CASTING FOR COMIC BOOK MOVIES: 12 Actors And Their Perfect Comic Book Movie Roles.
I know, I know. Writing about 12 Philosophical Shots in Terrence Malick’s cinema, reviewing an Iranian black and white vampire film, and now talking about potential comic book roles. My “voice” echoes all over the place and I’m a total cinematic inbetweener. That’s me! I love my arthouse stuff as much as I love to think about all the potential, untapped, comic book material out there still waiting to be exploited by Hollywood. (Well, OK, I love my arthouse stuff more). This newest Grapevine article is all about the mainstream casting director freak in me, though, looking at potential actors who would fit perfectly into a comic book setting, but weirdly haven’t been cast in any comic book role as of yet.
So, we’ve all heard how Benedict Cumberbatch officially signed on for Marvel’s “Doctor Strange,” and how the cast of “Suicide Squad” is ballistic. Given the level of dominance the comic book movie has had ever since Bryan Singer‘s “X-Men,” it’s only natural that every actor considers – or is considered for – comic book roles. Come to think of it, these days it’s more surprising to hear that a popular actor hasn’t been in a comic book movie or TV show yet. Well, say hello to this article.
Whether they’ve never lost their popularity, or they’re trying to regain it, here’s a group of well-established actors who have the experience and the eccentricity, but not a single comic book character between them. For fans of the genre, here’s the good news; comic books and graphic novels (for the purposes of this article, the term comic book bundles both) have plenty of untapped material still left to be explored, and not just in the standard Marvel and DC superhero stories we’re all so familiar with.
In light of the Cumberbatch and “Suicide Squad”casting news, and in an effort to look ahead at future adaptations that can provide something more than just pretty special effects and superhero worship, this article is going to match up 12 actors with his or her perfect comic book character, yet to be seen in live-action form.
Russell Brand as The Beyonder in “Secret Wars”
Foulmouthed Russell Brand was a stand-up comedian in Britain before he burst into popularity as host of “Big Brother’s Big Mouth” in 2007. He went on to steal the show as Aldous Snow in 2008’s “Forgetting Sarah Marshall;” a character so popular that it spun off into a solo movie, 2010’s “Get Him to the Greek.” While Brand is not the biggest box office draw – the reason he’s first out the gates here – he looks, talks, and acts like he stepped out of a comic book panel, so the fact that he still didn’t appear in any adaptation is genuinely surprising. Besides, Robert Downey Jr. wasn’t a box office draw before “Iron Man,” and look what happened with that.
His Perfect Role: The role of The Beyonder, an omnipotent entity that can literally create or destroy universes, would be perfect for someone like Brand, if he wanted to re-emerge into the spotlight. With Marvel not putting the brakes and taking a sharper turn towards comedy with this year’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” it’s turning into a perfect time to introduce a villain so ridiculously powerful – almost to the point of parody – as The Beyonder. Also, he is described as “the sum total of a parallel reality” which is a good way to describe Russell Brand as well.
Eddie Murphy as Angstrom Levy in “Invincible”
Eddie Murphy is another comedian who has declined in popularity thanks to his tastelessly childish films like the “Nutty Professor” series, and the 2002 box office bomb “The Adventures of Pluto Nash.” While he hasn’t been enjoying the kind of popularity he had in the 80s and early 90s, Murphy is returning to his roots to get his mojo back, with the announced “Beverly Hills Cop” sequel. But to be honest, if he wants to become relevant and connect with the youth today – the only thing he has to do is find the perfect comic book role.
His Perfect Role: That would be Angstrom Levy, a super-villainous role from the mind of “Walking Dead” scribe Robert Kirkman. In the “Invincible” comics, Levy’s power is to open portals to alternate realities. At one point he makes contact with alternate versions of himself, in order to find a way to travel more safely from one reality to the next. After his plan is thwarted, and he becomes horribly disfigured in the process, Levy vows revenge on Invincible and his whole family. This is exactly the kind of role Eddie Murphy should be thinking about if he wants people to remember how much of a talent he really is. Plus, he gets to play multiple versions of himself in the same film. IT’S PERFECT!
Winona Ryder as Snow White in “Fables”
For a talented actress – and a major star in the 90s – to disappear into obscurity because of an incident like shoplifting is more an example of media sensationalism than anything else. However, Winona Ryder has started to emerge in films again, most notably as Spock’s mother in 2009’s “Star Trek” and the deranged aging ballerina in 2010’s “Black Swan.” She’s been in Tim Burton movies and in a Philip K. Dick adaptation, yet somehow she managed to bypass comics. For a genre known to revive actors from cultural obscurity (see: Robert Downey Jr., Wesley Snipes and Nicolas Cage) it’s the perfect avenue for Ryder to explore.
Her Perfect Role: As a comic book series that has a legion of fans panting for an adaptation, Bill Willingham‘s “Fables” would probably fit best as a television show thanks to its massive scope. The premise for the series sees various folklore characters from the most popular fairytales (Disney, Hans Christian Andersen, etc.) trying to survive as a race in an altered version of New York City, and one of the major characters is Snow White. At 42, Ryder still looks effervescently youthful and, with the help of her uncanny resemblance, she would seamlessly fit Snow. Starring as Snow White would be to Ryder’s career what starring in Fables was to Snow White’s status; a rejuvenating reinvention
Adrien Brody as Marko in “Saga”
Ever since he surprised everyone by knocking out both Jack Nicholson and Daniel Day-Lewis for an Oscar in 2002, Adrien Brody‘s career hasn’t taken off as much as some may have thought it would. His most notable roles have been in Wes Anderson’s films like 2007’s “Darjeeling Limited” and this year’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and he’s had lead roles in 2010’s “Predators” and in 2005’s “King Kong.” Yet, somehow, he tip-toed around the comic book genre. For someone who can do quirky, dark, brooding, and melancholy like Brody, the fact that he hasn’t yet done anything with comics is a little shocking.
His Perfect Role: For a new comic book series described as “Star Wars meets Game Of Thrones” – Saga is going to end up being adapted into a TV show or film, sooner or later. Written by “Y: The Last Man’s” Brian K. Vaughan, Saga details the relationship between extraterrestrial parents Alana and Marko, while they raise their baby daughter Hazel. As a pacifist, vegetarian, and ex-prisoner of war, Marko only uses violence when he has to protect his family, and as much as he hates them, he’s pretty badass with firearms. That right there just sounds like the versatile characteristics of Adrien Brody. Add horns to his lanky physique, and it’s done.