When discussing the current renaissance of comic book films, the significance of X-Men (2000) and Spider-Man (2002) cannot be dismissed. Although looking back, the impact cannot be denied, during those years actors like Willem Dafoe were told they were “slumming it” if they took on a comic book role.
Willem Dafoe famously portrayed Norman Osborn a.k.a. the Green Goblin in Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man film. Although his performance as Spidey’s iconic antagonist has since been beloved by fans, many of Dafoe’s contemporaries felt that him signing on for a comic book film was a bit weird, given his reputation at the time as one of the most respected character actors (which he still holds to this day).
In honor of his Oscar buzz for his performance in The Florida Project, Willem Dafoe appeared on Variety’s Actors on Actors series alongside Hugh Jackman (Logan, The Greatest Showman). During their discussion, they talked about the state of comic book films and reflected on their iconic roles as the Green Goblin and Logan/Wolverine respectively.
In regards to him taking on the Green Goblin, Willem Dafoe reflected on the universal sentiment among many actors and actresses in the industry at the time before superhero films became the popular event that they are now:
“When Spider-Man was proposed to me originally it was like, ‘Really, you’re going to make a movie from a comic book? It was like I was slumming it, you know? I didn’t see it that way, but some people were like, ‘Really?’”
Since then, Willem Dafoe and Hugh Jackman paved the way for other fellow Academy Award-nominated actors and actresses to sign on for roles in superhero films.
Willem Dafoewill be returning to the comic book world as he transfers from Marvel to DC in James Wan’s Aquaman when it splashes into theaters on December 21, 2018.