In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments. This week’s question is inspired by Fangirls’ reader Dan Faust, who asked us to cast a favorite comic book as a movie. The Fangirls decided on our own Avengers movie, and all agreed to keep Robert Downey, Jr. in his role as Iron Man.
How would you cast an Avengers movie?
Let’s get the easy sell out of the way first. Wanda, The Scarlet Witch, who is at turns the Avengers greatest support and their greatest reject and opposition, should be played by Morena Baccarin.
She looks exactly like her, she’s proven her chops at playing exotic, and at least 80% of the target audience already loves her. It is a no-brainer.
Now, let’s talk Ms. Marvel. I’ve heard Charlize Theron thrown around a lot and it’s reasonable. But she’s not my Carol.
Naomi Watts. You may not look at Naomi and think ‘girl’s gonna put me through a wall’ — but Carol’s got the body of Barbie and Naomi can play tough. She’s 41, which in this sad world we live in is considered old, but (1) Carol is one of Tony Stark’s closest friends and peers and RDJ is 44, and (2) you call this OLD?!?! (picture dated July 20, 2009; by the way, she had a baby last December). She can play 30-something, easy. She looks good alongside Tony, Natasha, Logan and Victor. She can pull off fashionable-in-men’s-clothes, adorable (if you don’t think Carol is adorable, please go read Ms. Marvel), and absurdly patriotic. In conclusion, did Jet Girl grow up to be Ms. Marvel?
Yes. Yes she did.
The one Avengers character I’d most like to see make the jump to the big screen is Luke Cage. He hasn’t traditionally been a core Avenger, but since Brian Bendis launched his New Avengers series, the Harlem-based Hero for Hire has proven to be a fearsome fighter and a smart leader. Plus, as a streetwise hero, he’s got a perspective that this crew of billionaires, soldiers, and genius scientists could learn from.
The Internet tells me that Tyrese Gibson has been attached to a Luke Cage product, though I don’t know what its status is. I have no strong feelings about Tyrese, for or against, and if I were really a casting director, it would be my job to cast actors who had the name recognition to bring in fans who wouldn’t be at the movie anyway. Fortunately, I don’t have millions of other people’s dollars at stake, and so I only have to worry about satisfying the Fanastic Fangirls audience. Particularly, that portion of our audience that consists of my friend Samantha, who is the biggest J. August Richards fangirl in the world. So, here goes:
Luke Cage needs to be a guy who can kick anybody’s ass, and grin like hell while he’s doing it. J. August deserves better ‘streetwise’ dialogue than he got as a regular on Angel, and he sure deserves a better vehicle than that basic cable lawyer show that Samantha and I both refuse to learn the name of. It’s a perfect match!
My next choice is totally self-indulgent, though I’m pretty sure it was someone else who originally suggested it. The thing is, I kind of love Matthew Goode’s performance in Watchmen, even though I’m not really convinced that a fierce David Bowie wannabe with a nonspecific European accent was the best choice for the scary-as-fuck Adrian Veidt. On the other hand, fierce David Bowie wannabe with nonspecific European accent is sort of perfect for Quicksilver. Just imagine this hair colored white:
Yeah, I thought so.
I know what’s expected of me here: casting for Captain America. He is, after all, my favorite, and with his movie on the horizon speculation is running rampant about who will be cast. But to be honest, I’m not sure I can think of a single name actor who could play the part — and I dislike every option that’s been presented so far.
Here’s the problem. A convincing Captain America casting has to follow three rules:
1.) Cap must be honest and good, the square-jawed hero type, a silver age movie idol. This is a big deal, because so many great Hollywood actors have become great by playing scoundrels. Their faces connote slyness, or manipulation, or capacity for evil. This is my problem with Leonardo DiCaprio, or even Matt Damon — they’re both great actors, and I could handle them in the part, but I’m not sure I’d ever be fully convinced. And creepy Neal McDonough with his serial killer eyes? Not in a million years.
2.) Cap must be naturally blond, or a convincing bottle blond, and American. Look, usually I’m all for changing things up for the movies. I like race blind casting, I like the idea of finding the right person for the part regardless of looks. But Cap is a special case. He’s the embodiment of 1940s American propaganda. As a character, he rises above that, but his backstory relies on his having this very specific look. A Will Smith casting would change his origin utterly, and even a brunette wouldn’t have the same impact as a tool against Hitler and his Aryan ideals. And the actor has to be American. I love Nathan Fillion as much as the next geek, but I can’t imagine the outcry a Canadian casting would cause.
3.) Cap must be young, but able to carry the gravitas of someone older. Captain America’s backstory relies on him being a sickly kid who is transformed into a super-soldier to fight World War II. He then fights the war for about 5 years before being frozen in ice. As a new recruit, he couldn’t be more than late twenties at the maximum — and was probably younger than that. The actor can’t come across as a whiny teen, of course, but if the actor cast is over 40, it throws plausibility right out the window. I had no problem with Robert Downey Jr. being a significantly older Tony Stark, but it won’t work with Cap. And that’s why my reaction to the suggestion of 44-year-old Mark Valley is an unequivocal “No, no, no.”
When you take all of those requirements, plus the fact that the guy has to be, you know, a good actor, it starts to seem like an impossible quest. So, at this point, I’m hoping it’s an unknown. I’m hoping there’s some guy out there who has all of these qualities and just isn’t on my radar. Or, barring that, I’m hoping someone invents a time machine to pick up Robert Redford circa 1967. That’d solve all of our problems.
Since I rambled a bit on my first casting, I’ll keep the second brief. I would love to see She-Hulk in an Avengers movie. And since Emily Blunt’s scheduling conflicts kept her from being Black Widow, why not give her a chance on this role? A She-Hulk casting is primarily a Jennifer Walters casting — I assume Hulked-out scenes would be done with Dr. Manhattan-style CGI. And Blunt certainly has the Jen Walters look, as well as the acting chops. If she can adopt an American accent, I’d be more than willing to give her this second shot at the Marvel movieverse.
And if her scheduling conflicts crop up again — how about Alyson Hannigan? She can demonstrably play both quiet and mousy and loud and sassy. I’m sure she doesn’t really need more nerd cred, but I’d be happy to give her the role if she wanted it.
I think that it’s important to include those Avengers who have been integral to the form the team has taken. Two Avengers whose errors and mis-steps, and downright screw-ups, have shaped the lives and deaths of their fellow heroes. I submit, therefore, for the Avengers movie, Clint Barton and Hank Pym.
Clint Barton should obviously be played by Eric Bana. The dark good looks, a little rough around the edges, the physicality. Bana has shown that he can handle the SFX extravaganzas, he’s shown courage in the face of silly costumes and bad wigs. He’s also — in Tigerland and Chopper, particularly — shown himself to be a fantastic actor. He’d need all those qualities in a well-written version of Clint Barton. Barton — whether as Hawkeye or Ronin — is a man whose desire to do good is knit together with his desire to prove himself. There’s an anger to his heroism that Bana can convey. Clint is also infamous for standing up against what he sees as a bad decision. Bana could go toe-to-toe against whoever was cast as Cap. And just imagine him playing against Robert Downey, Jr.
For Hank Pym I nominate Reed Diamond. Reed is know to most geeks these days as Mr. Dominic on Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse. But he’s got a string of credits behind him, including Good Night, and Good Luck. For Pym, an actor needs the ability to convey that everything is All About Hank Pym. Hank is not a truly bad man, but he is a weak man. His feelings of being slighted, mocked, or not taken seriously lead him to very bad decisions. Hank’s an eternal second fiddle — if he even rates that high. Yet is is brilliant, powerful, and capable of great things. To play him an actor needs the ability to be both heroic and venal — to be noble and cowardly. Based on Diamond’s layered approach to Mr. Dominic or Dollhouse, I think he’s the perfect actor for the job.
So what about you? How would you cast an Avengers movie?