Paul Bettany is a dynamic English actor who completely transforms himself for any role, having first risen to prominence in A Knight’s Tale. With an illustrious and thrilling career spanning nearly thirty years, the charismatic performer has proven himself to be quite the force on both the screen and the stage. After gaining widespread recognition in the aforementioned Heath Ledger-led medieval comedy, Bettany went on to appear in films like A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code, and Legion.
He continued his takeover of Hollywood when he joined the MCU in 2008 as J.A.R.V.I.S., Iron Man’s voice assistant who ultimately went on to become the android Vision; Bettany would star in numerous installments in the lucrative franchise. He is set to reprise the character in the upcoming miniseries Vision Quest, a spin-off of the hit Disney+ series WandaVision. These are Paul Bettany’s 10 best movies, ranked by Rotten Tomatoes.
10 Avengers: Age of Ultron – 76%
The world’s most courageous and beloved protectors were back at it again in the 2015 superhero extravaganza Avengers: Age of Ultron, in which the fierce Marvel mega team faces off against the titular artificial intelligence (James Spader), a dangerous technology created by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), who is determined to see the demise of all humanity. The epic installment of the thrilling franchise was the first time Paul Bettany appeared as Vision, who was initially created by Ultron to serve as his physical vessel but was stolen by the Avengers and subsequently became J.A.R.V.I.S.’s body.
Avengers: Age of Ultron was a smash hit with both moviegoers and critics, raking in a whopping $1.4 billion and earning praise for its sensational action sequences, entertaining humor, and lively performances by its star-studded cast. Audiences also went on to award the exciting film with an A CinemaScore.
9 Uncle Frank – 77%
In the 2020 dramedy Uncle Frank, Bettany stars as a popular college professor who embarks on a road trip with his eighteen-year-old niece from New York City down to South Carolina to attend the funeral of his father, during which he is forced to face the intense emotional trauma he so desperately tried to escape. As Frank Bledsoe, his longtime partner Wally (Peter Macdissi), and his precocious niece Beth (Sophia Lillis) set out on their journey, Frank’s upbringing and complicated relationship with his father come to light, due to his sexuality and his parent’s hurtful disapproval.
Bettany and Lillis shine in their roles as the misunderstood family members, with critics raving about the actor and his dynamic portrayal of the eponymous character in the Emmy-nominated film. The Austin Chronicle wrote, “Uncle Frank revolves around Uncle Frank, and Bettany’s career-great performance as a man who knows where the gaps are in his life, and how much his whole relationship with his family is about holding his breath.”
8 Iron Man 3 – 79%
In Robert Downey Jr.’s third outing as the brilliant and cocky billionaire Tony Stark, the fan-favorite hero is struggling with the aftermath of the Avengers’ epic battle to save New York as the savvy inventor becomes more and more reliant on his wondrous suits and public persona. 2013’s Iron Man 3 follows Stark as he takes on a powerful terrorist known as the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), who targets every aspect of his life and wreaks havoc on the world, causing the brave champion to enlist the help of J.A.R.V.I.S. and Rhodey/Iron Patriot (Don Cheadle) to once again protect the planet.
Serving as the first movie in Phase 2 of the MCU, Iron Man 3 became the highest-grossing installment in the series and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects, while further establishing Stark as one of the franchise’s most important and celebrated characters.
7 Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World – 85%
Based on the Patrick O’Brian novel of the same name, the 2003 period war drama Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World stars Russell Crowe as the brazen naval officer Jack Aubrey, who alongside his most trusted confidante and ship surgeon Stephen Maturin (Bettany) set out to capture a crucial French vessel while onboard the H.M.S. Surprise during the Napoleonic Wars. The adaptation draws upon three of O’Brian’s books, with its primary plot reflecting that of The Far Side of the World, and it became the first non-documentary film to be shot on location in the Galápagos Islands.
The thrilling epic marks the second collaboration between Crowe and Bettany on the big screen, with the talented actors having previously appeared together in 2001’s A Beautiful Mind. The breathtaking drama went on to win two Academy Awards including Best Cinematography, and Bettany received a British Academy Film Award nomination for his performance as Maturin. A prequel is currently in development.
6 Avengers: Infinity War – 85%
Marvel fans all across the world flocked to movie theaters to witness their favorite heroes once again assemble and protect the world from Thanos in the 2018 big-screen knockout Avengers: Infinity War, which centers on the alien warlord and supervillain (Josh Brolin) as he attempts to gather all six of the mighty Infinity Stones, which would lead to the destruction and death of half the universe. The Avengers team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy in their profound efforts to stop Thanos, with the fate of the planet resting solely on their soldiers.
Avengers: Infinity War was one of the most expensive films ever made, with an estimated budget of around $325-400 million, and it unsurprisingly went on to dominate the box office and earn over $2 billion worldwide; it became to first superhero flick to do so in cinematic history. Praised for its emotionally-driven storylines, dynamite blending of Marvel characters, and jaw-dropping ending, Infinity War set the stage for its concluding sequel, Avengers: Endgame.
5 Margin Call – 87%
Chronicling the lead-up to the 2007-2008 financial crisis through the eyes of a group of employees at a Wall Street investment bank, the 2011 drama Margin Call depicts the frantic efforts of the colleagues as they discover their firm is heading toward disaster and ruin, so they set out to try and not only provide damage control but also save their own jobs amid the turmoil. With a dynamic ensemble cast led by Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Paul Bettany, and Demi Moore, the picture captured the terror and hysteria that ensued in the days following the Global Financial Crisis.
Margin Call had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, where it received critical acclaim for its taut screenplay and commanding performances by its talented cast. The drama was declared by The New Yorker as “easily the best Wall Street movie ever made” and went on to earn an Oscar nod for Best Original Screenplay.
4 Captain America: Civil War – 90%
Captain America and Iron Man faced off in spectacular fashion in the 2016 superhero flick Captain America: Civil War, which focuses on the feuding Avengers as they find themselves on opposing sides after disagreeing over how to best handle their international oversight, resulting in the fierce characters splitting into two warring factions.
Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) believes superheroes should be free to protect society without any interference by the government, while Tony Stark believes oversight is key to remaining balanced; the dueling men enlist the help of familiar faces like Black Widow, Vision, and Hawkeye to duke it out.
Director Anthony Russo described Captain America’s transformation in the film as going from “the most ra-ra company man” to someone who is “a somewhat willing propagandist,” an intriguing character shift that forever altered his relationship with Stark. Civil War also explores Vision as he attempts to find his place among the group, with Bettany saying, “You see my character get born… He must be both omnipotent and yet totally naive at the same time. And experiencing the world in real time and his place in it. Is he going to be a force of good or a force of evil?”
3 The Avengers – 91%
In the epic first film that kicked off the Marvel super group’s takeover of the cinema, 2012’s The Avengers brings together some of the franchise’s most iconic characters like Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and the Hulk as they are recruited by Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. to stop the powerful God of Thunder’s cunning brother Loki from conquering the world.
The wildly entertaining blockbuster features the talents of stars like Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johannson, Tom Hiddleston, and Robert Downey Jr. (among countless others), and became the first Marvel production to amass over $1 billion in ticket sales.
Bettany once again voices Iron Man’s right hand-assistant J.A.R.V.I.S., and The Avengers went on to debut to major fanfare and was named one of the greatest movies of all time by Empire magazine while leading to three lucrative, highly-anticipated sequels. The spellbinding picture led to audiences all across the globe falling in love with the charming characters, sparking superhero mania that hasn’t slowed down a bit in more than a decade since its release.
2 Journey’s End – 91%
Based on R.C. Sherriff’s play of the same name, the 2017 war drama Journey’s End centers on a group of British officers in the trenches in Northern France during World War I, as they anxiously await the outcome of the battle while attempting to keep their wits on the front lines. Bettany appears as Lieutenant “Uncle” Osborne, the group’s kind and compassionate second-in-command who finds himself questioning their weary alcoholic Captain Stanhope (Sam Claflin) as German forces close in on their location.
Serving as the fifth big screen adaptation of Sherriff’s engrossing play, Journey’s End garnered major appreciation from critics for its pulse-pounding action, sharp screenplay, and impressive performances by Bettany, Claflin, and Asa Butterfield. Empire Magazine wrote in their review, “An outstanding cast savours performing a play that has stood the test of time. Avoiding sentimentality, this is a valuable rejoinder to those who would sugar-coat mass slaughter.”
1 Iron Man – 94%
Robert Downey Jr. famously teamed up with Jon Favreau to reintroduce the world to the iconic eponymous Marvel character in the 2008 smash hit Iron Man, which features the charismatic actor as the arrogant businessman and inventor Tony Stark, who after being kidnapped by a group of terrorists and rescued, has an electromagnet implanted in his chest to help keep him alive. Following the harrowing experience, Stark builds a state-of-the-art suit to fight terrorism and crime across the world.
Iron Man featured the additional talent of stars like Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, and Paul Bettany, and was the first film in Phase 1 of the MCU that would help establish the media franchise’s popularity and box office draw. Downey’s unparalleled performance as Stark as well as its spellbinding visual effects and exciting storyline helped make it a slam dunk with both critics and audiences, and it was named one of the ten best films of the year by the American Film Institute.