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Danny Glover: Action Movie Star Opportunity Missed?

Danny Glover: Action Movie Star Opportunity Missed?

Riddle me this folks…

I rewatched “Predator 2,” after stumbling upon it while flipping through cable TV channels a couple of days ago; I’ve seen the movie a dozen times, but it never gets old. It’s not what I’d call award-winning material, but it’s a good genre flick that doesn’t pretend to be anything more.

I couldn’t find any info on its budget to compare to how much it made at the box office ($57 million cumulative worldwide gross, not adjusted for inflation), so I really can’t say how well it did well, financially. But I’m inclined to believe that it’s had a much more successful life on the home video market (DVD/VOD) than it did in theaters, even becoming something of a cult favorite with some.
It’s a straight-forward action/thriller that hits the ground running, and doesn’t really let up. It’s violent, bloody, comical, cheesy and entertaining.

Call it a guilty pleasure, despite the fact that it was mostly trashed by critics.

Although, like any other film, one could probably further analyze “Predator 2” and unveil layers of revelations that may not be immediately apparent on its surface. But I won’t do that here.

In watching it again earlier this week, it got me thinking… in all the conversations we’ve had about black male actors (past and present) who have had the potential to be action hero movie stars, why has Danny Glover’s name never come up?

He’s practically a maniac in “Predator 2.” Rough, tough, fearless, determined, and relentless as police Lieutenant Mike Harrigan, in an early nod to colorblind casting. He’s a black man, but the film doesn’t care (race is never a factor), and it really didn’t need to, given the kind of film it is. And he wins in the end. Though there’s no “girl” to get, as is often the case in movies of its ilk.

It wasn’t exactly common to see a black actor leading in a film like this at the time; Those were the years when Eddie Murphy was still da man, with 2 “Beverly Hills Cop” movies, and “48 Hours” on his resume; and Wesley Snipes wouldn’t make his action hero mark for another 2 years, with “Passenger 57.”  

It was also diverse in its casting, with Ruben Blades and Maria Conchita Alonso both playing prominent roles, alongside the maniacal Gary Busey, and Bill Paxton.

The movie (which was directed by Jamaica-born Stephen Hopkins) really isn’t much better nor worse than the first “Predator” flick, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wasn’t quite the major Hollywood player he would eventually become some years later – a fate that Glover never really got to enjoy.

In “Predator 2”, there’s even a scene in which Glover’s character is referred to by one of the other characters, as John Wayne – a name that’s become an adjective implying toughness, and a no-nonsense approach to whatever task is at hand.

Maybe Glover has never really fit Hollywood’s narrow definition of what “good looks” are; but tough guys like the aforementioned John Wayne, as well as Charles Bronson, Sylvester Stallone, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and others, weren’t exactly Hollywood pretty boys either. They were all tough guys who did what we expected tough guys to do in movies. Be tough, handling shit!

Plus, Glover had the size. The man stands at about 6ft 3inches tall, and back in the day, he wasn’t exactly skinny. He was 44 years old at the time “Predator 2” was made, by the way. And I’d say he was a more versatile actor than a lot of those other guys I mentioned above.

I imagine he could have done a few more of these genre action/thriller-type flicks after “Predator 2.”

It was actually nice to see him get out of Mel Gibson’s shadow after 2 “Lethal Weapon” movies back then. He even got his very own “Predator 2” action figure, as you can see above. 

Though Glover’s resume is full of mostly dramas, and he may not even have wanted to pursue a career as an action movie star, but, indulge me anyway… I wonder if there was an opportunity there for him to play action movie hero after “Predator 2.” I was still in high school at the time the film came out in 1990, and I don’t know what the behind-the-scenes story was with regards to the making of the film – as in why he was cast as the lead, what the expectations for the film were, etc… I couldn’t find much online.

So what do you guys think? Danny Glover, action movie star 25 years ago. Today, he’d probably be joining Stallone and all other “old tough guys” in movies like “The Expendables.” 

Trailer for “Predator” below…

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