The Irish film & television media has gone into overdrive in the last few days with the news that Tom Vaughan-Lawlor aka Nidge in the much adored Love/Hate series has apparently landed a role in Avengers: Infinity War!
Sure, we’re a little bit behind the curve compared to some of our compatriots but we also want to discuss some potential caveats to the news because we don’t want to anyone to get too excited in case any of what follows turns out to be true!
Many of the original reports cited set shots from JustJared.com showing a man in a Mo-Cap suit in combat (and seemingly winning) against Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange. Though the shots are probably not in any particular order, they do seem to show mysterious Mo-Cap man laying Stephen Strange right out. It was the release of these shots that caused the speculation that Lawlor was the mystery man in the Mo-Cap suit however being a total cynic I still wasn’t *FULLY* convinced..
Upon taking a look at the set shots along side other shots of Lawlor from other projects like Love/Hate it looks like it sure as heck is the Nidge-Weasel taking on Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme! This is a fantastic breakthrough for an actor who is immensely talented and widely adored here in Ireland… It does open the doors to a few more questions and possibilities.
The biggest question is who is this mystery Mo-Cap character, and this is again answered in the JustJared set photos with a label saying “EB MAW” on the shoulder of the actor looming over Benedict Cumberbatch. This points us to Ebony Maw, one of Thanos’ gang of henchmen, The Black Order. Along with Black Dwarf, Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight & Supergiant, Maw rounds out the team of thugs that works the Mad Titan’s bidding around the Marvel Universe and generally death and destruction follow. Ebony Maw himself specialises in persuasion, has a genius level intelligence and also comes equipped with a dandy teleportation device and force field generator. Given the similarity to Doctor Strange’s Sling Ring it would make sense to pair him with Ebony Maw when the Avengers take on the Black Order.
There are still a few buts to what is overall great news for an Irish actor. There will be many more casual movie goers/Love/Hate fans perhaps expecting to see Lawlor front and centre, and some reports kind of hint as such (another called Thanos Thamon, but let’s not split hairs too much…) – but as one of Thanos’ henchman we should expect no more than a significant support role at best. Marvel doesn’t have the best history with their villains, especially those of a secondary nature. Although Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 & Spider-Man: Homecoming have seen them turn a bit of a corner, there is history there to show that any appearance by Ebony Maw may be very short-lived before he gets obliterated by an Avenger. Best case scenario, he has a vital role in betraying Thanos (as happened in the Black Order’s first comic arc) and escapes to cause havoc across the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe cosmic branch of happenings.
Another possible scenario is that Tom Vaughan-Lawlor may be doing Mo-Cap work only while somebody else steps in to do the voice work for the character. This is something that is not uncommon in Marvel Studio’s works. Sean Gunn has provided the Mo-Cap work for Rocket Raccoon in both Guardians of the Galaxy films while Bradley Cooper provides the voice of Rocket. Similar for Groot, Vin Diesel provides the voice talent for everyone’s favourite anthropomorphic tree while others have filled in for the Mo-Cap work including director James Gunn himself! While it would be sad if Lawlor’s role was reduced to Mo-Cap work only, it’s still a great gig to get considering how vital this type of work is to the blockbuster industry since Andy Serkis & Lord of the Rings changed the game a bit with Gollum. Sometimes you just need to get that one break before getting bigger roles!
We still don’t have any official confirmation that it is Tom Vaughan Lawlor in that Mo-Cap suit and the Infinity War IMDB page has no indication, but at this point in time we have more reason to believe it is than isn’t. Given that it has been a few days since the news broke and there has been no denial from Marvel (although they may not be overly concerned when it isn’t an A-List character) or from Lawlor himself – sometimes silence speaks louder than words.
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