Marvel Cinematic Universe actors: Tim Roth


Tim Roth takes on the role of the second Marvel Cinematic Universe villain, Emil Blonsky a.k.a. The Abomination, in Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk.

Although he is not the only antagonistic character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s The Incredible Hulk, Tim Roth transforms into Banner’s primary opposition. Unlike Jeff Bridges’ manipulative Iron Monger, Emil Blonsky is a physical force to be reckoned with, facing off against the hero who would become the strongest Avenger.

Roth does get his chance to tackle a rather unique Marvel bad guy, especially when considering the motivations of others like Iron Monger, Red Skill, Ronan or Loki. Instead of a quest for power and position, Blonsky craves to best his opponent. With his military background, he is trained to win, and he has no issues pumping volatile serums into his blood to come out on top.

Tim Roth is comfortable playing opposite the superhero and he relishes cracking some understated smirks to convey Blonsky’s gamesmanship. Sure, he remains deadly serious with his tactical procedures, yet taking down the Hulk is both a sport and his mission. And Roth emphatically energizes the feud, making all his scenes in The Incredible Hulk quite exhilarating.

Roth was more prevalent in the 1990s than in recent years; unfortunately, when he was at the top of his game he had starring or generally larger roles in several movies that don’t quite hold up well today. One of his more demanding performances is as Vincent van Gogh in Vincent and Theo, yet there are better biopics about the doomed artist; both Kirk Douglas and Willem Dafoe have been nominated for an Oscar for playing van Gogh. Also in the 90’s, peculiarity abounds in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern – Roth and co-star Gary Oldman are outrageous, however Oldman clearly stands out the most in the Shakespearean parody.

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Before The Incredible Hulk, Tim Roth had plenty of experience playing the bad guy. He was the ruthless and unlikeable villain in Rob Roy, where he raped and pillaged his way to his own Oscar nomination. Rob Roy unluckily came out the same year as Braveheart – they both feature a Scottish folk hero – and Rob Roy is rightfully overshadowed by the far superior William Wallace tale. He nabs another juicy role as mobster Dutch Schultz in Bill Duke’s Hoodlum; and with his deranged violent turn in the gangster film, again Roth rises above the material.

Roth had small part yet unforgettable part in Quentin Tarantino’s magnum opus, Pulp Fiction. As the eccentric criminal who is called Pumpkin by his unhinged girlfriend, Roth capably bookends one of the greatest films of the decade. And not too far behind Pulp Fiction is Tarantino’s breakout Reservoir Dogs, where Roth is more prominently featured and excels to greatness as the undercover cop infiltrating a gang of bank robbers. Landing the significant part in a film that is masterfully written and edited definitely pays off for the British actor.

Roth then goes on to star as the bellboy in Four Rooms, with Tarantino leading one of the four segments. The overwritten chapter doesn’t quite add up to the best work for either director or frequent collaborator Roth, yet the latter is still appealing and manages to liven up a few of the vignettes in Four Rooms. Decades later, Roth again teams with Tarantino in The Hateful Eight, and the reunion is clearly savored by Roth in a delightful supporting performance as one of the gang members, English Pete.

Also in the current decade, Roth’s malicious scowl has landed him in the Martin Luther King Jr. biopic Selma, where he plays a racist political adversary, Alabama Governor George Wallace. And one of Roth’s most touching and reflective work of late comes in the form of the Indie drama, Chronic, as a depressed caretaker of the terminally ill. Despite his knack for exquisite line delivery, in Chronic, one can read the emotional pain and melancholy from his face and eyes.

Tim Roth’s Top 10 Movie Roles

1. Mr. Orange in Reservoir Dogs
2. David in Chronic
3. Archibald Cunningham in Rob Roy
4. Vincent van Gogh in Vincent and Theo
5. Pumpkin in Pulp Fiction
6. Guildenstern in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
7. Dutch Shultz in Hoodlum
8. English Pete Hicox in The Hateful Eight
9. Ted in Four Rooms
10. George Wallace in Selma

Up against some of his more multi-dimensional portrayals, The Incredible Hulk is less challenging on Roth’s acting capabilities and more of a movie where he could simply have some fun working with the talents of Edward Norton and William Hurt.

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And although Blonsky/Abomination has only made the one appearance, we learn in “The Consultant” one-shot that Tony Stark was tasked with inquiring about Thunderbolt Ross’ openness to handing A-Bomb over to SHIELD for Avenger training. Coulson purposefully sent Stark to Ross because he thought letting the supervillain free was a bad idea and knew Stark’s arrogance would turn Ross off to the proposition. So even though that exchange ended with Blonsky still in custody, the possibility remains for the character to breakout and for Roth to rejoin the Marvel Cinematic Universe.