Ryan Gosling’s Brief Encounter With Superheroism: The Unbelievables

Explore Ryan Gosling’s Early Career And His Venture Into The Superhero Genre In The Television Movie “The Unbelievables.”

By Akshay Sharma
July 9,2023
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Ryan Gosling, a name that resonates with talent, charm, and versatility, has carved a prominent place for himself in Hollywood. Known for his captivating performances in movies like “La La Land,” “Drive,” and “The Notebook,” Gosling has established himself as a sought-after actor in the industry. However, amidst his illustrious career, there exists a lesser-known chapter that involves his portrayal of a superhero. In this article, we delve into the early days of Gosling’s career and explore his brief encounter with the superhero genre in the television movie, “The Unbelievables.”

The Unbelievables: Gosling’s Brush With Superheroism

The Unbelievables

In 1999, a young Ryan Gosling, approximately 18 years old at the time, stepped into the realm of superheroes in the nearly-forgotten television movie, “The Unbelievables.” The 23-minute short film, functioning as a quasi-pilot, introduced viewers to a retired squad of blue-collar crime-fighting superheroes known as the Unbelievables. Picture a scenario where the Avengers or the Justice League retire from saving the world, settle in the suburbs, start families, and convene for a monthly poker night—that’s the essence of this unique concept.

Gosling took on the role of Josh, the teenage son of Action Armstrong (played by Corbin Bernsen), a pivotal member of the superhero team. Although Josh possessed his own set of powers, he often squandered them on trivial pursuits, such as attempting a basketball slam dunk using his flying abilities. While “The Unbelievables” may not have left a lasting impact, it remains Gosling’s only foray into the superhero genre.

A Parody Of Superhero Tropes

ryan gosling

“The Unbelievables” arrived on the scene a few years before Pixar’s iconic “The Incredibles” revolutionized the superhero genre. However, this short film took a slightly different approach—a satirical parody of superhero tropes. Unlike “Watchmen,” which explored the retirement of superheroes with emotional depth, “The Unbelievables” merely treated it as a matter of fact. The film’s focus rested on mocking the conventions of the genre.

The script, written and directed by Ed Solomon (known for his work on “Bill & Ted” and “Men in Black”), incorporated jokes about spandex and ill-fitting uniforms. Action Armstrong, portrayed as an aged superhero, comically sifted through his attic, contemplating whether to donate his memorabilia, including his skimpy and outdated spandex tights. The film also played on the idea of Josh’s clumsiness in harnessing his powers, as evident in the comical basketball dunk scene.

“The Unbelievables” primarily centered on middle-aged ex-heroes utilizing their powers for mundane daily tasks. The concept had the potential to pave new ground for a superhero sitcom. However, the short runtime restricted the series from finding its voice and developing beyond the pilot stage. Despite its potential, fate did not allow “The Unbelievables” to earn a place among the memorable superhero comedies that emerged in the 21st century.

The Unforgettable Villains

Tim Curry and Steve Carell

While “The Unbelievables” may not have left a lasting impression as a whole, it featured two standout performances from Tim Curry and Steve Carell. Curry portrayed Vaudevillain, the retired supervillain, with his signature theatricality, bringing a cartoonish villain to life. His exaggerated eye rolls and booming enunciation reminiscent of Dr. Frankenfurter captivated viewers.

Carell, still in the early stages of his comedy career, showcased his comedic talent as Hershel, Vaudevillain’s loyal henchman. Carell’s generic, over-the-top New York-accented portrayal of the comical bad guy was endearing and highlighted his gift for character immersion. The chemistry between Curry and Carell proved to be the shining moments of the short film, overshadowing other aspects, including Gosling’s performance.

Gosling’s Fortunate Breakthrough

ryan gosling

Though “The Unbelievables” failed to take off, it may have inadvertently opened the door for Ryan Gosling’s fortunate breakthrough in the world of cinema. A couple of years later, Gosling secured a role in the critically acclaimed movie “The Believer.” Portraying an ultraviolet neo-Nazi, he showcased his dramatic prowess and demanded attention with every scene he appeared in. This breakthrough role allowed Gosling to break free from the confines of being typecast in comedic roles, which a long-term sitcom engagement might have resulted in.

Gosling’s career skyrocketed after “The Believer,” and he went on to capture hearts worldwide with his leading role in “The Notebook” just three years later. By venturing into a diverse range of characters and genres, Gosling solidified his position as a versatile actor capable of delivering compelling performances.

Conclusion: A Cult Favorite Lost To Time

ryan gosling

“The Unbelievables” remains a time capsule of an era when a superhero sitcom appeared as a novel idea. It presented audiences with the comedic talents of Tim Curry and Steve Carell and offered a glimpse of Ryan Gosling’s natural comedic flair. While the short film showcased potential, its untapped possibilities were buried with its limited exposure. Had “The Unbelievables” been given the opportunity to evolve into a series, it might have found a dedicated cult following. Instead, it serves as a reminder of what could have been—a sitcom hidden among dusty DVD sets on the shelves of collectors.

Ryan Gosling’s journey in the world of entertainment has continued to evolve, and he has solidified his position as a respected actor in the industry. While his encounter with the superhero genre may have been brief, it was a stepping stone in his path to success. As audiences eagerly await Gosling’s future projects, it’s clear that his versatility and talent will continue to captivate and enthrall viewers for years to come.

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