Q&A 40 How would you cast an Avengers movie?

In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question β€” 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?



Anika


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.



Caroline


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.



Jennifer

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.



Sigrid

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.


How would you cast an Avengers movie?

  • Samantha

    \o/ I endorse the hell out of this post.

  • Caroline

    Our movie will be very pretty! And Anika, you’ve really sold me on Naomi Watts. I’ve said before that Carol Danvers is intimidating because she’s simultaneously more glamorous and tougher than you are (whoever you happen to be), and Naomi can really do both of those at the same time.

    Sigrid, the Reed Diamond thing is brilliant and I can pretty much look at Eric Bana forever. πŸ˜›

  • Caroline

    @Samantha — And my pandering totally paid off. W00t!

  • Anika

    First, I have to admit to liking Raising the Bar and then I have to say that I knew Reed Diamond from Judging Amy before anything else (I, um, like lawyer drama?) but then I can say, oh, YES, that’s good! I also sort of love Matthew Goode as Pietro and Emily really does deserve to be a super heroine (though I might make her Jan over Jen).

    As for my Naomi, that’s an excellent description @Caroline and…they would never make a just Ms. Marvel movie but I would totally go to the theatre twelve times if they did.

  • Sam

    Ew, Raising the Bar makes me want to slap someone. It’s THE worst lawyer show out there. Although, you know. MPG as Cap if he goes blonde again could be okay (I like Robert Redford, from his hey day, but we’d be looking for a younger actor, obviously).

    Great casting choices all. Reed Diamond was completely out of left field for me but I think he works perfectly in the role. Same for the rest. Veidt was my least favorite in Watchmen, but that was more the writing/character than Goode (I loved him in Imagine Me and you and The Lookout as two very different characters, which really showed his range).

    You guys should cast a JLA movie. Or have you done that already? I’d love to see who you come up with (what with being the DC fangirl that I am).

  • Anika

    @Sam It has Zack in it, ok? I have seen every episode of Saved By the Bell and I am not ashamed!!

    This is our first casting post but I know I enjoy it, so we could do more πŸ˜€

  • Dan

    This is what I came up with:

    http://thefaust.wordpress.com/2008/05/06/lets-castthe-avengers/

    Cap is hard. They really don’t make ’em like Steve anymore. Anyone with the right qualities to play Steve isn’t an actor (or, at the very least, isn’t a Name), they’re off tilling fields in Iowa. So, I broke the number one rule about casting Cap by picking someone who isn’t an American. Hey, I panicked.

  • I agree with every single thing in this post. *approves*

  • Dan

    @Anika It’s funny…for whatever reason, I was thinking about who I’d cast as Scarlet Witch the other day, and I immediately started thinking “British”. But, wow, Morena would be great!

    @Jennifer Really, the only way to cast Steve Rogers is to utilize time travel.

    @Caroline Good call on Quicksilver. JAR, as much as I love him, looks to slim to be the Luke Cage I see in my head. Doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be great in the role, though.

    @Sigrid Funny how we both went to DOLLHOUSE for Pym. As for Bana…I don’t know…maybe it’s just me, but he always strikes me as kind of bland.

  • @Caroline Yay, Matthew Goode! I’m pretty sure I was the one who first floated that idea, and I still stand by it. He’d be excellent.

    @Anika Thanks to you, Morena IS Wanda in my mind. Excellent.

    @Sigrid I never would have thought of either of your choices, but I like them a lot. Clint, unlike Cap, doesn’t really have to be blond, and Eric Bana has everything else going for him. I approve.

    @Sam Hmm, Mark-Paul Gosselaar? He still connotes punky kid to me, I think — I see him more as a Hawkeye type, or a Havok. But it’s a better option than a lot I’ve heard.

    @Dan Cap is INCREDIBLY hard. The guy you picked (who I’d never heard of) does have the look and the age down, but, yeah, the non-American thing would be a deal breaker. It seems that WE just don’t make ’em like him anymore, even if other countries might.

  • Caroline

    @Dan You know, Ryan Reynolds is way closer to my idea of Hawkeye than either Deadpool or Hal Jordan. Huh.

    @Jen Doesn’t Ultimate Hawkeye even have dark hair? I think a movie with Steve in the cast would do well to have him as the only blond (guy), really, because it makes him stand out more.

  • Caroline

    @Jen & Dan — You know, I’m really not that worried about casting if they ever actually do make a Cap movie. We tend to forget that casting directors have a lot more resources at their disposal than fans trying to construct things with actors we already know about — I mean, who would have looked at Hugh Jackman in Oklahoma and said ‘there’s my Wolverine!’. I think Cap being an unknown would be a smart move because the character is so iconic; so they’ll do an open casting call and find somebody no one’s ever heard of and he’ll fit the part, and it’ll be great. This is my theory. I’m a lot more worried about a good script!

  • @Caroline If they do go for an unknown, I’m not worried at all — my worry is that they’ll feel like they need a name in order to sell him. They’re getting away with an unknown for Thor, but that’s because they have the Kenneth Branagh starpower at the directorial helm. So I guess what I should hope for is for a great director to pick up the Cap movie — and, yes, for the script to be good.

    I’m also praying with all my might that Cap is more 616 than Ultimates, but every interview with Kevin Feige and Zak Penn seems to be implying that the Avengers movie will be like Ultimates, and that scares me. (As does, frankly, yet another Zak Penn script.)

  • handyhunter

    I really like the idea of Morena Baccarin playing Wanda (although the description of her “playing exotic” is throwing me off a bit) and J. August Richards as Luke Cage! I’d watch that.

    On the subject of Whedon-verse actors, I always thought Riley Finn was a Captain America (white, blond, tall, attractive, wholesome, earnest, good soldier) type.

  • sigrid

    @Anika I can’t even tell you how much I approve of your Ms. Marvel casting. AND Wanda.

    @danfaust Hah, yes — Hank Pym needs to be able to be whiny, and also capable of heroism.

    @Jennifer Yes, to all of those problems.

    @Caroline Now I am imagining Monica Baccarin acting the scenes in House of M with Matthew Goode, with Ian McKellan facing Goode down.

  • Anika

    @handyhunter Is ‘mysterious’ a more palatable word than exotic?

  • handyhunter

    @anika Yes. It’s not nearly as loaded a term. :)

  • Dan

    @Caroline Oh, I agree about Reynolds. He’d be a much better Hawkeye or Wally West than Deadpool or Hal.

    And, hopefully, they will go for an unknown to play Steve. It really is the only way to go, I think, especially since they can use RDJ, Samuel L Jackson, and (possibly) Ed Norton’s names to market it.

    @Jennifer I still say that one random blond Doll from DOLLHOUSE would be a great Steve. There are certain aspects of Ultimate Cap that I like, for example the fact that he’s a hardass. This guy lived through the Depression and most of WWII, he’d have a bit of an edge, I think.

    @handyhunter I’ve championed Marc Blucas playing Steve Rogers for about a decade. He basically WAS Steve Rogers on BUFFY. But, at this point, he may be just a little past the age-range now.

    I feel like I should go back and do an updated casting, based on recent movie news and, maybe, additional characters. Or, I could just do one for Young Avengers…

  • sure, everyone has great ideas, so what would I have to pitch in that would be any different? Well, I thought of something… AN ALL-WWE CAST. That’s right, ladies. I’m picking only the wrestling beefcakes for the Avengers movie. betcha didn’t see that one coming.

    Captain America – John Cena. And WHY NOT? Physically he’s there, plus there’s “acting experience”, The marine and 12 rounds.

    Hawkeye – Chris Jericho. At first I was going with CM Punk, but then I thought of Jericho, and he’s just the perfect choice. Sure, he’s a little too big to be Clint, but the swagger and ironic smile is all there.

    Pym/Yellowjacket/Goliath – Christian. This was the toughest one to pick, but as soon as I thought of Christian, it became obvious he had the kind of rugged look the never-quite-there-as-a-hero Pym requires.

    Janet the Wasp – Mickie James. Her cheerleading spunkiness would fit in nicely.

    Scarlett Witch – Maria. I bet you can just picture it, can’t you?

    Quicksilver – I can see Jeff Hardy with a bleached haircut nailing the part physically, but that Texas accent of him would be hard to get rid of.

    Ms. Marvel – Beth Phoenix, no contest.

    Luke Cage – I don’t normally think of Cage as an Avenger, but as he was mentioned and he’s one of my faves, I gave it some thought. Batista would be perfect body-wise and also his demeanor, but Luke is obviously a black man. R-Truth could maybe pull this off, also Ezekiel Jackson. Toss-up between those two, but this is the character I was least satisfied with while casting.

    Now tell me that didn’t just BLOW YOUR MIND?

  • @euthanatos You know… I could kind of see Chris Jericho as Hawkeye. (Also, I am both impressed and terrified by your list.)

    @Dan Hardass, sure. It’s not quite my view of Cap, but I understand that perspective and would be able to live with the portrayal. But xenophobic jackass misogynist? Not so much. There is no way my Captain America would ever say the “Do you think this A stands for France?!” line.

    But I do agree about that random blond in that Dollhouse episode!

  • Dan

    @Jennifer I don’t remember Ultimate Steve being a misogynist…but, since I’ve forgotten about 90-95% of that book, I will defer to your memory. And, I have to admit, I always laugh at the France bit…although, as someone who fought alongside the French, Steve wouldn’t be so dismissive.

    @euthanatos I think I may have momentarily considered Cena.

  • Cash

    Anika: spot on for both Wanda and Carol.

    I wonder if Richards has the MASS to play Luke Cage. He’s 6’3″, so if he stands next to Downey (5’8″), maybe it will work.

    Cap’s a problem. Could Aaron Eckhart pull it off?

  • I was looking up heights on the Luke Cage one, and my rationale is that most actors are shorter than we think, so anybody who’s legitimately tall will look hugely tall. In actuality, I think they’ll probably go with a rapper/musician if they ever cast Cage in an ensemble movie, but I have no idea which ones are really tall (and I’m pandering to nerds here as well ;)). I know Common is playing the Mr. T role in the A-Team movie. . .that could work for Cage.

    Aaron Eckhart’s still too old for Steve, I think, if they’re doing the backstory, but he fits the part as well as anybody I could think of.

  • @Cash I like Eckhart, but he’s over 40. He’s also Two Face, so that violates item number 1 pretty strongly. The genre audience is going to see him as potentially shifty.

  • Sam

    Ahem.

    Mark Paul

    :) He gets my vote for Cap, despite Raising the Bar being awful.

  • I think that jumping into the Wayback Machine may be the only way to cast Cap, yeah. I basically always picture him as Randolph Scott. He’s approachable! He’s rugged! He’s a friend to the chldren and the animals!

    If Hollywood is too lazy to exhume and reanimate a corpse (those jerks), hmmm…tall, blond, and cornfed? Chris Pratt isn’t doing anything these days, is he?

  • Caroline

    I’m pretty sure it’s canon that Tony Stark has a crush on Randolph Scott. Or something like that.

    And I’ve always liked Chris Pratt for a superhero role, though he strikes me as more of a Hawkeye or Havok type. They always say it’s a lot easier to get an actor who’s naturally funny/playful to play a square-jawed type than vice-versa, though, so I’d definitely file Chris among the best Steve Rogers suggestions I’ve heard. He’s still a little too old, strictly speaking but — at least youthful looking, or he was the last time I checked.

  • Storycasting.com is ALL ABOUT FANTASY CASTING! That’s all we do. We’ll put The Avengers on (although not sure who to use for the ‘author’…), and you can use our actor database, with pictures, to cast the movie the way you want. Plus, every cast is a ‘vote’ for that actor in that role, and the favorites create a Top Cast for that work. If we don’t have the books/cartoons/games/comix/actors you want, let us know and we’ll put them in.

    Storycasting.com
    “for the movie in your mind”

  • Cash

    Oh, duh.

    All we need is bleach.

    Tom Welling.

    Wouldn’t it be perfect to have both DC’s AND Marvel’s most iconic heroes played by the same actor?

  • Producer Butch Walker also makes a cameo. ,

  • What, then, are we to make of the fact that he goes on to treat the thesis that good sense is equally distributed as though it had been adequately demonstrated? ,

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