Total Recall

11 Hidden Gems Starring the Justice League Cast

You may have caught the stars of DC's latest in one of these earlier films, even if you didn't realize it at the time.

by | November 15, 2017 | Comments

It’s taken them awhile to get here, with plenty of twists, turns, fits, and starts along the way. But this weekend, the DCEU finally brings its first Justice League team-up to theaters — and in honor of this momentous occasion, we’ve dedicated this feature to a look at some of the less well-known critical favorites from this star-studded ensemble’s assembled filmography. Unfortunately, not all League members have enough Fresh films to their credit to merit inclusion — get you next time, Jason Momoa and Ray Fisher — but even with those omissions, we think you’ll find the results suitably super. It’s time for Total Recall!


Gal GadotDate Night (2010) 67%

(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)

Ms. Gadot hasn’t made a ton of movies — before being handed the keys to Wonder Woman’s invisible jet, she was best known for playing a recurring supporting character in the Fast and Furious movies — so it’s a bit of a stretch to argue that her filmography has much in the way of “hidden gems.” But fans looking for a peek of the future Amazonian in her pre-stardom days can catch her brief appearance in Date Night, the 2010 Steve Carell/Tina Fey comedy about a workaday married couple whose plans for a night on the town go hilariously (and dangerously) awry. Popping up as the new girlfriend of the couple’s pal Brad (Mark Wahlberg), Gadot gets one of the movie’s more memorable (albeit cheapest) laughs with the heavily accented line, “You two make sex with us?”


Ben Affleck – Changing Lanes (2002) 77%

(Photo by Paramount Pictures)

It’s a little difficult to argue for anything truly being “hidden” in Ben Affleck’s filmography at this point, but if you’re looking for an acclaimed film that audiences failed to turn up for, you could  do worse than 2002’s Changing Lanes, a tension-filled drama about the war of attrition that erupts after a car accident involving a beleaguered insurance salesman (Samuel L. Jackson) and a lawyer (Affleck). Examining uncommonly thorny themes of race and privilege, wrapped up in good old-fashioned high-octane Hollywood thrills, Lanes wasn’t quite the box office smash it seemed poised to become, but in the fallow period that followed, it offered a reminder of Affleck’s gifts — and looking back, it also served as a prelude to some of the more thoughtful stuff he’d deliver in years to come.


Henry CavillI Capture the Castle (2003) 79%

(Photo by Samuel Goldwyn Films)

Cavill was a surprise choice when Warner Bros. picked him as the new face of the Superman franchise, but there’s no denying he looks the part — and as evidenced by his supporting role in this acclaimed adaptation of the 1948 Dodie Smith novel I Capture the Castle, that’s been the case long before he donned the cape and tights. As the good-hearted Stephen Colley, Cavill doesn’t have a ton to do other than moon over lead character Cassandra Mortmain (Romola Garai), but as an early look at his screen career, it’s interesting — and solid filmmaking besides, especially if your tastes run to period romance.


Amy AdamsJunebug (2005) 87%

(Photo by Sony Pictures Classics)
By 2005, Amy Adams had scored roles in a number of mainstream productions, including Serving Sara and The Wedding Date — but it wasn’t until she starred in a tiny $1 million indie film that people really understood what she could do. As the pregnant chatterbox Ashley Johnsten, Adams took what was technically a supporting part and walked away with Junebug, earning an Academy Award nomination in the process — and jumpstarting a career that she was close to walking away from prior to finally enjoying her breakout success.

Ezra MillerThe Stanford Prison Experiment (2015) 84%

(Photo by IFC Films / courtesy Everett Collection)

Miller’s only been making movies for a decade, but he’s already put together a résumé full of under-the-radar winners, including We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. If we have to pick just one hidden gem, however, we’re going with 2015’s Stanford Prison Experiment, in which Miller joined Billy Crudup and Michael Angalono as the leads in a harrowing dramatization of the titular psychology experiment, in which students were divided into “prisoners” and “guards” in an effort to see how quickly and thoroughly their social mores would break down. (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t pretty.) He’s clearly got the chops for big-budget fantasy and adventure, but if the roles in tights ever dry up, he’s clearly got nothing to worry about.


Amber HeardFriday Night Lights (2004) 81%

(Photo by Universal)

Before it was an acclaimed cult favorite on the TV dial, Friday Night Lights was a Buzz Bissinger non-fiction book about life on the Texas high school gridiron — and then it was a Peter Berg drama starring Billy Bob Thornton as a football coach with the weight of a small town’s hopes and dreams on his program’s shoulders. In hindsight, it seems awfully easy to say Lights was always destined to play out more powerfully on the small screen, but the film stands up pretty well on its own — and if you’re looking for an early glimpse of the DCEU’s future Mera, this version boasts the added bonus of having Amber Heard, making her film debut in a supporting role as Maria.


Jeremy IronsMargin Call (2011) 87%

(Photo by Walter Thomson/Roadside Attractions courtesy Everett Collection)

Margin Call, writer/director J.C. Chandor’s dramatized take on the financial crisis of 2007-08, managed to turn banking shenanigans into legitimately pulse-pounding drama. Mortgage securities and toxic assets might sound like awfully dry stuff for a movie, but in Chandor’s hands — and brought to life by a cast that included Irons as well as Paul Bettany, Demi Moore, and Stanley Tucci — it proved not just strikingly timely, but powerfully resonant. Plus, as discerning film fans are well aware, if your movie’s cast of characters includes an unscrupulous CEO and you cast Jeremy Irons in the role, you’ve already won half the battle.


Diane LaneTrumbo (2015) 74%

(Photo by Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/Bleecker Street Media courtesy Everett Collection)

A rare leading film role for Bryan Cranston, 2015’s Trumbo found the veteran character actor (and Breaking Bad star) playing the legendary screenwriter during and after his politically motivated fall from professional grace. Although certainly a star vehicle for its leading man, Trumbo wasn’t all about the writer’s professional travails; the story also focused on the impact of the scandal — and Trumbo’s reaction to it — on his relationship with his family, including his wife Cleo (Lane). Over the last several decades, Lane has more than proven her depth and range; with a gripping fact-based story and solid support from her co-star, Trumbo offered a compelling reminder.


Connie NielsenBrothers (2004) 89%

Subsequently remade for American audiences as a Jim Sheridan drama starring Natalie Portman as a woman torn between Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire, the 2004 Danish thriller Brødre didn’t make much of an impact in U.S. theaters during its arthouse run. It marked a turning point in Connie Nielsen’s career, however, earning her the equivalent of a Danish Best Actress Oscar and proving the accolades she’d earned for her appearance in Gladiator were far from a fluke. While she’s continued to work steadily in the years since, Brødre remains a consistently thrilling example of what she’s capable of when she’s asked to carry a movie — not to mention a sobering reminder that even if it looks like your spouse has been killed in battle, you may not want to take up with their sibling.


J.K. SimmonsThe Ref (1994) 72%

(Photo by Buena Vista)
Everyone’s favorite gruff uncle, J.K. Simmons honed his craft for years in a series of “that guy” roles before landing the part of J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies. He’s since become a dependable member of the Coen brothers’ stable of actors — and, of course, won a Best Supporting Oscar for his unforgettable performance in Whiplash — but all that really just scratches the surface of Simmons’ film career. In fact, for this feature, we’re going all the way back to his big-screen debut in 1994’s The Ref. His screen time, spent as a military commander being blackmailed by an unscrupulous student, only takes up a few minutes of one subplot in Denis Leary’s first film showcase, but it’s good for some laughs — and it proves the Simmons we love today has always been just as capable of commanding the camera.

Ciarán HindsMiss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008) 78%

(Photo by Focus Features courtesy Everett Collection)

This 2008 rom-com from director Bharat Nalluri (working from a David Magee/Simon Beaufoy screenplay adapted from Winifred Watson’s 1938 novel) follows the gently scandalous misadventures of a dowdy London governess (Frances McDormand) who copes with her sudden unemployment by stealing a former co-worker’s assignment to manage the social affairs of an American starlet (Justice League co-star Amy Adams). Every period romance needs a dashing gentleman, and Miss Pettigrew filled its quotient with Hinds’ Joe Blomfield, a lingerie designer who falls for our heroine after their paths cross at a high society fashion show.

Tag Cloud

green book TCA Mary Poppins Returns based on movie what to watch 24 frames Super Bowl Bravo WGN Awards YouTube Premium IFC Films 2017 Reality Podcast A&E Paramount Network Lifetime TV Land Universal Pixar BBC America social media crime drama crossover Toys Musicals award winner natural history animated TV Spring TV Epix Rock Valentine's Day Certified Fresh DirecTV cats Rocky casting DC Universe Nickelodeon science fiction Song of Ice and Fire Columbia Pictures Ovation TBS SundanceTV Disney Nat Geo Opinion psychological thriller sports Pirates spider-man docudrama zombies cooking Heroines Vudu teaser zero dark thirty disaster cinemax witnail Netflix VH1 Hulu Cosplay Star Trek Mudbound Election crime Rocketman History APB Freeform USA Action Apple Lucasfilm 2018 Adult Swim anthology zombie Quiz facebook mutant San Diego Comic-Con richard e. Grant Polls and Games Captain marvel police drama Infographic Animation ITV See It Skip It FX CW Seed blaxploitation Ellie Kemper Mary poppins boxoffice LGBTQ MCU ratings travel American Society of Cinematographers Shudder anime Lionsgate golden globes vampires 2015 National Geographic AMC Winners SDCC Kids & Family Fox News Trailer dramedy toy story Women's History Month Mary Tyler Moore Oscars jamie lee curtis E! Elton John miniseries Starz Watching Series harry potter Countdown television IFC dc Tumblr Star Wars Creative Arts Emmys Crackle PaleyFest Red Carpet CBS NBC YouTube Red Sony Pictures Set visit Tarantino finale cops TIFF GoT war Country dragons Cannes Logo DGA diversity E3 Esquire PBS Nominations game show Marathons Interview festivals TCM Musical spy thriller streaming Music discovery Film Festival historical drama Reality Competition dceu Pet Sematary Mindy Kaling politics adventure political drama TCA 2017 WarnerMedia Ghostbusters Martial Arts Food Network RT History CNN Schedule MSNBC Summer talk show TruTV Paramount Spectrum Originals robots CBS All Access Sundance Now Pride Month New York Comic Con thriller Christmas ABC MTV 20th Century Fox justice league YA RT21 crime thriller Emmys Horror Comedy Marvel Trivia El Rey Chernobyl TLC Sneak Peek sequel comiccon psycho Amazon Prime NYCC FXX President Photos Brie Larson Best and Worst period drama Holidays FOX composers The Arrangement biography Trophy Talk nature spinoff GIFs comic BET Comics on TV DC Comics adaptation cults OWN supernatural 45 SXSW true crime space binge Western Walt Disney Pictures medical drama CMT Britbox Spike 2016 Comic Book TNT Premiere Dates Winter TV Mystery Superheroe technology Drama First Look transformers Pop Sci-Fi Showtime GLAAD Extras Cartoon Network X-Men DC streaming service sitcom unscripted Warner Bros. Fantasy hist romance Box Office Rom-Com Superheroes Character Guide VICE ABC Family theme song Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Grammys Fall TV Thanksgiving 21st Century Fox Stephen King Anna Paquin ESPN Calendar BBC singing competition Acorn TV 2019 Biopics doctor who Tomatazos Masterpiece Video Games Disney Channel HBO Year in Review mockumentary strong female leads serial killer elevated horror Shondaland Sundance Writers Guild of America The CW Black Mirror aliens Syfy Amazon USA Network HBO Max Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Awards Tour Teen Comedy Central Emmy Nominations Dark Horse Comics The Witch LGBT 007