Thursday, August 11, 2016

Harry Dean Stanton in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

[Thanks to Ken Perlin for noticing that I had incorrectly attributed Emilio Estevez's role in Repo Man to his brother, Charlie Sheen.]

I was recently reviewing the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) body of work and in particular the problematic issue of The Avengers series of films when I came across a scene between a security guard and Mark Ruffalo who plays The Hulk in this movie.

The security guard is played by one of my favorite actors, Harry Dean Stanton, and suddenly the entire movie was seen in a new light.

I was introduced to Stanton's work in Alex Cox's Repo Man (1984), where he played the role of the experienced car repossession mentor, Bud. In particular the sequence where Stanton explains to Emilio Estevez (oldest son of Martin Sheen and brother of Charlie Sheen) the “Repo Code” is memorable.

BUD: Never broke into a car, never hot wired a car. Never broke into a trunk. “I shall not cause harm to any vehicle or the personal contents thereof, or through inaction allow the vehicle or the personal contents thereof come to harm. “ Thats what I call the “repo code”, kid. Don't forget it. Etch it into your brain. Not many people have a code to live by anymore. Hey look at them, look at those assholes over there. Ordinary fucking people, I hate em.
OTTO: Me too. 
BUD: What do you know? You see, an ordinary person spends his life avoiding tense situations. A repo man spends his life getting into tense situations. Assholes. Lets go get a drink.

The sequence can be seen here.

Mr Stanton has a cinematic term of art named in part for him. As defined by Roger Ebert, the “Stanton-Walsh Rule” states that
No movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad. An exception was CHATTAHOOCHEE (1990), starring Walsh. Stanton's record is still intact.

Returning now to The Avengers (2012) we have a sequence in which the Hulk has fallen from the sky, landed in an abandoned factory and transformed back into his human form as played by Mark Ruffalo. He is greeted by a security guard who reassures Ruffalo that he did not hurt anyone when he landed and has brought him some clothes. 

GUARD: Are you an alien?
GUARD: From outer space.... an alien?
GUARD: Well then, son, you've got a condition.
BANNER: (nods in agreement)

At the time that this scene was shot, Harry Dean Stanton must have been 81 or 82 years old.



The Avengers (2012) on IMDB

Repo Man (1984) at IMDB

Biography of Harry Dean Stanton by Roger Ebert

Harry Dean Stanton in Interview Magazine

M. Emmet Walsh in Wikipedia

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