As 2015 comes to a close, I decided to take a look back on the excellent performances within the Marvel Cinematic Universe this year and highlight the ten best performances. You can read them below (in no particular order)!
Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones (Jessica Jones):
When it came to casting Jessica Jones, it was vital that they found the right actress to not only capture Jessica’s PTSD, but also her take-no-shit attitude. Ritter managed to do just that. She displayed a sense of vulnerability and strength inside of the character that I don’t think another actress would have been able to do as well. Over the course of thirteen episodes, Ritter proved that she was meant to play this character.
Best scene: The moment when she tells Trish that she loves her. Sure, it’s a code word for the two of them, to showcase that Jess isn’t under Kilgrave’s control. But in that moment, you know it’s the truth. There’s the perfect mixture of sincerity and rage on display as Jessica finally does the one thing she’s been so eager to do – put Kilgrave behind her.
Iain De Caestecker as Leo Fitz (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.):
Although Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t get the amount of love that it deserves, it’s hard to deny some of the best performances form the Marvel Cinematic Universe took place on the show – most of which came courtesy of Leo Fitz himself, Iain De Caestecker. While Iain did a fantastic job of portraying someone dealing with a disability last season, he has really upped his game going into season three. The scene in which he hits the monolith, screaming for it to open out of pure desperation, is a absolute fanfuckingtastic bit of acting.
Best scene: The scene above. It’s a gut-wrenching performance by De Caestecker.
Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil (Daredevil):
When Charlie Cox was announced as being cast as Matt Murdock/Daredevil the response from fans was rather mixed. While most people wondered who the heck Cox was, a good amount of fans were frustrated that he was nothing like Murdock physically. But once fans saw Cox in action? It was easy to see why he’d landed the role. Cox quickly proved just how talented he was as he managed to ease into the role, capturing Matt’s vulnerability and recklessness with seemingly little to no effort.
Best scene: Again, not exactly a scene, but an entire episode. In the seventh episode of the first season, titled “Stick”, we see Stick make a reappearance in Matt’s life and we see the two come to blows. Cox’s acting against someone of Scott Glenn‘s talent is beyond enjoyable. As good as he is all season long, it’s in this episode that he really shines.
Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin (Daredevil):
It’s hard not to like D’Onofrio in anything he does – the man is a downright fantastic actor – but his work as Wilson Fisk is admittedly some of his best work to date. Sure, a lot of that is because of the writing. But writing a character that makes you question morality? It takes a skilled actor to pull it off, and D’Onofrio manages to do just that in Daredevil. His portrayal as Wilson Fisk puts most of the film villains to shame. He excels at showcasing the humanity behind the monster, while also knowing how to ease into that terror mindset.
Best scene: The scene above. It does a great job showcasing D’Onofrio’s ability to easily switch between the calm, boyish parts of himself and the terrifying monster that is buried beneath.
Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.):
Much like with Iain De Caestecker, Henstridge has proven herself time and time again as one of the strongest actors within the MCU, and her portrayal as Jemma Simmons in the bottle episode “4,722 Hours” was nothing short of perfection. It isn’t easy to pull off a bottle episode like “4,722 Hours”, especially when it’s meant to take place on a foreign planet, but with a mixture of great writing and Henstridge’s skilled performance? The episode manages to claim a spot as one of the best hours of television. (In fact, I’d rate it right up there with Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s “Hush” episode.) My hope is that, as the show continues, Henstridge is given more screen-time/more pivotal story-lines, because she (along with De Caestecker) are Marvel’s secret weapons on the small screen and right now, they’re not being utilized enough.
Best scene: Not so much a scene as an entire episode. “4,722 Hours” is a showcase of Henstridge’s talents. Every single second she spends on screen is captivating.
David Tennant as Kilgrave (Jessica Jones):
Yet another television villain on this list. Perhaps its the ability to grow the characters over the course of thirteen episodes, or the fact that they’re allowed to explore more adult themes, but when it comes to the villains within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Netflix universe is outperforming the films. David Tennant‘s portrayal as the villainous Kilgrave is the perfect example of that. Kilgrave, aka the Purple Man, could have come across as outlandish and over-the-top, but Tennant skillfully knew just when to rein it in. He’s terrifying, arrogant, and yet childlike all at once. His portrayal as Kilgrave is easily the best villain performance within the MCU to date.
Best scene: The scene at the police station, when Kilgrave has control over the officers as he tries to profess his “undying love” for Jessica. Tennant steals the scene the moment he walks in.
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Ant-Man):
Ant-Man was a movie that had plenty of issues going into production. Thankfully, the film managed to overcome a majority of its obstacles and deliver another exciting installment within the MCU. Most of that was due to star Paul Rudd‘s performance as Scott Lang, the ex-con who just wants to be there for his daughter. Sure, he nails the comedy bits – as expected – but it’s those other moments, where he showcases Scott’s failures and frustrations, that he truly shines.
Best scene: It’s such a short scene, but the scene when Scott arrives at Cassie’s birthday party and is greeted by Cassie and her step-father is one of the best scenes of the film. Rudd, who is known primarily for his comedic work, showcases his eagerness to be there for Cassie and the heartache over knowing how much he screwed up with such ease in that scene. It may be short, but it’s one of the best scenes of the movie.
Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter (Agent Carter):
Atwell has quickly become the connective tissue of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, having appeared in not just the Captain America films, but also Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but it wasn’t until she was given the chance to headline her own series that she truly had a chance to shine. She’s electric when she’s on screen, and I can’t wait to see what she does in the second season next month.
Best scene: While I loved the scene in which Peggy states that she knows her value, it’s the scene above that I really loved. Atwell is a force to be reckoned with. Everything about that scene is perfect, but it’s Atwell’s presence and delivery that really sell it.
Mike Colter as Luke Cage (Jessica Jones):
Even though Mike Colter only appeared in a handful of Jessica Jones episodes, he managed to steal nearly every scene he was in. I’ve seen folks compare his casting as Luke Cage to that of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, and I’d have to agree with them. He really was the perfect choice for the character and I can’t wait to see what he does next year when his solo series, Luke Cage, debuts on Netflix.
Best scene: When he confronts the bus driver about the death of his wife, only to have Jessica tell him the truth. The emotion he conveys in that scene – the rage – is powerful.
Adrianne Palicki as Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.):
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. established itself as an important piece of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with its second season that saw the introduction of a few new faces, including Adrianne Palicki as Bobbi Morse, aka Mockingbird. Over the course of two season, Palicki has quickly become not only a fan favorite, but apparently a Marvel Television favorite, as she’s currently set to star in her own spin-off, Marvel’s Most Wanted, which was ordered to pilot earlier this year. While I’m hoping that series does move forward, giving Palicki the ability to lead her own series, I won’t be disappointed if she remains put on S.H.I.E.L.D.. Even though she was only brought in last season, she has proven to be one of the strongest actresses on the show week after week. Her fight scenes are some of the best on Marvel Television, and every scene she’s in, she captures your attention. When it comes to actors from the television side of things that I’d like to see crossover into films? Palicki is easily at the top of my lists.
Best scene: There’s a scene between Bobbi and Hunter in season three where we see them having a serious conversation, and Bobbi tells Hunter she is afraid of losing him. It’s one of the rare sweet moments between the two characters, and it’s so well-written and perfectly acted by Palicki that it’s hard not to enjoy.
Who do you think had the best performance within the MCU this year? Sound off in the comments below!