I’ve come up with a few names for future Tom Hanks characters

Monday May 13th 2013

By now, we’re all pretty much up to speed with the fact that Tom Hanks is a nice man, which is perhaps why he rarely attempts to convince us otherwise on screen. In Captain Phillips, as in so many other Hanks vehicles, he’s basically just a stand-up guy at the mercy of factors beyond his control — in this case: lack of weaponry on-board freighter, Somali pirates, Paul Greengrass.

For a while it was quite endearing to see Hanks stick so rigidly to playing blameless protagonists. His career was a bit like the first season of Entourage: entirely devoid of jeopardy and all the more intoxicating for it. But like that show, Hanks’s schtick started to wear thin as the years went by, and by the time E got engaged at the end of Season 6 he wrote, directed and starred in the dramatic black hole that was Larry Crowne, it was no longer satisfying to watch him constantly do the right thing all the time.

Has a SINGLE engaging screen character EVER worn a rucksack?

The easiest way to chart the deterioration of Hanks’s on-screen energy is to examine the names of his characters. Where his 80s career gave us such sublime handles as Lawrence Whatley Bourne III, Sherman McCoy and Detective Pep Streebeck, recent years have yielded the featureless monikers Thomas Schell, Robert Langdon and — of course — cheery old Mr. Crowne up there.

So just in case Hollywood finds itself short of ideas in the coming months, here are a handful of additional roles that they’re welcome to cast Hanks in:

 Tim Mitchell

 Graham Sharewell

 Alex Hall

 Christopher Man

 James Prince

(James works in real estate.)

 Gregory ‘Greg’ Baker

 Peter Avery

 Joseph Smith

 William T. Brown