The Case For Cobie Smulders in The Avengers (Among Other Blockbusters)
The further away I get from the news that Henry Cavill was cast as Superman, the more I appreciate the Warner Bros. decision. Not because it proves there is some silly conspiracy to hire foreign-born actors to play American icons; rather, because Warner Bros. saved everyone from having to follow along with the endless wheel-spinning short lists that usually accompany the casting of most franchise blockbusters nowadays. (See: the Warner Bros. hunt for Lois Lane as reference.) Still, if we're going to be subjected to another short list, at least it can include names like Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Morena Baccarin and Cobie Smulders. All three actresses are reportedly up for the role of Nick Fury's sidekick The Avengers, which got me to thinking: Why isn't Cobie Smulders more famous?
I know: Because she's on a silly sit-com that has a laugh track. But, look at the talent on How I Met Your Mother! Jason Segel and Neil Patrick Harris are beloved A-listers; Josh Radnor is hoping to become the next
Woody Allen Zach Braff; and Alyson Hannigan -- well, she'll always have Buffy the Vampire Slayer and band camp. That Smulders not only holds her own against those varying talents, but offers up a fairly original brand of tough-but-silly tomboy charm is something that should be lauded and noticed. After all, she's doing Cameron Diaz in There's Something About Mary but with more depth and humanity. If only Smulders co-starred in No Strings Attached instead of Natalie Portman, maybe it would have been halfway decent.
To be fair, it's not like Smulders is dying off like a star. She'll turn 29 this spring, and even if How I Met Your Mother goes on for a few more seasons, she'll be in fairly decent shape to have a film career after her sit-com commitments come to an end; the aforementioned Portman is one year older than Smulders, and she's only now becoming a viable movie star. Based solely on her birth certificate, Smulders can be mentioned in the same breath as the usual list of actresses who are always mentioned for everything for years to come.
(That's not to compare the careers of Smulders to Portman -- the future Best Actress winner has been making films since she was a kid -- but just to remind you that Smulders' window for some big screen success is still open.)
Of course, therein lies the rub: How does Smulders actually make the leap from the fifth most important member of How I Met Your Mother to a franchise film like The Avengers. Well, perhaps because Joss Whedon is directing. If you read that short list and immediately assumed Baccarin would be cast as the female sidekick, you're probably not alone. Whedon basically invented the actress during Firefly, and she's got plenty of geek bona fides thanks to that show and V. Basically, Baccarin in a Marvel movie is like a Comic-Con attendee's wet dream come to life. However! Let's not forget who Whedon himself wanted for Wonder Woman back in 2007 -- when one of the numerous attempts at a Wonder Woman film crashed and burned: Cobie Smulders. If Whedon was hip to her superhero potential four years ago, why wouldn't he be now? And following that thread line: If Whedon was hip to her superhero potential four years ago, why has it taken studios so long to realize it as well? It's not like How I Met Your Mother airs on Starz.
All of which is to say: Let's do this! Start a Facebook campaign, call your local congressman, send flowers -- do whatever you have to do, but help Cobie Smulders get her shot. (Even if that shot is as the ninth lead in The Avengers.) It'll be a start, and it hopefully will lead to bigger things. (Cobie for Lois Lane, anyone?) Better late than never.