Superhero Cinema and the 1980s Comeback Kids!



It has been one heck of a summer for comic book cinema, with three films released which have succeeded both creatively and financially. However, there appears to be one trend that no one has noticed so far: the appearance of former 1980s greats in small roles which give them a big darn hero moments. Indeed, both C. Thomas Howell and Matthew Modine have been given chances to shine in The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Risesrespectfully, and it has managed to get me thinking about other 1980s greats who need to pop up in future comic book blockbusters, and where they might best fit in. 

So, in no particular order, here are ten greats we need to see back on the big screen soon.
Michael Dudikoff

Just tell me you wouldn’t want to see Dudikoff kicking butt on the big screen beside Hugh Jackman. I dare you. 
Who Is He? The flippin’ American Ninja (1985), that’s who! Along with starring in two of the American Ninja sequels (American Ninja 2: The Confrontation and American Ninja 4: The Annihilation), Dudikoff also appeared in the original Tron (1982) as Conscript #2 and the Tom Hanks “classic” Bachelor Party (1984).
Recent years have seen a near total absence of Dudikoff from both out cinema screens and home video devices, with his last role on IMDB as of this writing being ten years ago. What better way to bring this golden hero of the 1980s back to the masses than through the power of comic book cinema?
What Film Should He Appear In? The Wolverine (2013), where Dudikoff can once again use his ninja skills. Just imagine the epic final battle where Wolverine is facing off with the Yakuza and taking a beating, only for an old and grizzled Dudikoff to pop up and heroically help Logan take on the horde of villains.
Louis Gossett Jr.
Don’t remember Gossett Jr.? Just visit your local Wallmart’s five dollar DVD bin and your memory will be refreshed.
Who Is He? Ok, I am sure one of you is going to turn around and try and point out that Gossett Jr. has a long and proud career long before the 1980s, including appearing in the classic mini-series Roots (1977). But I want an honest show of hands: how many of you remember Gossett Jr. for his early, respectable work, and how many of you remember him from the five billion times Jaws 3-D (1983), Iron Eagle (1986), Firewalker (1986), and The Punisher (1989) played on Saturday afternoon television in the early to mid-1990s? Yeah, I thought as much.
What Film Should He Appear In Now? Given his age, Gossett might be a bit too old to kick butt like he used to, but who wouldn’t love to see him chew out Steve Rogers as an army General in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)?
Alex Winter
The hair, the clothes; you can’t get more 1980s than Alex Winter.
Who Is He? Don’t recognize the name Alex Winter? That’s because you probably know him better as Bill S. Preston, Esquire, from the 1989 classic Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and its superior 1991 sequel, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.
While Bill and Ted co-star Keanu Reeves managed to use the success of the films to further his ascent to Hollywood superstar, Winter’s acting career would prove to be short lived. However, he has managed to carve a career path behind the scenes in film and television, directing for both television and feature films, and working on programs such as Jimmy Kimmel Live.
What Film Should He Appear In Now? With Fox looking to reboot the Fantastic Four, a Silver Surfer film cannot be too far behind. Just image a film where the sage advice of Winter helps the Surfer overcome a major cosmic threat: it would be a scene worthy of Oscar gold. Gold I tell you!
Fred Ward
You are not seeing things: that is Wilford Brimley with his name above the title!
Who Is He? Fred Ward had a dream: to become a major film star. In 1985, Ward took his shot at stardom with Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins… and properly returned to the supporting actor category (well, ok, after UFOria from the same year), forever playing second fiddle to the likes of Kevin Bacon in Tremors (1990) and Alec Baldwin in Miami Blues (1990).
Despite appearing in various respected works in the early 1990s, Ward’s career would take a nose dive in the latter half of the decade. Sadly, his career has never really recovered, with the lowest point possibly being starring with Mathew Modine in the 2004 family “comedy” Funky Monkey. If Modine can score big by appearing in The Dark Knight Riseshowever, why can’t Ward find cinematic redemption in a superhero film?
What Film Should He Appear In Now? While a role as a secret agent may have once helped end his leading man dreams, appearing alongside the Black Widow and Hawkeye in a S.H.E.I.L.D. film might just get him out of straight to video hell. Or not. Still, it would be pretty cool to see.


Ralph Macchio
I am not going to lie: I wanted to include the late Pat Morita on this list, but Macchio is now the closest I can get.
Who Is He? This may come as a surprise to you younger readers, but before Jaden Smith, Ralph Macchio was the Karate Kid (1984). True story. Also beating Smith to the punch for the title? Hilary Swank, who starred in The Next Karate Kid(1994), the final film in the Karate Kid saga.
But I digress.  Since the end of the 1980s, Macchio has worked steadily as a supporting actor and participating in some good natured mockery of his biggest claim to fame. However, having just scored a role in the upcoming film about the making of Psycho, now is the time for Macchio to strike for a big comeback, and what better way than scoring a supporting role in a major superhero film?
What Film Should He Appear In Now? As a onetime teen idol, Macchio would be a great catch as a villain in a Teen Titians film. I don’t care as who: I just want to see him lay the smack down on Robin.


Dean Stockwell

You wish you were as cool as Dean Stockwell. We all do.

Who Is He? Dune (1984). To Live and Die In L.A. (1985). Blue Velvet (1986). During the 1980s, if you wanted to try and guarentee your film would be a cult classic, you had to haveDean Stockwell in your film.


But let’s face it, most people will know him from one simple little television series: Quantum Leap, the series in which Stockwell played time traveller Sam Beckett’s (Scott Bakula) only companion, Al Calavicci. Since the end of the series, Stockwell has had a solid career, but any comic book film would be lucky to score Stockwell amongst its cast members.


What Film Should He Appear in Now? When Marvel finally gets around to making the Damage Control film  the world needs (yes, NEEDS), somebody needs to find a place to put Stockwell in the film. Given that Wilson Fisk can’t appear in a Marvel film due to Fox holding the rights, Stockwell showing up as a shady investor is a great substitute, no?
John Pankow

Anyone get the feeling this is what Pankow’s face looked like every morning between 1992 and 1999 while working on Mad About You?

Who Is He? Ok, most people will remember Pankow from that awful television sitcom Mad About You from the 1990s. Actually, that is what almost everyone will remember him from.


However, in the 1980s, Pankow appeared in a string of cool films: To Live and Die In L.A. (1985) and Talk Radio (1988) among them. Typically playing an individual who is either uptight, by the book, and/or a bit panicky, Pankow hit it big with Mad About You in the 1990s before mainly returning to the stage in the 2000s.


What Film Should He Appear In Now? Funny enough, Pankow looks not unlike Clark Gregg, Agent Coulson from the Marvel films. It would be pretty cool if in Captain America: The Winter Soldier,  Steve Rogers stops by to see Coulson’s brother to give his condolences, and finds Pankow standing there, would it not?


Ally Sheedy

If any member of the Brat Pack’s career should get a shot in the arm for, it is Ally Sheedy.

Who Is She? You have to feel sorry for Ally Sheedy to some degree: she was in The Breakfast Club (1985), St. Elmo’s Fire (1985), WarGames (1983), and has had a solid post-1980s career, yet she remains in Molly Ringwald’s shadow.


Well, it is time for Sheedy to step out of that shadow! And the best way how would be to score a major role in a comic book film. The question is, just what acting gig should she get?


What Film Should She Appear In Now? Next time they reboot Batman, they need to include Dr. Leslie Thompkins, a key ally of Bruce Wayne in his fight against crime. And who better to take on the role than Sheedy?


Peter Billingsley

When I have kids, they will have to watch A Christmas Story. They will have no choice.

Who Is He? He’s Ralphie. Enough said.


(Well, ok, he was also in this.)


What Film Should He Appear in Now? Ok, given that Billingsley has gone on to be a successful producer and director, including producing and briefly appearing in the first Iron Man film, he probably shouldn’t be on this list. But dang it, wouldn’t it be great to have Billingsley in a scene with Nick Fury in The Avengers 2 as an inept agent, where Fury warns him he is going to shoot his eye out?


Ok, I’ll get my coat, but before I go…


Michael Paré

In some alternate universe, Michael Paré is a worldwide superstar, as it should be.



Who Is He? If the world was fair, we’d all know who Michael Paré is. He would have been one of the biggest stars of the 1980s, being the leading man in some of the hardest hitting action films the decade produced.


And why should that have been the case? Because he was in Streets of Fire (1984), the most underrated film of Walter Hill’s career. It is a film so slam bang awesome that I dare you, DARE YOU, to watch the trailer for the film and try and tell me it isn’t amongst the best two minutes and twenty-two seconds of your life. Not only that, the film is pretty much one of the greatest comic book films ever made, and it isn’t even based on a comic!


Trapped in DTV hell for pretty much the last twenty years, Michael Paré deserves better.


What Film Should He Appear in Now? Forget a quick cameo or minor supporting role. If Michael Paré is going to be in a big comic book film, Marvel had better cast him in the one role he was born to play; Frank Castle, aka the Punisher. Now that Marvel has the rights back, they need to figure out how to use the character, and what better way then having him show up as a crazed maniac looking to take down supervillains with extreme prejudice?

Dave

Dave is the co-host of 24 Panels Per Second.

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