toothpick than he is on hammering the piece of metal that will supposedly help him avenge his father's death. Time to prioritize, Mickey.

So, this is awkward

The scene that introduced Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage as Eitri the Dwarf was a strange moment in the theater. Up to that point in the film, Avengers: Infinity War had already proven itself the darkest and most violent of the MCU flicks. We had witnessed the killing off of two major characters in the opening moments, while the fates of many others hung in the balance. The introduction of Eitri was supposed to be another dark moment, as he reveals that Thanos slaughtered all of the forge's other dwarves and took his hands. Even after he realizes the arriving heroes aren't servants of Thanos, he accuses Thor of negligence for not protecting Nidavellir in the first place. There is nothing about the scene that is supposed to be funny.

But audiences laughed. A lot. Arguably, you can't blame Dinklage's acting for that. People were surprised to see the guy they know best as Tyrion Lannister (a character known for, among other things, his black humor), and they were surprised to see him over twice the size of anyone else in the scene. The fact that he was in the middle of recalling the horrific deaths of everyone he'd ever known and loved couldn't stop the chuckles.

One thing you can put at Dinklage's doorstep is that fake deep, gravelly voice. It didn't come off quite as contrived as Christian Bale's extra-silly Batman voice in The Dark Knight, but it came close.

Wow, he's prepared

In 2008's Incredible Hulk, after Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) is discovered in Brazil and forced to transform into the Hulk, Banner wakes up in a jungle. He soon learns that the Hulk has brought him as far north as Guatemala. The man who tells Banner where he is and gives him a ride out of the jungle is possibly the single worst actor in the history of the MCU.

When Banner asks him for a ride, the man—credited simply as "Guatemalan Trucker"—appears to have been waiting all day for an almost-naked person to wander up to his truck and ask for a ride. Without any hesitation, without a single question (like, for instance, "Why are you wearing nothing but the pants of a giant?"), the dude tells Banner to get in. The trucker grabs the neatly-folded blanket he has ready. Apparently, this has happened before. Naked, cold people (maybe Silver Surfer landed there once?) just drop out of the sky in Guatemala and hitch rides. You gotta be prepared. He puts the blanket on Banner's shoulders—still completely unconcerned about the strange naked man who, by the way, did not know what country he was in—and drives away unfazed.

We can't be too harsh with the guy. The Guatemalan Trucker was played by Javier Lambert, and acting is not exactly his first calling. Lambert was the stunt coordinator for Incredible Hulk and has been doing stunt work in TV and films since 1989's License to Kill.

Funny, but don't wait for your Oscar

Thor: Ragnarok was a hit and a big reason for its success was that it was, if nothing else, a whole lot funnier than the other Thor installments. While overall the film's humor was a good thing, there were some moments that felt contrived for the sake of laughs.

Case in point: the conversation between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) shortly after Banner first un-Hulks. It starts with Banner coming close to Hulking out again from the twin shocks of learning he hasn't been in his own body for two years and that he has awakened on an alien planet. We even hear his voice briefly deepen and see a flash of green veins in his neck before Thor manages to calm him down. 

Next thing you know, as Thor reveals he wants the Hulk's help to save Asgard from Hela, Banner seems like he's been let down by a high school crush, whining that Thor likes the Hulk more than he likes Banner. That terrible realization that he hasn't been in control of his actions for two years, or that he's awakened on a planet with talking insects and giant rock men? Completely forgotten. It's funny, sure, but if your biggest concern upon finding yourself in another part of the galaxy around potentially hostile aliens is that your co-worker likes your big brother better than you, you clearly worry about the wrong things.

Oh, right, we kiss now

Captain America: Civil War had a lot to do. The movie not only had to rake in almost all of the super-people of the MCU, it had to introduce Black Panther and Spider-Man. It's no surprise, then, that there wasn't a lot of time left for romance. Nevertheless, we got a clumsy attempt to fit in the compulsory smooches that not only felt tacked on, but honestly? It kind of felt like payment.

When Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) kiss, Sharon is meeting her hunk to hand off the equipment that had been confiscated from him and his fellow Avengers. When Sharon gives Steve that steamy look and he responds, they're trying to communicate a lot without words, but the result is awkward. Even setting aside the creepiness of a guy getting involved with a former love interest's niece, Rogers almost appears to be doing it out of obligation. Just before he moves in for the kiss, he gives her this look like, "Oh right, I forgot," as if he tried to leave a cab without paying his fare or something. And in turn, Sharon's look seems to say, "Dude, I brought you all this stuff and you're not going to give me any sugar?" 

Not that you can't find love while transferring weapons out of the trunk of a car under a bridge so you can participate in a destructive airport battle, but...no, actually, that is true. You can't find love that way. You cannot.

You don't even like your dad, do you?

One of Tony Stark's big turning points comes when he hears news about his old captors terrorizing people in the fictional city of Gulmira, the hometown of Yinsen (Shaun Toub), the scientist who tragically died helping Stark escape the Ten Rings. For the first time, Stark dons his red-and-gold armor in order to kick some bad guy butt.

Cut to Gulmira, where Abu Bakkar (Sayed Badreya)—the second-in-command of the Ten Rings who assured Stark he would be released once he did as he was asked—is splitting up civilian families, presumably for execution, slavery, or worse. Bakkar orders men to be split from women and children, and just before Iron Man's heroic arrival, we focus on one family in particular. A little boy breaks off from the crowd of civilians being herded onto trucks and rushes to his father.

It's supposed to be an emotionally powerful moment, but it ends up distracting because the dad and the son just aren't very believable. In a film that was known for such spectacular acting, it's a completely forgivable dark spot that's nevertheless impossible to ignore. When Iron Man does his superhero one-knee landing, you're glad that not only will the good guys be saved, but that the focus will shift off this annoying little kid.

Pizza is Bruce Banner's duct tape

The Incredible Hulk was produced alongside Iron Man and shared the burden of launching the MCU. It's understandable, then, that some trademarks of the franchise are, at this point, a little...off. For instance, the in-jokes and Easter eggs are a bit more clumsy and heavy-handed than in other entries.

A good example is Lou Ferrigno's cameo. The legendary bodybuilder who played the green beast in the live-action Incredible Hulk TV show plays a college security guard in the film. Working as a pizza delivery guy, Bruce Banner is able to get past Ferrigno by bribing him with a pizza. It isn't a long scene, but it feels about five minutes longer than it should. And the notion that Banner can get anywhere he wants with pizza becomes a thing. Moments later, he's likewise bribed a student (Martin Starr) with pizza to let him use the computer lab.

Incredible Hulk director Louis Leterrier is European, and you have to wonder if he truly believes that Americans will literally do anything for a pizza. Maybe if Leterrier had directed other Marvel movies, they would've ended much differently. The heist at the end of Ant-Man would've needed only a truck full of pizza. The Winter Soldier could have been deprogrammed with an extra-large meat-lover's. When General Ross plopped the Sokovia Accords on the Avengers' conference table in Captain America: Civil War, Steve Rogers could've slid a pizza right back at him with a wink and everything would've been fine.

C'mon, Loki, just kill them already

One of the most awkward and groan-worthy moments in Thor comes after the Destroyer has beaten up all the non-Thor heroes. Thor is helping them get away and he convinces everybody that he has a plan to fix everything. They start running away, just like Thor told them to do, until Jane (Natalie Portman) inexplicably stops and everyone else does too. They stand there so that they can be the awestruck witnesses to this contrived sacrificial moment. A lot of it, admittedly, can't be blamed solely on the actors—this is just how the scene was written and staged.

Director Kenneth Branagh's extensive Shakespeare experience both helped and hurt the making of Thor. It helped Branagh forge what has remained a wonderful dynamic between Thor and Loki. From that first moment when Loki steps up to whisper bad ideas in his brother's ear, Loki feels every bit like Othello's villainous Iago (who Branagh played opposite Laurence Fishburne in 1995). But one of the problems with his more stage-inspired approach is how many scenes feature nothing but the lead character talking while everyone else in the scene looks up at him, glowing with blind admiration for every dumb thing that falls out of his face. During the battle with the Destroyer in Thor, the Warriors Three and Sif do exactly that.

Shut up, Happy

Iron Man 3 was the first film in the series to not have Jon Favreau as director. He remained on board as an actor, reprising the role of Happy Hogan, who becomes head of security in this third entry. It's at this point that he also becomes one of the most annoying characters in the film. When it comes to the most nails-on-chalkboard annoying moment of the MCU, there's not much that competes with Happy Hogan stomping around Stark Industries, tapping his badge and chirping, "Badge! Badge! Badge! Hello? Badge!" 

We learn that ever since becoming head of security, Happy's let his control freak side take over. Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) tells us about some of the ways Happy's been making the lives of her employees difficult, but we get to see for ourselves how nuts it makes him when someone's in the building without a security badge. At first, we don't know why he's tapping his badge and chirping at people. He's just hitting the thing and making noises like he's having some kind of attack. Of course, his paranoia could be seen as justified by the terrorist attack that leaves him in the hospital (and thankfully silent) for most of the film.

Shut up, Guardians

Bringing the Guardians of the Galaxy together with the Avengers was an idea that was always equal parts tantalizing and concerning—tantalizing because bringing all the heroes of the MCU together would be utterly awesome, and concerning because it would necessarily mean that a director other than James Gunn—who wrote and directed both Guardians flicks—would be in charge of the characters. Sure, the MCU has plenty of other amazing directorial talent, but there is something specifically "Gunn" about the Guardians' vibe. That blend of humor, drama, and action is particular to his style, and the notion of giving another director the reins feels not unlike recasting the entire team. It just won't feel the same.  

Avengers: Infinity War served as proof that taking the Gunn out of the Guardians can feel jarring. From the very first scene with the team, when Quill and Gamora are lip-syncing to "The Rubberband Man" by the Spinners, it just feels off. There's something particularly obnoxious—and not the usual endearingly obnoxious stuff we're used to from Star-Lord—about Chris Pratt lip-syncing along and making his mouth so huge Steven Tyler would be jealous. It feels like someone trying to impersonate a Guardians movie and doing about as good a job as they can without quite getting there. While the trademark Guardians humor is present, a lot of it feels forced, like when Drax becomes convinced no one on the ship can see him.