Ray Winstone says he threatened to quit ‘soul-destroying’ Marvel movie: ‘Like being kicked in the balls’

Ray Winstone has said that his experience on a Marvel film became so “soul-destroying” that he threatened to quit.

The British star is the latest actor to share his candid views on the comic book movie studio, following in the footsteps of Christian Bale and Anthony Hopkins, who both spoke out against their experience after appearing in the Thor franchise.

Winstone played the villain in 2021 film Black Widow, a prequel focused on Scarlett Johansson’s character, alongside Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz and David Harbour.

The actor, who will next be seen in Netflix series The Gentlemen, said that his initial experience on the film, directed by Cate Shortland, “was fine”, but that antipathy seeped in when it came to doing reshoots.

As well as speaking to The Independent ahead of the release of new Netflix series The Gentlemen, Winstone spoke to Radio Times about why he struggled with the Black Widow reshoots.

“You find out that a few producers have come down, and your performance is too much, it’s too strong,” he said of the meddling of outside forces.

“That’s the way Marvel works,” he added, saying “it can be soul-destroying” as you “feel like you’re doing great work”.

He disliked this aspect of the shoot so much that he threatened to quit, but that he had no choice but to see it through due to contractual obligations.

“I actually said, ‘You ought to recast it,’ because that was it for me. And you end up doing it again because you’re contracted to do it. Otherwise you end up in court. It’s like being kicked in the balls.”

Bale previously described the green-screen work required for his time in Thor: Love & Thunder (2022) as “monotony”.

Ray Winstone and Scarlett Johansson in ‘Black Widow’ (Marvel Studios)
Ray Winstone and Scarlett Johansson in ‘Black Widow’ (Marvel Studios)

He acknowledged that “good people” work on the films, but told GQ: “Can you differentiate one day from the next? No. Absolutely not. You have no idea what to do. I couldn’t even differentiate one stage from the next.”

Meanwhile, Hopkins said there was “no acting required” when he played Odin in the Thor franchise. However, Angela Bassett, who achieved an Oscar nomination for her role in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, defended the studio from such criticism, saying she was “sorry” Hopkins felt that way.

Winstone’s latest comments come years after director Martin Scorsese made headlines after declaring Marvel films were “not cinema”.

The director told Empire magazine he had tried watching superhero flicks, but decided they’re not for him.

He said: “I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema. Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks.

Christian Bale as Gorr in ‘Thor: Love and Thunder' (Marvel Studios)
Christian Bale as Gorr in ‘Thor: Love and Thunder' (Marvel Studios)

“It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

At the time, Scorsese’s comments ruffled feathers, with many associated with Marvel projects – including Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi and late Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman – expressing their disagreement.