By Jeff Labrecque
Updated April 17, 2012 at 08:37 PM EDT
Credit: Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

Liam and Chris Hemsworth are on the verge of something improbable, if not unprecedented. Not only did both brothers hit the genetic lottery, but both are essential components of studio franchises that will dominate the box office this year. Liam, 22, laid the foundation for his character, Gale, in The Hunger Games, and has a role in the upcoming AARP action film, Expendables 2. Chris, 28, is, literally, a Norse god, playing Thor again in The Avengers, as well as the Huntsman in the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman.

What makes the Hemsworths’ success so unusual is that it contradicts one of the quirky unwritten laws of Hollywood stardom, which seems to predicate that when brothers experience renown in the movie business, one of them absorbs the celebrity and enormous success while the other operates in the shadows. Jeff and Beau Bridges. Matt and Kevin Dillon. Alec and Every Other Baldwin. (In a way, it’s not unlike Sith lords.)

It seems to be different for siblings of the opposite sex — Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine — and even sisters like the Redgraves. Perhaps it’s because once one brother becomes a “name” and personality, the other is handicapped by association and a too-similar persona. (Though being Oscar nominee Randy Quaid’s brother didn’t seem to hinder Dennis.) Since the Hemsworths are arriving at around the same time, we’ll see which emerges as the Alpha Aussie. The brothers both have stardom written all over them, so maybe they’re the exception to the rule? Or like the Wilson brothers — who once seemed equally poised for success, albeit in comedies — will they establish their Down Under version of an Owen/Luke pecking order?

Brothers have been known to coexist professionally (Casey Affleck has the Oscar nom for acting, not Ben) but do you think there’s anything to this unwritten sibling-rivalry law? And if so, which Hemsworth do you think will prevail in the long run?

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Snow White and the Huntsman

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