This week's Your Nerd Side Show:
One of the more interesting success stories in Hollywood in recent years is the return of Brendan Fraser. It's not that the actor went away, as he's doing well on the small screen in Doom Patrol. But many fans hoped to see him once more earn praise on the big screen. That acclaim finally arrived with his starring role in the controversial yet acclaimed drama, The Whale, for which Fraser won an Academy Award.
This newfound prestige status has continued with movies such as Killers of the Flower Moonand Brothers. Nevertheless, some of Fraser's fans are still holding out for a role in a mainstream superhero movie. This could see the actor regain mainstream prominence and recall his older, action-based hits. While his DC Comics has come to an end with the TV series Doom Patrol now over, Fraser could still get this time in the limelight at Marvel Studios as its most powerful Avenger: The Sentry.
Updated by Timothy Blake Donohoo on December 11, 2023: The Sentry is now supposedly flying into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, all while an altered version of the character takes shape in the comic books. All the while, actor Brendan Fraser is continuing to regain a massive audience of fans, due both to nostalgia for his older movies and his acclaimed performances in new projects. Given his skill and the star power that it would afford the hero, this makes Fraser the best actor to portray Marvel's Golden Guardian of Good.
The Sentry Is One of Marvel's Most Controversial Characters
Sentry, aka Robert "Bob" Reynolds, is a divisive character due to his handling since his creation in 2000. He consumed a Super-Soldier Serum variant and transformed into a godlike Superman. However, apart from being a drug addict, he had many domestic problems, fracturing his psyche and making him a mix of a supernatural and cosmic destroyer thanks to the other persona in his mind: the Void.
Bob ended up feuding with The Avengers, working for Norman Osborn and becoming a Horseman of the Apocalypse, showcasing his might in scenes where he ripped Ares apart, mauled Carnage and wrecked New Asgard. He had shades of Osborn, as well as Bruce Banner, in the way he fought to keep his evil side at bay, but when he cut loose, he was truly a destructive force, as Phoenix and Hulk could attest to.
Created by Paul Jenkins, Jae Lee and Rick Veitch, The Sentry debuted in the first issue of his eponymous series. The premise behind the character outside the comics was that this was a superhero created by Stan Lee before the iconic writer envisioned the Fantastic Four. This idea was reflected in the fact that, due to his battles with The Void, The Sentry had been forgotten by the Marvel Universe at large. Thus, his entire history with various Marvel heroes and villains had been completely erased. The initial miniseries was well-received, but continued returns for the hero made some fans less than receptive towards him.
One issue was the forcing of such a supposedly important figure into the framework of the Marvel Universe's history. Fans resented the idea that this character was always conveniently forgotten amid the universe's greatest conflicts. Likewise, he was clearly made in the Superman mold, though he actually had more in common with Miracleman, based on Fawcett Comics' Captain Marvel. Regardless, it was again an issue of trying to stick an ill-fitting concept in a world where it didn't quite make sense. Conversely, because The Sentry was so powerful, constant contrivances (namely issues with his mental health) were created to make him ineffective. While poorly implemented, these ideas did have the capability of being well done. In fact, a more developed version of The Sentry's flaws might make for the best potential Brendan Fraser Marvel casting.
Currently, the once mighty Marvel Cinematic Universe is seeing mixed results with adapting more esoteric characters and concepts, with these elements being used to tread new paths in the shared universe. At the same time, the MCU needs fresh faces that actually make an impact and grab audiences in the same way as Robert Downey, Jr.'s Iron Man or Chris Evans' Captain America. A major criticism about the newer "replacement" heroes is that they lack this depth and thus come off as far too shallow. Thus, the MCU desperately needs something for older, more mature audiences. Likewise, when it comes to serious talent such as Brendan Fraser, Marvel just might have the perfect complex character for him to play.
The Sentry's entire history (in the comics, at least) encompasses the various eras of superhero comic books. It involves romance, drama and action, with Bob's story requiring someone who can add layers to this nuance. Fraser has shown he can do this as a depressive recluse who deals with weight issues in The Whale, not to mention his perfomance as Cliff in Doom Patrol. There, the Brendan Fraser superhero in question believed that he was a monster the world wouldn't embrace. This mirrors the mental struggle of The Sentry and The Void, with the former thinking that he has to hide away due to the latter's threat.
Playing The Sentry would allow the Brendan Fraser superhero to tap into the actor's real-life experiences. This might include when he disappeared after his mother's death, or when he felt like the entertainment industry didn't have his back following a sexual assault case. By mining these saddening tragedies, Fraser can paint a character portrait of a veteran, - the frail and meek Bob Reynolds - who's scared of the outside world.
The Brendan Fraser superhero can even tie into Sentry manipulating things, so the world forgets about him, organically working with the sorcerers at Kamar-Taj or even the yet-to-be-seen Fantastic Four. It'd be even worse if he tried to resurrect his wife, Lindy, or sought out a friend -- which can lead to Osborn (should he be introduced into the MCU) or other tyrants wanting to use a vulnerable man. Ultimately, Fraser has the gravitas and real-life experience to match Sentry's energy and give the MCU an unpredictable powerhouse that could break it, providing a new breed of heroes with someone to be scared of, even if Bob's perceived to be a friend.
Currently, Steven Yeun is rumored to be the actor playing The Sentry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movie Thunderbolts. This is a major divergence from the comic books, especially given how iconic The Sentry's design is. Instead of a blond white man, The Sentry/Bob Reynolds will now seemingly be portrayed as an Asian man. Conversely, it's highly unlikely that the idea of The Sentry being a long-forgotten hero will be maintained. After all, this idea was somewhat used for the MCU's Carol Danvers. She was active in the 1990s (long before the Avengers were formed) and only came into prominence in time for Avengers: Endgame.
This status as something of a forced "deus ex machina" has already made Danvers a contentious character among fans, as she ironically emulates the forced nature of The Sentry from the comics. Conversely, while it can be argued that Bob Reynolds' ethnicity is irrelevant, drastically changing a character to this level (namely one that Marvel Comics pushed heavily for several years) isn't exactly what the MCU needs at the moment. Amid the controversy and poor reviews and box office disappointment of many recent projects, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is far weaker and less popular than it's ever been. Thus, anything that might ward off hardcore fans is something to be avoided.
Instead, utilizing Brendan Fraser in the MCU to play The Sentry is a more logical choice, if only due to his current popularity. Many audiences have heralded the so-called "Brenaissance," with the hope being that he'll regain his former prominence in Hollywood. By bringing in one of the biggest stars of the early 2000s, the MCU can generate hype for The Sentry while also possibly regaining some goodwill. This Brendan Fraser Marvel hero might also be reflected in the comics, which are currently heavily altering The Sentry. By using the movies to pivot back to the character's dark, conflicted roots, the MCU can likewise get the comics back on track while also highlighting an actor that many moviegoers have come to stand by.