Soon to be super: round up of casting news
There has been some major announcements recently of actors cast in superhero movies, and the names involved show that whatever stigma there may have been has largely been erased…no matter how big or respected a mainstream star an actor is, they may take a role as a superhero.
This won’t be comprehensive, but here are some of the biggies announced in the past week or so (in alphabetical order by actor’s last name):
Mike Colter as Luke Cage in Luke Cage Netflix series and Jessica Jones Netflix series
- Actor’s geek cred: On the radar. Will appear in the Halo TV series and Halo 5: Guardians. Appeared in American Horror Story, Men in Black 3, Salt, and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Ringer TV series
- Mainstream: On The Good Wife as Lemond Bishop. No major award nominations, or starring roles in blockbusters. IMDb STARmeter: #2,574
- Character previously played by: Gary Anthony Sturgis, Greg Eagles, Robert Wisdom, Khary Payton, Phil LaMarr, James C. Mathis III, Jesse Falcon, Little JJ, Isaiah Mustafa, Christopher B. Duncan, Larry McCalister, Marc Damon Johnson, Ogie Banks
- Character history: Introduced in 1972, Luke Cage has interacted with many of the Marvel mainstream (especially those in New York). Coming from Brooklyn with a street gang background and time in prison, Cage is given an experimental treatment which makes him superhuman. He becomes a “Hero for Hire”, giving him a distinct motivation and attitude from many heroes
A geek’s response: we don’t know enough about Colter yet. This may be a good role to go to someone who doesn’t already have a clearly defined media image.
Jai Courtney as Boomerang in Suicide Squad, August 5, 2016
- Actor’s geek cred: Strong, and growing: Divergent/Insurgent, Terminator Genisys, I, Frankenstein
- Mainstream: No nominations or awards. Appearing in Unbroken which itself may get Oscar nods
- Character previously played by: (there is some ambiguity here, because we don’t know which of two “Captain Boomerang”s Courtney is playing) Donal Gibson; John DiMaggio; James Patrick Stuart; Greg Ellis; Nick Tarabay
- Character history: Introduced in 1960, Captain Boomerang has been one of the main enemies of The Flash. He’s an Australian who uses specially designed boomerangs. As a member of the Suicide Squad, he is generally considered a jerk and perhaps a racist. Digger Harkness and his son have both been Captain Boomerang
A geek’s response: this might work out very well, with Australian Jai Courtney playing Captain Boomerang and perhaps being a surprising stand-out in the cast.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange in Doctor Strange, November 4 2016 (with other appearances likely)
- Actor’s geek cred: Off the charts! The Hobbit, Star Trek, Sherlock Holmes…played Stephen Hawking (on television) and Alan Turing
- Mainstream: Good, and rising. Likely to see an Oscar nomination for The Imitation Game, has won an Emmy, nominated for a Golden Globe, nominated for BAFTAs and won their Brittania Award, won Critics’ Choice, won Hollywood Film Award. IMDb STARmeter: #28
- Character previously played by: Peter Hooten, John Stephenson, John Vernon, Maurice LaMarche, Bryce Johnson, Jon Gutierrez, Roger Rose, Zachary Vaudo, Jack Coleman
- Character history: Brilliant and arrogant. Dr. Strange was a highly-paid neurosurgeon before a car accident injured his hands. He became a master of the mystic arts. He has worked with other Marvel heroes, but more as a consultant: he isn’t much of a team player. In the Marvel universe, practitioners of magic largely consider themselves to be apart from those who don’t: they may interact with each other regularly, but not as much with non-magic users
A geek’s response: “Of course.” Rumored for some time, this seems like a very good fit.
Cara Delevingne as Enchantress in Suicide Squad, August 5, 2016
Actor’s geek cred: Not much. Voiced a DJ in Grand Theft Auto V. Appears in the upcoming [Peter] Pan, starring Hugh Jackman.
Mainstream: Best known as a model, has some acting credits just in the last couple of years. Still, STARmeter is #177
Character previously played by: first time?
Character history: Note: There is a different Marvel character called Enchantress: this is the DC character. First introduced in 1966, Enchantress has had an erratic history (both in terms of the character’s personality and publishing history). June Moone is a freelance artist who goes to a costume party at a castle, and basically gets possessed by an entity and can change into a powerful (but often evil) magic user. Being a magic user in the DC universe is particularly effective, since Kryptonians are affected by magic (June has had run-ins with Superman’s cousin, Supergirl). She may act for good or evil: it’s unpredictable
A geek’s response: Cara will have to prove herself as an actor at the same time the character has to prove herself both within the cinematic universe and to the audience…that’s going to be a challenge
Tom Hardy as Rick Flag in Suicide Squad, August 5, 2016
Actor’s geek cred: Superior, with Star Trek: Nemesis; Inception; Bane in The Dark Knight Rises; and as the new Mad Max (in the upcoming movie)
Mainstream: Perhaps more recognized in Europe than in America (with a BAFTA Rising Star award, and a British Independent Film Award), but certainly known here for more mainstream works, including Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Layer Cake
Character previously played by: Adam Baldwin, Lex Lang, Ted Whittall
Character history: Flag is a soldier, an elite agent, and a leader. He has no super powers, but has encountered and worked with supers. In the comics, he was the leader of the Suicide Squad in Legends, and the movie may be based on that series
A geek’s response: Sure, this makes sense. Tom Hardy can bring the necessary power it would take to control and command this group of wild individuals
Jared Leto as The Joker in Suicide Squad, August 5, 2016
Actor’s geek cred: present, with Urban Legend and Mr. Nobody, but not strong
Mainstream: Lauded and respected, with an Oscar and a Golden Globe (and many others) for Dallas Buyers Club
Character previously played by (note: this is incomplete because, well, look at the length of it already!): Cesar Romero, Larry Storch, Rod Navarro, Lennie Weinrib, Frank Welker, Jack Nicholson, Renee Requiestas, Mark Hamill, Roger Stoneburner, Bud Watson, Andrew Koenig, Brian C. Bethel, Marc Jongebloed, Michael Simon, Paul Matthew Miller, Kevin Michael Richardson, Joey Matthews, Paul Molnar, Bryan Bockbrader, Billy Davis, Heath Ledger, Brian Jarreau, Steve Lekas, Louie Ruiz, Mike Matei, Michael Dobson, Cliff Poche, Stephane Malka, Matthieu Lemeunier, Chris R. Notarile, John Kassir, Paul Matthew Miller, Paul Louis Harrell, John DiMaggio (note that he has also played Captain Boomerang: see above), Josh Davidson, Matt Cinquanta, Dayleigh Nelson, Seth Green, Ryan Gregory, Greg Nugent, Jeff Bennett, Brent Spiner, Zachary Barrett, Steve Reeve, Al Gurst, Christopher Levine, Andrew Saunders, George M. O’Connor, Scott McClure, Giovanni Ribisi, Dee Bradley Baker, Troy Baker, Daniel Baxter
Character history: Introduced in 1940, the Joker is arguably the best know supervillain today. From Jack Nicholson to Heath Ledger, the role has been recognized as a challenge for actors, although those two interpreted in very different ways. Even in 1940, the Joker was one of Batman’s most murderous foes, and one of the ones most deserving of the time spent in Arkham Asylum. Having a marquee actor play him in the Suicide Squad movie is interesting, since he wasn’t a member of the team (although his associate, Harley Quinn, is…see below)
A geek’s response: Heath Ledger’s performance was one of the greatest movie performances ever…period. For that reason, it was going to be difficult to return the Joker to the movies. Bringing in a recent Oscar winner is a good way to do it, and not having the movie depend on the Joker being front and center is likely also a smart move: get people to accept the idea of having someone else play the Joker before making the “Clown Prince of Crime” one of the star characters. Just speculation, though…
Ezra Miller as The Flash in The Flash March 23, 2018
Actor’s geek cred: Barely visible…Cakey! The Cake from Outer Space
Mainstream: Respected, especially for his award-winning and nominated performances in The Importance of Being a Wallflower and We Need to Talk about Kevin
Character previously played by: Ray Owens, Ted Knight, Jack Angel, Rod Haase, John Wesley Shipp, Kenny Johnston, Charlie Schlatter, Michael Rosenbaum, Neil Patrick Harris, Eric Bauza, Billy Mitchell, Josh Keaton, Justin Wilson, Alan Tudyk, George Eads, James Arnold Taylor, Justin Chambers, George R. Miller, Jason Spisak, Christopher Gorham, Grant Gustin
Character history: It appears that this will be the Barry Allen version. A police scientist accidentally gains the ability to move at superhuman speeds. What that means has really been explored in the comics, including the ability to vibrate through walls, travel through time, and create hurricane like weapons.
A geek’s take: It’s entirely possible that the current Flash TV series will still be going at that point, so I would guess that would take a different approach, perhaps more serious. It’s reasonable to interpret Barry Allen as more intellectual than physical, and Ezra Miller could play that.
Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones in the Jessica Jones Netflix series in 2015 and presumably to appear in other productions
Actor’s geek cred: Some, although it would be reasonable to say nothing with a strong fandom or widespread appeal (unless one includes Veronica Mars). Vamps with Alicia Silverstone (and a screenplay by Amy Heckerling) reported grossed under $5,000 in the USA. Woke Up Dead was a web series with Jon Heder as a zombie
Mainstream: Don’t Trust the B**** in Apt. 23 lasted 26 episodes, but had a lot of buzz (and got a Teen Choice award). Again, it depends a bit on where you put Veronica Mars. Other TV series have included Gilmore Girls and Breaking Bad (something about alliteration, perhaps?) 😉
Character previously played by: Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (Marvel Heroes videogame)
Character history: Introduced in 2003, Jessica Jones is not your typical superhero. In fact, she’s retired. She has a troubled and complicated past, having been victimized and misunderstood. She does have super powers, and has interacted with many Marvel characters (although not always in a good way)
A geek’s response: This could be one of the more interesting super hero TV shows, and Krysten Ritter should be able to bring us a character who can be both sardonic and vulnerable
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, August 5, 2016
Actor’s geek cred: It’s a bit of a stretch. Uncredited performances as a butterfly in Elephant Princess and a part in the Richard Curtis movie About Time (U.S. box office under $20 million). Will play Jane in 2016’s Tarzan which will be released prior to Suicide Squad, at which point geek credit will be solid
Mainstream: The Wolf of Wall Street put her on the map and got her some nominations and a UK Empire Award
Character previously played by: Arleen Sorkin, Sherilyn Fenn (unaired pilot), Mia Sara, Chrissy Kiehl, Tara Flynn, Rachel Nicole, Deanna Miller, Hynden Walch, Cindy Airey, Amanda Giesel, Meghan Strange, Laura Bailey, Tara Strong, Calliope Tsoukalas
Character history: First appearing on Batman: The Animated Series in 1999, Harley Quinn has since become an accepted part of the canon, appearing the comic books as well. She was a mental health professional who was treating the Joker at Arkham Asylum, and became involved with him. It’s a lot more complex than that, but she becomes a supervillain, both with and without the Joker. She is arguably even more vicious than the Joker, and without the subtleties.
A geek’s response: At the time of writing, Robbie is perhaps the buzziest of the Suicide Squad cast. It was just announced that she was the #3 Top Star at IMDb for 2014 (based on page views), and the #1 new star (topping Jared Leto) at that site. It’s worth noting that Suicide Squad is more than a year away, and Tarzan may affect the public’s perception of her (in either direction). Suicide Squad may hinge to some extent on Harley Quinn (allowing a bridge to the Joker, for one thing), and Robbie should be able to deliver the insanity
Will Smith as Deadshot in in Suicide Squad, August 5, 2016
Actor’s geek cred: Stratospheric! Men in Black, I Am Legend, Independence Day…he’s even played a super before as Hancock (and a sequel has been announced for that)
Mainstream: Two Lead Actor nominations (Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness), plus numerous other nominations. Smith is a respected actor, doing comedy, action, and drama. IMDb StarMeter #122
Character previously played by: Chris Cox, Robin Atkin Downes, Michael Rosenbaum, Kofi Nsafoah, Jim Meskimen, Bradley Stryker, Tom Kenny, Marcello Rizzo, Michael Rowe, Neal McDonough, Rocco Chierichella
Character history: A wealthy expert shot, introduced in 1950, Floyd Lawton nearly took Batman’s place in Gotham City. Batman was instrumental in Lawton being arrested and getting prison time. As is the case with some other supervillain origin stories, Lawton blames the hero who bested him for his woes, and becomes more of a criminal
A geek’s response: While Smith has played a range of roles, most people still associate him with being sort of mischievous and good hearted. A murderous assassin with a personal death wish is going to be contrary to the full of humor characters for which Smith is best known. This one is going to be a challenge to pull off
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