By: Adam Basciano
Warner Brothers wants to make a Justice League movie. The fact is with their go to money-making franchises finished, i.e. “Harry Potter” and “The Dark Knight Trilogy”, it’s become imperative that they make use of the DC Comics library of characters. Aside from Batman, the studio hasn’t had much luck translating other DC Comics superheroes to the big screen. The Flash and Wonder Woman are sitting in development purgatory, while various scripts sit somewhere collecting dust. In 2011, Green Lantern failed to ignite his power battery (I liked the film, although acknowledge it is flawed) at the box office. Enter Man of Steel, the Superman reboot from director Zack Snyder. This film was tasked with revitalizing a Superman franchise that had been left for dead thanks to “Superman IV: The Quest For Peace.” The franchise was temporarily resurrected, just long enough for Bryan Singer to come along and make a love letter to the original Richard Donner film. While this pleased many nostalgic critics it split the fan base, but more importantly left general audiences in a coma when it came to the Superman film franchise. “Man of Steel” has certainly reinvigorated the franchise and has shown strength at the box office worldwide. This is great news for Superman on film, but the general consensus in Hollywood, DC Comics on film as well. It is widely believed that an expansion of the DC Universe on film was dependent on Man of Steel’s success. With that accomplished, the question becomes, what’s next? In all likelihood I expect a “Man of Steel” sequel next out of the gate. After that is anyone’s guess? Does the studio launch other solo character films first, leading up to Justice League? Or, does it even pair it’s two most popular icons Batman and Superman together first, then segue into Justice League, and finally break off into solo films for other Justice League members after the ensemble film? Like Kal-El in “Man of Steel,” we have so many questions, and Warner Brothers will give us the answers when they’re damn well good and ready. Regardless, here are some of my thoughts on casting, no matter what direction the studio takes:
Clark Kent/Superman – Henry Cavill
To me this is automatic, a no brainer if you will. For two reasons. One, you just spent a shit ton of money selling audiences on Mr. Cavill as Superman. Well that and you’ve wildly insinuated that Man of Steel will be the lynch pin of a shared DC Movie Universe going forward. Therefore, Henry Cavill is Superman going forward, be it more solo films and unified films with his super powered colleagues. I look forward to seeing Henry Cavill’s Superman into the character throughout several films. Also, casting Cavill would spare sane fans from hearing basement dwellers clamour for Tom Welling to assume the role, or for a CGI Christopher Reeve to take center stage. And if you even remotely insinuate the possibility of recasting the role, these nut jobs would come out in droves and spread such insanity all over the internet! Eagle eyed fans with notice references Bruce Wayne and a connection to Aquaman imbedded in “Man of Steel.”
Bruce Wayne/Batman – Armie Hammer, Karl Urban, or Liam McIntyre
With Christian Bale’s tenure as The Dark Knight over, and yes guys it is really over, it’s time for a new man to take up the cause of protecting Gotham City. Armie Hammer was actually cast in the role in the defunct Justice League: Mortal. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the studio went back to the actor for the role. In fact, they did just that with Henry Cavill as Superman. After seeing “The Social Network”, Armie Hammer has proven he’s capable of delivering a good performance. In “The Lone Ranger”, the actor was capable of acquitting himself well in a big budget film full of special effects and grand set pieces. Armie Hammer would work best as a Batman in the first few years of his crime fighting exploits, similar to the first arc of the New 52 Justice League book.
An alternative choice would be Karl Urban. Similar in age to Christian Bale, Urban has a Bruce Wayne look about him. He’s got experience in big sci-fi blockbuster type films playing iconic characters. One needs look no further than the rebooted “Star Trek” franchise, where he plays Dr. McCoy a.k.a. Bones. For examples of potential Batman credentials, look at “Dredd” for inspiration. If he were cast in the role this would be a more experienced Batman, focusing on his detective and tactical skills. That’s especially how I see Batman functioning in this way going forward, especially team up films. Think about the Nick Fury role in The Avengers, only more expanded and involved. I think Karl Urban is a versatile enough actor to bring a uniqueness to the role and not fall into the trap of unintentionally or otherwise, copying Christian Bale.
A third actor has emerged in my mind after discussing this particular actor for another character. Website co-creator Dave and I, believe that “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” star Liam McIntyre would be a good choice for the new Dark Knight. He’s got a good look and height for the character, and if his last role proves anything, he can definitely handle fight scenes. In the final season his Spartacus character even proved to be a good tactician, a skill I’ve established that Batman should have. He also falls in a good age range to play the character as well.
Diana Prince/Wonder Woman – Gina Carano or Adrianne Palicki
When discussing Wonder Woman and who should play her, fans often rattle off a list of Hollywood beauties. Sometimes when listening to their casting suggestions, you’d think they’d want a Victoria Secret model to play the role. Excuse me a second while I daydream about a myriad of Victoria Secret Models….Back on topic! Yes, Wonder Woman is stunningly beautiful, but she’s also an Amazonian Warrior who can kick your ass! As such, the woman playing her needs to embody both those qualities. Therefore, my first choice would be Gina Carano. As a former MMA fighter she can definitely handle herself in the physical department, and I like what I’ve seen acting wise in films like “Haywire” and “Fast and Furious 6.”
My second choice is Adrianne Palicki. She of course played Wonder Woman in the ill-fated television pilot. I don’t blame her for the projects failure. That is largely due to a sub par script and David E. Kelley not really understanding the character or concepts. What worked in Ally McBeal doesn’t necessarily work for Wonder Woman. She’s been in a number of Sci-Fi-genre television, and other non Sci-Fi drama series. I have no hesitation about her acting capabilities. Her recent turn in “GI Joe: Retaliation”, as the only female heroine in the group sold me on her handling the rigours of the action scenes playing the role of Wonder Woman. It helps matters that she has a great height for the role, and looked great in the Wonder Woman costume. I could see WB giving her another look.
John Stewart/Green Lantern – Idris Elba or Dwayne Johnson
Right away you’ll notice that I selected John Stewart as the Green Lantern of choice going forward. I believe this will be the case, as selecting John Stewart as the cinematic Green Lantern allows the studio to distance themselves from Ryan Reynolds’ Hal Jordan, while still keeping the elements they got right in the “Green Lantern” film. Namely, everything on Oa, design concepts, and how the costume looks and functions. John Stewart also seems to be the more popular Green Lantern amongst the general public, thanks to the fantastic “Justice League: Animated Series.” I remember reading and hearing, countless times during the lead up to the film…”Isn’t Green Lantern a black guy!?” One actor that immediately comes to mind is Idris Elba. This actor is so versatile, has been in several different genre’s of film and television. He’s played a multitude of differing characters ranging from real people to fictional. In the superhero genre, he’s played Heimdall in Thor. His talents are severely wasted in that film, but he manages to be a commanding presence on film whenever he’s in a scene. The actor has gone on record saying he’d like to play an actual superhero, not just the gatekeeper to Marvel’s cheap Superman knockoff with blonde hair, and a tool in his hand. When an actor of his talent expresses interest in playing a superhero it’d be wise of WB to call his representatives.
Another actor I’d consider for the role is Dwayne Johnson, better known to wrestling fans as The Rock. Here we have one of the rare cases that a wrestler turned out to be a down right solid actor. He is the modern-day equivalent of the classic action star. He also seems to be Hollywood’s go to guy for resurrecting franchises that have failed to impress on the first go around, or fizzled out over time. Look no further than “The Fast and The Furious” and “G.I. Joe franchises.” The wrestler turned actor has the physical appearance of a comic book superhero, has name recognition, which WB will probably like to add at some point, has proven he could play action, comedy and a more dramatic role, most recently in the film “Snitch.” Most importantly, he has expressed interest in playing a superhero. He could possibly electrify the Green Lantern role just enough to reignite the power battery.
Barry Allen/The Flash – Patrick Wilson or Charlie Hunnam
I’ve always had a vision of an actor 30 or older playing the character of Barry Allen and his alter ego. Being that the character is a forensic scientist, who can also harness the power of the speed force, personally I just can’t see that being played by someone in their early 20’s. The actor has to be someone who has the look and feel of someone who can handle those responsibility. Therefore, one of my choices for the Scarlett Speedster is Patrick Wilson. Whenever I’m looking at art featuring the comic book version of Barry Allen, he’s the first actor that springs to mind. He’s played a surgeon before, so forensic scientist should be well within his range. He’s also played a superhero before, Nite Owl in Zack Snyder’s “Watchmen.”
My other choice for this character would be Charlie Hunnam, most notable for his role in Sons of Anarchy. This would be such a departure from his role on that show, which makes him an even more intriguing choice for me. With shorter hair and clean-shaven he has a good look for Barry Allen. His role in Warner Brothers upcoming “Pacific Rim” will be his first true foray into blockbuster tent pole films. He’s also British, so if he was cast it would continue the trend of British actors playing American superheroes. This has worked out in Hollywood’s favour thus far, so that’s a plus for him.
Arthur Curry/Aquaman – Alexander Skarsgard or Liam Hemsworth
While fans of DC Comics know that Aquaman is cool or can be when written correctly, the general perception of the character is that he is the joke of the DC Universe and superheroes in general. For him to work on-screen the studio has to convince the audience and probably the actor playing him, that the general perception of the character is wrong. To do this, I’d base the film version of Aquaman off of Geoff Johns’ New 52 run of the character. That version of the character has a bit of an attitude and chip on his shoulder, and struggles to counteract the stereotype we just mentioned within the pages of the comic book. I struggled to think of appropriate actors for this role, so I brainstormed with the co-founder and co-operator of this site. The two names we came up with are Alexander Skarsgard of “True Blood” and Liam Hemsworth of “The Hunger Games.” Both actors have the look and height to play the character, and both could portray the strength and swagger needed to play the King of Atlantis.
These are my choices to fill out the roles of the DC Comics superheroes in A DC Film Universe. Who Warner Brothers ultimately selects to fill these roles, and if any of my choices make the cut remains to be seen, but in the meantime it’s fun to speculate.