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Best Brendan Fraser Films to Watch After Batgirl's Cancellation

CBR logo CBR 8/9/2022 Robert Vaux
© Provided by CBR

Among the fallout from Warner Bros.' inexplicable decision to drop the new Batgirl movie in favor of another quixotic effort to reboot its superhero line was a highly anticipated performance from Brendan Fraser. The veteran actor endeared himself to DC fans with his portrayal of Cliff Steel on Doom Patrol, and in Firefly, had the chance to deliver a significant villain who hasn't seen much live-action screen time before now. Sadly, his performance might be lost along with the rest of the movie.

Fraser fans looking to console themselves have a long list of projects to choose from. The actor's career stretches back over 30 years and includes a wide array of genres and material. He's delivered something for everyone along the way. Here's a list of seven of the most interesting, with an eye on his range or on films with a special significance to his career.

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Encino Man Was Brendan Fraser's First Breakout Hit

1992's Encino Man is a guilty pleasure to be sure: a cheerfully stupid movie that never worries about hiding its stupidity. Though cursed with an excess of Pauly Shore and unabashedly a product of its time, it has amassed a cult following in part due to Fraser's lead performance as a caveman unfrozen by a pair of SoCal teenagers. It has the advantage of being largely harmless, and Fraser's physical comedy -- along with some surprisingly sweet moments with the rest of the cast -- makes the case for its brand of good fun.

School Ties Showed Off Fraser's Dramatic Ability

The same year as Encino Man, Fraser starred in a historical drama about a Jewish football player in the 1950s forced to hide his identity in order to play for a prestigious academy. In and of itself, it's reasonably boilerplate, though it does a good job of demonstrating the casual nature of prejudice and the damage inflicted when minorities are forced to mask. As with Encino Man, Fraser's performance brings it all together, placing the audience firmly in his corner while conveying the toll it's taking on his character bit by bit.

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George of the Jungle Spawned an Odd Franchise for Brendan Fraser

Pratfalls and physical comedy come easily to Fraser, which is part of what makes his Robotman so appealing. That tendency reached what could be described as its apex in George of the Jungle, a late '90s goof-fest based on the short-lived Jay Ward cartoon of the mid-1960s. It proved a hit for the same reasons Encino Man did -- Fraser is very funny being hit on the head -- and led to him tackling a second Jay Ward character a few years later. Dudley Do-Right didn't do nearly as well as George of the Jungle, but it similarly showcased how entertaining he could be even if the material wasn't high art.

Gods and Monsters Gave Fraser His Best Performance

1998's Gods and Monsters was a tour de force for Sir Ian McKellen, playing Frankenstein director James Whale in the final years of his life. It earned him an Oscar nomination and set the stage for subsequent superstardom as Magneto and Gandalf. Lost in the buzz was an equally strong performance from Fraser. He plays Whale's fictional groundskeeper who becomes the director's stand-in for his monster and a strangely sympathetic friend to a gay man in a time when homophobia was rampant. The actor's warmth and compassion fill in the links between the two characters beautifully and give McKellen a rock-solid partner to perform against.

RELATED: Batgirl Star Leslie Grace Posts 'Battle Damaged' Pics From the Canceled Film

Blast from the Past Is Fraser at His Most Charming

Fraser routinely evinced an eye for offbeat projects. They didn't always work out -- 2001's Monkeybone was a misfire -- but 1999's Blast from the Past turned up aces. He plays the child of a paranoid scientist who spent the first 35 years of his life locked in a bomb shelter thinking the world had ended. Growing up on a steady diet of Perry Como and I Love Lucy reruns doesn't prepare him for the modern world when he emerges, though he quickly finds a helpful collectibles dealer to fall for. The fish-out-of-water gags are par for the course for Fraser, but the scenes with his parents -- played by Christopher Walken and Sissy Spacek -- are priceless, and his earnest compassion makes the love story an easy sell.

The Mummy Made Fraser an Action Star

No other film on Fraser's resume has the enduring appeal of The Mummy series, which not only cemented him as an action star but made his character an accidental heir apparent to Indiana Jones. The project's connection to Universal's famous horror line gave it some distinction, as did a strong cast who understood their assignments perfectly. But Fraser, again, was the straw that stirred the drink and, alongside costar Rachel Weisz, brought the same sense of swashbucklery as Harrison Ford's famous archaeologist. It proved a durable combination, launching a successful franchise and ultimately becoming a classic in its own right

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The Quiet American Put Fraser Alongside Another Living Legend

As with Gods and Monsters, Fraser found himself playing opposite a living legend, in this case, Michael Caine, who received an Oscar nomination for his cynical British journalist covering the beginnings of the Vietnam War. Caine finds himself in a friendly rivalry with the title character, played by Fraser, over the affections of a local woman. It gave the younger actor a chance to turn his friendliness and charm into a more sinister figure, as well as -- again -- providing a figure like Caine with a solid co-lead to work with. It speaks to a performer who puts the project before his ego and lets his work take care of itself.

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