In Superman Returns, X-Men and The Notebook, James plays the perfectly adequate romantic partner who gets passed over for the hero. He always handles it well, even though he's been dumped for a man who is objectively better in every way. I mean: Wolverine. Superman. RYAN GOSLING. It's just not fair.
James Marsden's character, Richard, steps in when Superman abandons Lois Lane. In Superman's absence, Richard proposes to Lois and serves as a father figure to her son, but when the Man of Steel comes back, Richard is tossed aside. This is especially sad considering Richard helps Superman rescue Lois from Lex Luthor, which is incredibly brave of Richard since he's just an ordinary dude and Lex Luthor's a supervillain.
But how can you compete against an alien with superhuman abilities, one of which is the inexplicable ability to procreate across species?
James Marsden can't use his lack of superpowers as an excuse this time because he plays the mutant Cyclops. His powers are incredibly destructive eyes. Meaning he has to wear sunglasses all the time -- even indoors like a super-douche. His romantic rival, Wolverine, has the powers of super-strength and indestructibility and killer sideburns.
Guess who Jean Grey chooses. (Sorry, Cyclops, I'm gonna guess it had something to do with the sunglasses-on-even-during-sex thing.)
If you've seen this movie -- which you have don't even try to deny it (unless you have Alzheimer's and you forgot it but hey, it's okay because your soulmate will recount the entire thing for you) -- you know that the most heart-breaking part of the story is that Rachel McAdams is forced to choose between her amazing fiancee, James Marsden, and the love of her life, Ryan Gosling. It's so heart-breaking because she nearly knocks Marsden over when she runs out the door after Gosling.
So what is the logical role for the actor who always comes in second? He plays Liz Lemon's soulmate on 30 Rock! He plays a man who finds someone who loves him even though he isn't a specimen of genetic perfection.
It seems James Marsden believes in finding beauty and happiness in imperfection, and that's awesome.
Rachel McAdams has starred in three movies in four years in which she played the romantic partner of a time-travelin' man. Like, a ramblin' man. But with time travel.
Rachel McAdams plays a time traveler's wife in the movie whose straight-forward title puts it in the same category as Hot Tub Time Machine. The movie's central conflict is how Rachel's character deals with loving a man who appears and disappears throughout her life without warning. While she experiences their relationship linearly, he jumps around, having sex with her and then meeting their daughter and then meeting her as a young girl.
What do you say to the younger version of your wife: "Hi, it's nice to meet you, I will have sex with you one day. What's sex, you ask? Uhhhh, nevermind, byeeee!"
Rachel McAdams plays the girlfriend of a time traveler once again, but this time she doesn't struggle to cope with his time traveling ways. She doesn't mind his time traveling because she's too busy cheating on him. Oops, spoiler! Wow, never thought I'd do a spoiler warning on Dorkly for a Woody Allen movie.
At this point, Rachel McAdams has made it clear she has a type: she wants a man who can defy the laws of the universe, okay? Is that too much to ask? Rachel McAdams is once again wooed by a time traveler. He isn't very suave, but he doesn't have to be because he has infinite number of chances to seduce her.
Rachel, we get it. We all want to travel back in time to the early 2000's when Ryan Gosling and you were in love, so we totally understand your obsession with time travel.