Archive for December, 2013

Greeting Couch Potatoes! That’s the new nickname I’m kicking around for followers of this “Casting Couch” series. What do you think? Anyways, when last we were here I started to cast the DC Universe in a bold new series that would follow the Marvel method of introducing our heroes in their own solo adventures before uniting them for a world saving epic in Justice League. We kicked things off with the Guillermo Del Toro directed Green Lantern: The Emerald Dawn, in which we were introduced to Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern Corps and the existence of extraterrestrial threats to our home world. Now we’re going to take a step back and anchor things to Earth for a bit with the reintroduction of one of DC’s more recognizable heroes and film icons. Lady and gentlemen, I give you:

Image

Christopher Nolan did an amazing thing with his first two forays into the world of the Dark Knight (he lost sight of things a bit with The Dark Knight Rises, as he fell into a trap that many do with wanting to tell a larger than life story in a self contained trilogy that was just two big for those final two hours). But with the first two, Batman was grounded into a realistic and well thought out singular universe. They took some of the corniest notions of the comic and validated them in logical, real world situations. It was, for the most part, a successful little trilogy. But much like with Green Lantern before it, our Batman is going to focus on doing three things differently: 1) It obviously won’t be self contained. Our Batman is part of a bigger universe so there will be subtle allusions to the rest of DC Universe. Especially where the events of Green Lantern are concerned. Batman never fully trusted each member of the Justice League because of the power they wield. So with this first film we’ll start to explore that distrust. 2) It’s going to be more of an ensemble piece instead of just a Batman film. There are a lot of rich characters and points of view in the Batman mythology. Not to mention different degrees of psychology. We’re going to shake things up by showing you not just Batman but also interwoven storylines involving the GCPD, investigative journalist Vicki Vale and other members of the less explored supporting cast. 3) It won’t be an origin story. Nolan covered that ground fine and, honestly, Batman’s origin has been told so many different times that you’re essentially born with that knowledge now. So this film will kick off with Batman having already been crusading and have various people on his trail. Minor flashbacks strategically placed will tell his “origin” and also set up a grander mystery to be explored across the series.

So with that, let’s get into the grim and gritty…

A vigilante crusader known to the public as The Batman is fighting crime in Gotham City. But is he friend or foe? Many are trying to find out. But a greater menace surfaces as a lunatic starts murdering the city’s citizens in gruesome ways. Some will have to decide if catching a vigilante is worth the risk of letting a lunatic run free. But the question still looms, who are these masked people and what greater mystery is still on the horizon?

Image

David Fincher – Director

Seven. Fight Club. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Hell…even Alien 3 to certain extents…Fincher has proven time and again that he can tell a gritty, dramatic, character driven suspense story with plenty of action. And he has a huge talent for taking you into the minds of the characters involved, which would be a huge part of this new series. If he can tone things down to a teen friendly PG-13 rating you’ve got the perfect Batman director at the helm.

Image

Karl Urban – Batman/Bruce Wayne

Urban is a fantastic character actor. Whether he’s a Rider of Rohan (Lord of the Rings), a Russian secret service assassin (The Bourne Supremacy), a familiar Starfleet doctor (Star Trek reboot) or the epitome of motorcycle street justice (Dredd), you can’t help but fully believe he’s that character. The problem with Ben Affleck – and even Christian Bale after he hit big with the first film – is the recognition. When Man of Steel 2: The Dark Knight Returns hits theaters in 2015, all you’re gonna see is Ben Affleck. No matter how good of a performance he may deliver. Urban has managed to stay secluded enough within his characters for you to still be able to believe he’s Batman.

Image

Mads Mikkelsen – The Joker

Nobody can deny how great Heath Ledger was as The Joker. Not to mention Mark Hamill’s iconic voice work for the character than spanned 20 years. But for this version we’re looking at Mikkelsen. Perhaps you recall him from a little film called Casino Royal or have seen his work on Hannibal. Fincher has a great ability to bring out one’s inner psychotic. So these two would introduce us to one frighteningly evil clown price of crime. Maybe he’ll even wear a face with a gruesome twist on the New 52 version of the Joker.

Image

Yvonne Strahovski – Vicki Vale

Forget Kim Basinger! Sure…she was fine in the Tim Burton original with her pouty looks and modern business woman professionalism. But this Vicki Vale is going to be a bit more exotic. She’s the independent go getter that will do whatever it takes to land her story. And this particular story leads her to Wayne Manor! For that kind of sex appeal we’re looking right towards the veteran Chuck star. Sure, I would have loved to see her suit up in the Marvel universe as Agent Sharon Carter but Ms. Vale will work out equally as well.

Image

Bryan Cranston – Commissioner Jim Gordon

The former Breaking Bad star has Jim Gordon written all over him. Sure, he’s possibly up for the role of Lex Luthor right now but come on! Look at him! And this wouldn’t be Gary Oldman’s version. This is veteran police commissioner Jim Gordon. The guy with the secret relationship to Batman that forces him to throw his own people off the trail. And trust me…it’s beating him down a bit as a particular few are getting closer.

Image

Jeremy Irons – Alfred Pennyworth

One of the most interesting things about Alfred is that he’s a former British super spy. Michael Caine can talk about Burma all he wants but his character’s past never really came out in that performance. English born actor and Die Hard With A Vengeance badass Jeremy Irons has everything you need for an Alfred with a bigger, if not slightly secretive, background.

Image

Bill Nighy – Carmine Falcone

Yep…we’re doing Falcone again. But it’s because Falcone is a strong villain deeply rooted in the Batman mythology. His involvement could later open us up to something in the realm of The Long Halloween. For our take on “The Roman” we’re looking at Bill Nighy, who has proven with various films like Underworld and the Pirates of the Caribbean series that he can easily play a calm, cool and collected villain. Even if for a shorter time than the film’s main villain.

Image

Eva Green – Selina Kyle

No, this film isn’t going to feature Catwoman per se. That would be way too much story. And one of the things I thought was most tragic about The Dark Knight Rises is that I thought Anne Hathaway was perfect casting for that role and the character was horrendously misused and under utilized because of the sheer amount that Nolan was trying to cram into that film. So no…no Catwoman. But you will be introduced to Selina Kyle in a small supporting role (if not cameo) represented in Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One street tough prostitute persona. For that I’m looking toward former Bond Girl and Camelot star, Eva Green. She just has that certain exotic, tough girl exterior that can be easily translated into Madam Kyle and eventually (in the inevitable follow up) Catwoman.

Image

Guy Pearce – Harvey Dent

Yes…I know…Guy Pearce has already dipped his toe in the Marvel universe as one of the villains in Iron Man 3. However, since it’s incredibly unlikely that his character will be resurfacing I’d say that one-and-done performance doesn’t carry enough weight to hold him back from a little crossover action. Plus, he’s kind of a dead ringer for many artists interpretations of Dent; played one hell of a prosecutor in Rules of Engagement and was even rumored to be up for this very role early on into Christopher Nolan’s setup.

Image

Michelle Rodriguez – Det. Renee Montoya

Do I really need to go any further? The pictures featured above do all of the talking. The Fast & Furious actress looks tailor made for the role of tough lesbian detective and future superhero investigator, The Question. And Rodriguez has made a strong career out of being a team player on the ensemble front. She’d easily be able to pull off being part of the two cop pair trying to track down leads on The Bat and has a suspicion there’s a lot that Gordon isn’t telling her.

Image

Michael Madsen – Det. Harvey Bullock

Who better to play washed up, tough guy Detective Bullock than washed up, tough guy Reservoir Dog Michael Madsen? Y’know…if he took a break from whichever Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez flick he’s doing this week. He’d be a knockout – especially with Fincher’s direction – and it could really catapult him back into some mainstream glory…as long as he doesn’t get killed off by Mikkelsen’s Joker…

Image

Lennie James – Lucius Fox

Finally we come to head of Wayne Enterprises, Lucius Fox. It’s not going to be quite the same version of Fox you may be familiar with. He’s not going to know that Bruce is Batman (at least not at first) and he won’t be leaving any easy to follow paper trails connecting Wayne Enterprises to the Bat Mobile. However, he will have his own unique presence – perhaps more so as the series progresses – and for that we look to Mr. Lennie James. Like others on the list, James is a phenomenal character actor. Check him out in his two episodes of The Walking Dead if you’re one of the few who haven’t already!

So with that we close out the cast of Batman. But now it’s time to introduce a new segment that I didn’t include with the Green Lantern edition…

THE STINGER

For those of you who don’t know, a Stinger Ending is an additional scene that comes during or after the credits as a fun little way to advance the story. With Batman, we’re going to have two Stingers:

STINGER 1 (During the credits): Batman is sitting at his computer in the Batcave watching a series of reports on his jumbotron bat computer. Alfred walks in with a newspaper (The Daily Planet to be exact) and says “Master Bruce…the strangest thing seems to have just happened in Metropolis.” To which Batman replies through his teeth, “I know.”

STINGER 2 (After the credits): This is actually a scene I thought would have greatly benefited The Dark Knight. After the Joker is inevitably beat, he’s sent to Arkham Asylum. He’s in a straight jacket in his cell. The door opens and an attractive young woman walks in wearing a professional pant suit. She says “I’m Dr. Quinzel, your court appointed psychologist. Before we get started I’d like to ask for your name. As a matter of treating you I prefer not to identify you as ‘The Joker.'” Joker then looks up with a half sinister grin and says, “Then by all means…call me Mr. J.”

Dr. Quinzel smiles.

Advertisements

Back in the days of yore there was Wizard Magazine. One of my favorite features was the CASTING CALL. It was a feature where the staff picked a comic book and chose actors to play the characters. The actors weren’t always chosen realistically and the same actor was often used more than once (ie: Bruce Campbell) but it was a fun segment. So with that, I’m launching the first in a series that I hope to post weekly wherein I cast the DC Universe in an interconnected film series that follows the Marvel method and culminates with JUSTICE LEAGUE.

You may have seen my previous blog where I argued why DC and Warner Bros. need to combine their new Man of Steel film universe with their Arrow TV universe to successfully transition into their planned 2017 Justice League film. That argument obviously still stands as it directly relates to their current approach. This new series is more of a fantasy league or wish list. It has nothing to do with any existing film from the DC Universe. These will not be sequels or spin-offs in any way. It’s a brand new start. Think of it as The New 52 of the DC film universe. So with that, let’s get started.

One of the smart decisions by Marvel was to kick off their film franchise with Iron Man. As a character, he’s well known but not necessarily at the top tier for most fans. Logically and chronologically, if one were going to launch an Avengers universe they probably would have started with Captain America. But by starting with Iron Man, Marvel gave you a character you could relate to (in a sense) while establishing that certain fantastical things in this world are possible. It also built anticipation for what can come next. So transpose to the DC Universe, you might expect to start with Batman or Superman. However, Batman doesn’t establish what can be possible in this new universe whereas Superman establishes too much possibility all at once. You need to lead in with a strong, well known character that can kind of middle ground everything and build off of that in highs and lows like Marvel did.

So, for the first film in the New DC, I give you:

GreenLantern_TitleCard

The original Green Lantern film had some potential. But the creative team did, in my opinion at least, three things fatally wrong that lead to poor reception from both fans and critics alike. 1) Too much CGI. I’ll give them the obvious ring effect stuff and I understand why the suits were CG, but when characters like Sinestro, Abin Sur and Tomar-Re were animated over the actors portraying them it got to be too much. They need to rely more on practical effects so that the visual team could spend more time making the few visual effects look better. 2) Too much Ryan Reynolds – Not enough story. Green Lantern has a rich and slightly complicated story. They took what parts of it they wanted and cliff noted them in an ominous narration and spent the rest of the time watching Ryan Reynolds play every character he’s ever been (which is one character) in a CG suit. 3) They lead in with Parallax. The Parallax story is one of the best in comics and they flushed it away by making him the core villain of the first film. This film would have a more conservative main conflict, which would allow room to plant subtle seeds and undertones for stories to come.

While transporting the intergalactic war criminal, Atrocitus, to Oa – Green Lantern Abin Sur is fatally wounded and crash lands on Earth where fearless test pilot Hal Jordan is selected to replace him. Jordan is transported to Oa, citadel of the Guardians of the Universe and base of the Green Lantern Corps, to train. But Jordan must quickly return to Earth unprepared for the dangers ahead when he learns that Atrocitus is still on the loose.

And now, for the main event in 3… 2… 1….

Image

Guillermo Del Toro – Director

How good of a successful comic book adaptation was Hellboy? AND it used the hell out of some practical effects and everything looked great! Throw in films like Blade 2 and Pacific Rim and there’s no doubt that Del Toro is the perfect director to helm Green Lantern. His ability to tell a visual, character driven story around extraterrestrial and inter-dimensional themes with plenty of intense action is virtually unrivaled.

Image

Charlie Hunnam – Hal Jordan/Green Lantern

Having starred in Del Toro’s Pacific Rim, Hunnam has already proven his sci-fi/action hero chops as well as the emotional damage that would come with playing Hal Jordan. Not to mention the striking similarity and the fact that he can pull off wearing a sci-fi suit.

Image

Erica Durance – Carol Ferris

No stranger to the DC Universe, Durance played Lois Lane on TV’s Smallville. She has both the military brat attitude and sex appeal to easily play Ferris and the physique to throw down as Star Sapphire should the film franchise go that route with her character.

Image

William Fichtner – Sinestro

Fichtner is an amazing character actor that can pull off both action and drama. He’s still in great shape for his age and is even getting ready to throw down as The Shredder in the Michael Bay produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (however ill advised that whole film may be). Throw on some practical effect makeup and a mustache and you have one hell of a Sinestro good for a whole trilogy.

Image

Will Smith – John Stewart

Probably the least likely to ever actually happen on this list but also (I think) one of the most spot on bits of casting. Smith has had a lot of trouble lately. He’s not the marketable action start that he used to be. I mean, After Earth was awful (although that’s probably more to the fault of M. Night Shyamalan) but he walked away from that sporting a dead ringer look for Green Lantern of Sector 2814.3. If he’s willing to play ball in a supporting role with this first film (he’d just be playing John Stewart – ex-military construction worker and helpful man on the street when crap goes down against Atrocitus) he could easily take a higher profile role down the line in the sequels and Justice League franchise.

Image

Jason Momoa – Atrocitus

Momoa is actually reportedly up for a role in Man of Steel 2 (possibly as Doomsday) but since none of those existing films and projects matter here he’s a clear choice for Atrocitus. Not only for his sheer size but he also proved to play a smart and methodically villain in the tremendously underrated Bullet to the Head. Then, of course, there’s his viciousness from Game of Thrones. Again, practical makeup effects are really all you need here. CGI enhancements at best but that’s all.

Image

Christopher Lambert – Ganthet

Here’s one of the few exceptions to using CGI. In this case you’d want an actor in a MoCap suit with the visage of the Guardians animated over them. Most of the Guardians can be throwaway actors as they wouldn’t need much screen time but Ganthet needs an actor that can display the stoic look of a being who’s suppressed his feelings as well as show that glimmer of light when hope starts to get renewed. Lambert has both of those qualities, plus a raspy voice that I honestly kind of hear coming from Ganthet.

Image

Clancy Brown – Kilowog (Voice)

Again, Kilowog is a character that would almost entirely be CGI, but with less effort focused on animating half the film the visual department can make him look really good. The late Michael Clark Duncan voiced him in the original film, and it was fine, but his voice was way too recognizable. It kind of lessened the illusion. If Clancy Brown can come up with a mix between the growling tone of The Kurgen from Highlander and the over-the-top authoritativeness of Drill Sergeant Zim from Starship Troopers then you have one hell of a Kilowog!

Image

Peter Mensah – Abin Sur

I mean…just look at him. The Spartacus veteran has this character written all over him. Right down to the jaw structure!Throw some magenta on him and you’ve pretty much got it handled.

Image

Doug Jones – Tomar-Re

Another Del Toro veteran, Jones has built a career out of wearing practical effects makeup and letting other actors dub over his voice. Although he actually got to lend his own voice to Abe Sapien in Hellboy 2. That said, just look at Abe Sapien, the Silver Surfer and The Gentlemen from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Jones totally has Tomar-Re in the bag.

Image

David Thewlis – Hector Hammond

I enjoyed Peter Sarsgaard’s take on the character in the original film, but for this time out it has to go to Harry Potter alumn Peter Thewlis. He has that wormy scientist look down while also demonstrating that soft spoken intellectualism for when he’s transformed by the meteor that powers Abin Sur’s ship. He’d obviously be a second tier villain to Atrocitus but a necessary part to a Green Lantern film nonetheless.

Green Lantern: The Emerald Dawn would be the first in a trilogy that interlinks with the rest of the DC Universe. The follow up films would be Green Lantern: Revenge of the Manhunters and Green Lantern: In Blackest Night (which would actually be based more on the fall of Sinestro and not the poorly received Blackest Night crossover series).

So what did you think? Interested to see where I go from here? Tune in next week for CASTING COUCH: The DC Universe Part 2 – The Batman!