christopher eccleston thor the dark world

Marvel Studios has had a spectacular run of critically acclaimed movies, and are far and away the most consistent producers of comic book movies. But you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet. And the MCU has more than a few bad eggs.

Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 2 are just a few of those bad eggs that Marvel would rather you forget. But how do the actors who starred in those critical flops feel about that? About the same — except they’re not afraid to disparage Marvel a little bit now that they’re no longer on that Disney paycheck. The latest ex-Marvel actor to speak out: Thor: The Dark World‘s Christopher Eccleston.

The Thor and G.I. Joe actor isn’t afraid to run his mouth. In fact, he’ll gladly do it, criticizing his blockbuster outings as just plain terrible movies.

“Working on something like G.I. Joe was horrendous,” Eccleston told The Guardian, reflecting on his roles in Hollywood tentpoles. “I just wanted to cut my throat every day. And Thor? Just a gun in your mouth.”

Eccleston played lead villain Laird James McCullen XXIV in G.I. Joe and the dark elf Malekith in Thor: The Dark World, two films that were savaged by critics. But Eccleston is not the only actor to go up against the corporate behemoth that is Marvel. Here are a few other actors and directors who were not too happy about the Marvel experience.

Other Disgruntled Marvel Actors and Directors

Edward Norton

Norton signed on to play Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk, just as the MCU was on the cusp of beginning. The Incredible Hulk was folded into the Marvel universe, but Norton’s Bruce Banner wasn’t, getting replaced by Mark Ruffalo in Avengers after reports of creative differences on set. Norton told Entertainment Weekly:

“I regret that [Marvel and Norton] didn’t come to an agreement where we could’ve all worked together. The press is what kept Edward and Marvel from talking to each other. [The argument] was nothing, but then it became something big.”

Terrence Howard in iron man

Terrence Howard

Another early replacement: Terrence Howard starred in 2008’s Iron Man, Marvel’s first runaway hit and the movie that would launch a cinematic universe. But while star Robert Downey Jr. would shoot to worldwide fame and Forbes’ highest-paid list, Howard would be replaced by Don Cheadle in Iron Man 2. In a radio interview with Sway in the Morning, Howard said that this would end up ruining his career:

“I love the fact that Iron Man put me on a world stage and tested my strength of character. Because I chose not to fight back, not to deal with the allegations, but to continue forward and do what I had to do. I had to start all over: went from making $6 million a movie, back to $60 thousand a movie. But as long as you don’t give up you are able… I’ll make $20 million soon. Because I have learned the lessons of yesterday.”

Mickey Rourke

Mickey Rourke was the Big Bad in the worst Iron Man movie, and one of the worst Marvel movies of all times. But it’s not entirely his fault, the Oscar-nominated actor told Crave Online. Rourke wanted to give his Russian baddie more depth, but his attempts to give Whiplash motivation ended up on the cutting room floor. He said:

“Well, you know, it is f**king too bad, but it’s their loss. If they want to make mindless comic book movies, then I don’t want to be a part of that. I don’t want to have to care so much and work so hard, and then fight them for intelligent reasoning, and just because they’re calling the shots they … You know, I didn’t work for three months on the accent and all the adjustments and go to Russia just so I could end up on the floor. Because that can make somebody say at the end of the day, oh f**k ’em, I’m just going to mail it in. But I’m not that kind of guy. I’m never going to mail it in.”

Hugo Weaving

Aside from Edward Norton, Hugo Weaving possibly had the most diplomatic way of saying he would never work with Marvel again. At a junket for Cloud Atlas, Weaving told Collider:

“I don’t think Red Skull will be there. And it’s not something I would want to do again. I’m glad I did it. I did sign up for a number of pictures and I suppose, contractually, I would be obliged to, if they forced me to, but they wouldn’t want to force someone to do it, if they didn’t want to. I think I’ve done my dash with that sort of film. It was good to do it and try it out, but to be honest, it’s not the sort of film I seek out and really am excited by.”

Thor - Heimdall - Idris Elba

Idris Elba

It turns out no one liked working on Thor: The Dark World. Even Marvel stalwart Idris Elba, who would go on to star in Thor: Ragnarok, called the production “torture” in a 2014 interview with The Telegraph:

“I’d just done eight months in South Africa [filming ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’]. I came to England and the day I came back I had to do reshoots on Thor 2. And in the actual scene my hair was different, my…[sighs]. I was like, ‘This is torture, man. I don’t want to do this.’ My agent said: ‘You have to, it’s part of the deal.'”

Joss Whedon

Marvel famously broke Joss Whedon after Avengers: Age of Ultron, a convoluted mish-mash of directorial vision and studio control. Whedon had helped steer Marvel to its world-dominating fame, even acting as consultant on several films, but he soon jumped ship after Age of Ultron and went across the aisle to DC. He told Hero Complex:

“I heard that voice in my head every time, ‘But is this a great idea?’ And suddenly I had doubt that I don’t usually suffer from. And meanwhile, the studio’s gonna have some too, because everything’s riding on this all of a sudden. And it became a problem in a way that nothing else has. And it was a hard movie to make on top of that. So being paralyzed by either indecision or the weight of responsibility? Not useful, don’t have time for your paralysis, son, snap out of it. This was the hardest work I’ve ever done… it a little bit broke me.”

Thor The Dark World - Natalie Portman in Future Marvel Movies

Natalie Portman

Another Thor: The Dark World victim. Portman famously clashed with Marvel producers after her hand-picked director, Wonder Woman‘s Patty Jenkins, was fired from Thor: The Dark World. It was reported that Portman wanted to quit the entire series in protest, but her contract required her to finish the film.

She hasn’t appeared in another Marvel movie since, but by 2016, she seems to have mellowed on the situation. She told the Wall Street Journal:

“As far as I know, I’m done. I mean, I don’t know if maybe one day they’ll ask for an Avengers 7 or whatever, I have no idea. But as far as I know, I’m done, but it was a great thing to be a part of.”

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