Author Topic: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?  (Read 14955 times)

Offline serious crayons

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http://www.vulture.com/2013/11/why-superhero-actors-arent-superstars-anymore-thor-chris-hemsworth.html?mid=vulture_newsletter&om_rid=AACJ8k&om_mid=_BSfAZbB82MSeV9

Today at 12:45 PM
Why the Newest Superhero Movies Can’t Seem to Make Their Actors Into Superstars
By Kyle Buchanan








As we spent the last few months gathering data for our annual Most Valuable Stars list, we noticed something unusual: Many of the actors who had starred in the biggest superhero movies of the last several years — including Chris Hemsworth, who takes up the hammer yet again in this weekend’s Thor: The Dark World — were consistently cursed with the lowest awareness scores of anyone on our entire list, according to a statistic furnished to us by nationwide surveying company E-Score. Most of the people questioned by E-Score had surely seen or heard of blockbusters like Thor, Captain America, The Amazing Spider-Man, and Man of Steel, but when asked if they recognized the names of Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Andrew Garfield, and Henry Cavill, these regular folks drew a blank. Admittedly, it’s harder than ever to grow a bona fide new A-lister — that’s why the industry seems to be clinging to the ascendant Jennifer Lawrence like a life raft — but this specific data raises a question that should be troubling for any well-muscled young actor hoping to don a cape and tights someday: If $300 and $400 million–grossing blockbusters can't make you famous anymore, what can?

Consider the evidence: According to E-Poll, Hemsworth’s awareness score is 22 out of 100, even though he starred in Thor and prominently co-starred in one of the biggest movies of all time, The Avengers. His comrade-in-arms Chris Evans has an even worse score, 18, despite the fact that before he made Captain America, he’d been kicking around Hollywood longer than Hemsworth. Man of Steel was this year’s third biggest hit, earning nearly $300 million domestically, but star Henry Cavill can only manage an 11 awareness score, one measly point higher than Andrew Garfield, our current Spider-Man. And then we come to the actor on our Most Valuable Stars list who had the rock-bottom lowest awareness score: That would be Michael Fassbender, who Fox picked to co-lead 2011’s X-Men: First Class, though two years later, he still can’t manage an awareness number higher than 7.

Superhero movies are bigger than ever, so why aren’t these actors’ names just as big? Here are three things to blame for this downturn in star super-power.

The comic-book movie market is oversaturated.

Why didn't last year's The Amazing Spider-Man make Andrew Garfield as famous as the first Spider-Man movie seemed to make Tobey Maguire? Perhaps that’s because the thrill is gone: In 2002, when Maguire’s first crack at Spider-Man came out, big-budget comic-book movies were still a welcome rarity. Spider-Man was the highest grossing film of the year in 2002, the first superhero film since 1989’s Batman to pull off that box-office benchmark, but in the last seven years alone, Spider-Man 3, The Dark Knight, The Avengers, and Iron Man 3 have all topped the annual box office in the years they came out. Even as recently as 2005, when Christian Bale (awareness score: 47) donned the bat-cowl for the first time in Batman Begins, his film was the sole comic-book entry in the top-twenty highest-grossing films of the year. 2012, by contrast, had three superhero movies in the top ten. There’s simply no time to really dig into these comic-book blockbusters — and become obsessed with the men who star in them — if another is coming along just a few weeks later.

It’s also important to note that when Maguire first starred as Spider-Man, the era of modern effects-driven cinema was still just getting started. The original Spider-Man was a major leap forward in CG-driven action scenes and provided web-slinging sights that felt fresh and exciting. The halo effect of that thrill — the feeling that the movie was showing you something special that you’d never seen on a screen before — couldn’t help but bestow movie stardom on its lead actor. The effects work on last year’s The Amazing Spider-Man was accomplished, and it’s impressive what a team of top-flight artists have realized in Thor: The Dark World, but these movies feel more like a refinement of skills than a great leap forward in moviemaking; is it any surprise that no comic-book movie has won the special effects Oscar since Spider-Man 2 in 2004? Americans will still line up in droves for these comic-book movies, but they don’t stick in the mind as long afterward, and sooner than ever, the names of their actors are forgotten, too.

It takes more than a movie to make a movie star.

Chris Hemsworth is a terrifically charismatic person onscreen (he was a delight in Ron Howard’s racing drama Rush), but off-screen, he hasn’t quite captured the public’s imagination — even a recent Esquire cover story on Hemsworth had to invent several fantasy interludes just to make the actor sound more dynamic. Maybe that’s why his younger brother Liam has a higher awareness score than Chris, despite the fact that Liam’s main claim to onscreen fame thus far has been about ten total minutes in The Hunger Games: Liam dated the controversial Miley Cyrus for years, which garnered far more headlines than a simple film role would have.

If you want to be a well-known movie star these days, it helps, then, to bring a little something extra to the table. Actors like Evans and Cavill aren’t known for much else besides their superhero roles; neither of them lands on the pages of People or Us with any regularity, and when they’re not doing press for their films, they don’t attract much additional attention or awareness. The instructive thing is that in virtually all of these superhero films, the female leads have far higher awareness numbers than the men they’re supporting: Compare Natalie Portman’s 53 to Chris Hemsworth’s 22, or Emma Stone’s 39 to Andrew Garfield’s 10, or even Amy Adams’s 29 to Cavill’s 11. It’s no wonder that Scarlett Johansson has assumed the female lead in next year’s Captain America sequel since she positively dwarfs her co-star Chris Evans when it comes to awareness scores, earning 52 to his 18.

All of these women have plenty going on besides their superhero films — you can’t go a day without seeing one of them in a makeup ad or on a magazine cover, and if they break up with a beau or get engaged, it’s headline news — which makes audiences more curious about them and more aware of who they are, solidifying their star power. In an era when reality shows and social networks define a new normal that’s all about oversharing, it’s clear that our most recent superheroes have a lot to learn about getting press (since we still have a lot to learn about them).

These stars feel too expendable to get attached to.

Marvel famously asks its stars to sign multi-film contracts, but if Hemsworth and Evans begin to sour on the superhero process or attempt to play financial hardball, is there any doubt whatsoever that Marvel will have them replaced with other actors before you can say “Avengers assemble”? We’ve already seen it done with breathtaking speed over the last few years, as Andrew Garfield abruptly snatched the Spider-Man mask from Tobey Maguire after a planned Spider-Man 4 fell through, and Christian Bale barely had any time to bask in his Dark Knight Rises swan song before Ben Affleck was announced as the new Batman. If we now get the feeling that a star is simply the temporary custodian of the super-suit, is it really worth learning who’s playing who?

There are a precious few exceptions, of course. Robert Downey Jr. out-rates all of his fellow superheroes with an awareness level of 69, and he’s so identified with the Iron Man franchise that Marvel has respectfully put a temporary hold on those films while Downey Jr. mulls over whether he really wants to make more stand-alone movies about Tony Stark. (He’s signed up for two more Avengers sequels at present, and that’s it.) Meanwhile, Hugh Jackman boasts an awareness score of 59, and he’s played Wolverine so indelibly and for so long that Fox just signed him for yet another film about the character, rather than recast a role that Jackman has been playing since the first X-Men movie was released in 2000. Both men broke into comic-book movies when those efforts still felt fairly fresh, and both are reliable headline-getters besides; it’s no wonder that they have a tighter claim on their super-suits than low-awareness actors like Cavill, Evans, and Hemsworth.

Or has this awareness crisis been part of Hollywood’s nefarious plan all along? With new movie stars seemingly coming fewer and farther between, studio executives now like to say that their intellectual property is the real star, meaning that audiences will still pay to see Superman or Thor regardless of whether the studio has booked a big name to fill the role. And if these superhero parts now create fewer superstars, that makes talent negotiations even simpler: The actors can’t demand additional money if nobody really knows who they are, and if the audience still doesn’t recognize these would-be stars even after several sequels, that makes the actors easier to replace when their contracts run out. In the end, then, the biggest threat that these superheroes will face has nothing to do with an overpowered arch-villain: Instead, it will come from the executives who are all too eager to move on, and from the audiences who aren’t invested enough in these stars to protest.



Offline delalluvia

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2013, 08:25:58 pm »
Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?

Why does anyone think it should?

Sure Scarlett Johansson is more well known than Chris Evans, but it's hard to not remember a shapely blond who appears scantily clothed on magazine covers.  Can you name many movies she been in besides comic book movies?

Perhaps actors who wear tights in movie franchises don't want to be superstars, making multi-millions in paychecks, dating supermodels and living isolated in a villa somewhere in Europe because they can't go out in the streets in the US without attracting a mob.

Perhaps they'd rather be actors, developing their craft and doing smaller parts that interest them and don't want to be type-cast.   Sir Alec Guiness will probably forever be known as old Ben Kenobi.  He hated that.  He wanted to be remembered for his more intricate roles.

And speaking of Star Wars, remember, who became the superstar out of the original trilogy?

No one.

It took Indiana Jones to make Harrison Ford a star. 

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2013, 10:45:48 pm »
Sure Scarlett Johansson is more well known than Chris Evans, but it's hard to not remember a shapely blond who appears scantily clothed on magazine covers.  Can you name many movies she been in besides comic book movies?

Girl With a Pearl Earring?
Lost in Translation?
The Other Boleyn Girl?
Match Point?
The Prestige?


Quote
Perhaps actors who wear tights in movie franchises don't want to be superstars, making multi-millions in paychecks, dating supermodels and living isolated in a villa somewhere in Europe because they can't go out in the streets in the US without attracting a mob.

Perhaps they'd rather be actors, developing their craft and doing smaller parts that interest them and don't want to be type-cast.

You're kidding here, right?

If that's what they wanted they wouldn't be appearing blockbuster superhero movies. They'd be appearing in quiet little indie flicks.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline delalluvia

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2013, 11:23:00 pm »
Girl With a Pearl Earring?
Lost in Translation?
The Other Boleyn Girl?
Match Point?
The Prestige?

I'd forgotten most of these.  The only ones I remembered was The Island and Lost in Translation, though I couldn't remember the title until you told me. 

Quote
You're kidding here, right?

If that's what they wanted they wouldn't be appearing blockbuster superhero movies. They'd be appearing in quiet little indie flicks.

They do.  They play in big blockbuster franchises to pay the bills, so they can afford to spend the rest of their time making small indie movies.  Becoming a superstar isn't their goal.

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2013, 01:03:48 am »
Oh, and don't forget her first movie...The Horse Whisperer.
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Offline Penthesilea

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2013, 02:59:39 am »
Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?

Why does anyone think it should?


Well, I for one don't think they should, or should not, but they definitively used to. I'm totally not into superhero movies and have never been. To this day I haven't seen Christopher Reeve as Superman. But I do remember the fuss the movie(s) created and how big Reeves was.

For me, the article was more like "Oh, so I'm not the only one". :laugh:
Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Andrew Garfield, and Henry Cavill - I'm also drawing a complete blank when hearing these names. Only Chris Hemsworth rang a bell, albeit I couldn't place him. I had thought it was a sign of getting older, having no idea about today's superheroes and the according movies. They used to play a big part in popular culture. No matter if you were interested or not, or if you actually saw the movies or not - they were so much talked about that at least you knew the blurb and the respective actors. Now, not so much.

I think superhero movies and with them the actors are a 'victim' of their own success. The oversaturation mentioned in the article.

Offline CellarDweller

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2013, 09:21:29 am »
I think the last time I went to see a superhero movie was Dark Knight, and that was to see Heath as The Joker.

I did see the Batman movie where Anne Hathaway played Catwoman, but saw it during a trip on a plane, so I didn't pay for it.  LOL

It's my understanding that it was either love/hate with Anne in that role.  Comic fans did not like her portrayal of Catwoman, while reviewers thought she was great in the role.

I thought she was a very intersting Catwoman.






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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2013, 10:18:07 am »
They do.  They play in big blockbuster franchises to pay the bills, so they can afford to spend the rest of their time making small indie movies.  Becoming a superstar isn't their goal.

Nah, I still think you're wrong. They could follow the example of Ryan Gosling, who has never appeared in a superhero blockbuster movie--though I just discovered that he played Hercules as a teenager ( :o ) in a TV show that I never heard of.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Luvlylittlewing

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2013, 12:15:20 pm »
Am I the only one who likes superhero movies?  It is my goal to see every one that comes out, even though I miss a few.   :)

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2013, 12:39:38 pm »
Am I the only one who likes superhero movies?  It is my goal to see every one that comes out, even though I miss a few.   :)

I don't think you are. I saw and liked Man of Steel, and not just because of Henry Cavill. I liked the new "spin" put on the story, showing Clark/Superman coming to terms with who he is, and all, and I liked Amy Adams' Lois Lane. But I was never a reader of superhero comic books, and Superman is really the only superhero who interests me.

I did see Captain America, and I liked that one, too (probably would have skipped it but for the publicity photos of buffed-up Chris Evans  ::) ). But Spider-man and Batman have never interested me (I did see the Batman movie that had Chris O'Donnel as Robin in a bulging rubber codpiece  ;D but even for that one I waited to see it on TV).

I caught the first Ironman movie on TV, and thought that was kind of fun, but mainly because of the character of Tony Stark. I was very amused to read an article in this morning's newspaper where the writer felt that Tony Stark would be right at home at a cocktail party with Nick and Nora Charles (of the 1930s Thin Man movies).

I guess I just never really cared for a "superhero" who could be killed by an ordinary bullet, assuming he wasn't wearing some sort of body armor.

And the Lone Ranger is more my type anyway.  ;D  Zorro would do in a pinch, too.  ;D
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2013, 03:10:09 pm »
Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Andrew Garfield, and Henry Cavill - I'm also drawing a complete blank when hearing these names.

I know Chris Evans mostly from the fantastic Cellular and from this somewhat-less-fantastic but still pretty watchable romcom in which he starred with Anna Faris. I know Andrew Garfield mostly from The Social Network.

Quote
I think superhero movies and with them the actors are a 'victim' of their own success. The oversaturation mentioned in the article.

Agreed. Over the years, I have enjoyed ones that stood out from the crowd somehow. The early ones like Superman stood out because they were pioneering, Spider Man featured some amazing FX, Tim Burton's Batman and then later Christopher Nolan's Dark Knights (at least the first two) took tone and artistry in new directions, Ironman had Robert Downey Jr., and so on.

But whenever I go to a superhero movie nowadays, even one that's critically acclaimed, I find myself falling asleep. Sustained action sequences bridged with little dialogue or character development just shut off my brain. I slept through the so much of the third Dark Knight I can't even honestly claim to have seen it.

Superhero/comic book movies have become a boring, immature, oversaturated genre that annoys me because their ubiquity implies that, to Hollywood moguls, the tastes of 15-year-old boys trump every other demo's.


Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2013, 05:15:01 pm »
Superhero/comic book movies have become a boring, immature, oversaturated genre that annoys me because their ubiquity implies that, to Hollywood moguls, the tastes of 15-year-old boys trump every other demo's.

It's all about who spends the most money in the theaters.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Monika

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2013, 05:30:43 pm »
I agree about most superhero movies being pretty bad - and sometimes terrible. With one exception - the Spider Man saga - I like the movies staring Toby McGuire and the latest one with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone (both very good actors. Btw - Andrew Garfield was in The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus) as well. The Spider Man movies are quirky and are as much about Peter Parker as they are about his superhero alter ego.

I find the Christopher Nolan Batman movies....ok. But who really gives a damn about Bruce Wayne/Batman? It´s all about the supporting roles.

As for the recent Superman movies....ouch. Brandon Routh was so bad he has hardly gotten another movie role since, and Henry Caville hardly showed a single emotion.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2013, 06:06:17 pm »
It's all about who spends the most money in the theaters.

True, but if that assumption shapes the content, it all becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, doesn't it?

It's true older people don't go out to the movies as often as teenagers, and they're less likely to see a movie multiple times. But I have seen figures lately suggesting that boomers, having more diposable income than other age groups, are a more powerful market force than "old people" are usually given credit for.

I should add that I think the actual key demographic isn't even age, it's nationality. The more a movie appeals to/can be understood by people who aren't American and perhaps don't speak English, the better. A superhero movie or action thriller translates better than a quirky little dialogue- and character-driven indie. And it's the global box office that counts, in the end, these days.


Offline delalluvia

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2013, 08:46:31 pm »
Nah, I still think you're wrong. They could follow the example of Ryan Gosling, who has never appeared in a superhero blockbuster movie--though I just discovered that he played Hercules as a teenager ( :o ) in a TV show that I never heard of.

Ryan Gosling from the blockbuster The Notebook?  That Ryan Gosling?

Offline delalluvia

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2013, 08:50:41 pm »
Am I the only one who likes superhero movies?  It is my goal to see every one that comes out, even though I miss a few.   :)

Nope.  I love them, just not all of them.

Superman and the Hulk are boring.  Movies about them always have to focus on their social and emotional lives because otherwise, they're invincible, no one can match them.

Batman is boring.  The last one I saw was the one with Heath Ledger and I only saw it because of him.

Ironman is annoying.  I can only take just so much of RDJs smarminess.


I love Thor, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and Captain America.  Green Lantern was cute, but I just don't like Ryan Reynolds that much.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2013, 10:06:14 pm »
Ryan Gosling from the blockbuster The Notebook?  That Ryan Gosling?

Yes, that Ryan Gosling. However, The Notebook, I submit, is not a superhero blockbuster, and we are talking here about superhero blockbusters.

You can't wiggle out of this one, Del, by switching blockbusters in midstream.  ;)
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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #17 on: November 08, 2013, 10:09:08 pm »
True, but if that assumption shapes the content, it all becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, doesn't it?

Yes, it does, but it is what it is, I suppose.

Quote
It's true older people don't go out to the movies as often as teenagers, and they're less likely to see a movie multiple times. But I have seen figures lately suggesting that boomers, having more diposable income than other age groups, are a more powerful market force than "old people" are usually given credit for.

And by the time Hollywood catches up to that, we'll all be dead.  ;D

Quote
I should add that I think the actual key demographic isn't even age, it's nationality. The more a movie appeals to/can be understood by people who aren't American and perhaps don't speak English, the better. A superhero movie or action thriller translates better than a quirky little dialogue- and character-driven indie. And it's the global box office that counts, in the end, these days.

That's a good point.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline delalluvia

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #18 on: November 09, 2013, 02:25:26 am »
Yes, that Ryan Gosling. However, The Notebook, I submit, is not a superhero blockbuster, and we are talking here about superhero blockbusters.

You can't wiggle out of this one, Del, by switching blockbusters in midstream.  ;)

No, we were basically talking about why some actors do mainstream movies that make a lot of money.  ;D

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #19 on: November 09, 2013, 04:07:36 pm »
No, we were basically talking about why some actors do mainstream movies that make a lot of money.  ;D

I don't know that anyone expected The Notebook to be a surefire blockbuster from the get-go. Yes, the Nicholas Sparks novel book on which it is based was probably a bestseller, but a lot of bestselling novels make insignificant movies. Neither Ryan Gosling nor Rachel McAdams was particularly famous at the time. I myself didn't see it until years after it came out on DVD.



Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #20 on: November 09, 2013, 05:41:32 pm »
No, we were basically talking about why some actors do mainstream movies that make a lot of money.  ;D

No, basically, this thread is about superhero movies.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline delalluvia

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Re: Why can't new superhero movies make their actors into superstars?
« Reply #21 on: November 10, 2013, 03:42:28 pm »
No, basically, this thread is about superhero movies.

No, the OP is about superhero movies.

Basically the theme is about mainstream extremely popular movies NOT making their actors superstars.  They seem to think this is a recent phenomenon and only limited to superhero movies.

I pointed out Star Wars.

Let me give you another - Michael Biehn.  He was in two of the 1980s biggest blockbusters - Terminator and Aliens.  He is a good actor, he was good looking and a hero in those movies.  He even had a pivotal co-starring role in the Abyss.  But his career never took off.