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May 23, 2011

Top Five: Marvel Actors Who Should Be In DC Movies

Posted by on May 23, 2011
Marvel and DC

Up is down, black is white, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together…mass hysteria!  That’s what it can feel like in the continuity-obsessive comic book world when film adaptations continually cast from the same, relatively limited, stable of actors.  Chris Evans, formerly known as Johnny “The Human Torch” Storm, will be in theaters this summer playing Captain America, another Marvel Comics character.  Ryan Reynolds is not only Hannibal King and Wade Wilson/Deadpool for Marvel, he’s also Hal Jordan for DC.  To make matters worse, these casting decisions often disregard decades of established character history.  Admittedly, some actors were born for certain roles.  To wit, even though Wolverine is listed at 5′ 3″, 6′ 3″ Hugh Jackman’s adamantium skeleton and retractable claws pretty much guaranteed him the part.

Although I was always told not to cross the streams, whether nerds like me like it or not, this cross-universe casting seems here to stay.  So, when life gives you lemons, make a Top Five.

1.  James Marsden (X-Men) as Barry Allen/The Flash

In 2004, DC released the Geoff Johns scripted “Green Lantern: Rebirth”, a miniseries reintroducing the Silver Age Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, to the DC Universe.  Through it, and subsequent event storylines “Blackest Night” and “Brightest Day”, Johns took a character that hadn’t been relevant in years and made him the center of the DCU, garnering both critical and commercial success.  And, as we’ve already discussed, this summer we’ll be seeing that character in theaters.  Well, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Johns, now Chief Creative Officer at DC and “architect” of the DCU, brought back another Silver PAge hero, Barry Allen, in 2009′s “The Flash: Rebirth”.  As this summer’s event storyline at DC is the subtly named “Flashpoint”, it isn’t hard to imagine a Flash movie sprinting onto a screen near you sometime soon.  Although Ryan Reynolds was the last big name to be attached to the role (seriously, this guy is the town doorknob of comic book character actors), now that he’s committed to the Green Lantern franchise it seems highly unlikely that he would also play The Flash.

Based on years of hating the character (Jean<3Logan), I knew James Marsden was a good actor when he actually made me enjoy Cyclops in the X-Men films. A significant talent (see Hairspray) he has, in my opinion, been largely wasted in throwaway romcoms over the last couple of years.  He was also largely wasted in Superman Returns, but since DC seems pretty eager to forget about that one, I’m willing to make an exception and let him back into the DCU.  Barry Allen, a forensic scientist by trade, is known for being by the book (as far as costumed vigilantes go).  Marsden, a born leading man, has already proved (during his time as Cyclops) that he has enough natural charisma to make such a character enjoyable onscreen.

2.  Emma Stone (The Amazing Spider-Man) as Kara Zor-El/Supergirl

Beginning of rant.  Since we brought him up, let’s be honest.  Superman is a stooge.  His only weaknesses are Kryptonite and the unremitting monotony of everything he ever does.  Ever.  And, whether he’s the bumbling Clark Kent or the stoic Man of Steel, a slightly antagonistic, significantly more entertaining companion is usually Superman’s greatest strength (see anytime Batman and Superman team up).  Usually this role is played by Lois Lane, but, unfortunately, Lois is squishy and can’t fly with Superman into battle.  And, as Superman Returns proved, it doesn’t matter how talented the actor, Kryponite induced grimacing does not an action scene make.  End of rant.

It’s already been confirmed that the Zack Snyder helmed, Christopher Nolan produced Man of Steel will feature the Kryptonian General Zod as the film’s villain (with a few of his Krytonian soldiers in tow for good measure).  This is a definite step in the right direction for the Superman film franchise.  Having already opened the door to the possibility of other surviving Kryptonians, should Man of Steel do well enough to warrant a sequel, the addition of Supergirl is pretty much a no-brainer.  Kal-El’s counsin should be able to trade one liners just as effectively as she trades punches, and, in films like Superbad and Easy A, Emma Stone has shown she can banter with the best of them.  For her moxie and her already significant physical resemblance, Stone’s our top pick to take flight as Supergirl.

3.  Tom Hiddleston (Thor) as Dr. Thomas Elliot/Hush

Though many of the production details are being kept tightly under wraps, we do know that The Dark Knight Rises will be the last of the Batman films to feature Christian Bale in the lead.  And, though filming has just begun on the third Nolan film, there are already plans to reboot the franchise.  Although a recent attempt to bring the Justice League to theaters stalled, it appears another effort will be made (with concurrent Batman films set in the same universe) after The Dark Knight Rises, this time under the watchful eye of Christopher Nolan.  Last time, Batman was to be played by Armie Hammer (an excellent choice).  And, even if he isn’t recast for the role, it gives us an approximate idea of what age Bruce would be in any future film installments.

A childhood friend of Bruce Wayne, Thomas Elliot has always envied Bruce.  And (for reasons I won’t get into in case you haven’t read the excellent Hush graphic novel) he also blames Bruce for much of the trouble in his life.  While Bruce was traveling the world preparing himself to become Batman, Thomas did some training of his own, becoming a world class surgeon (among other things).  Any actor chosen for the role of Hush would need to be convincing as both a billionaire playboy and as a masked villain, driven by jealous rage.  Hiddleston has the age, demeanor, and acting chops to pull off all of that and then some.  In fact, the relationship between Hush and Batman is very similar to another, recent, onscreen one: that of Loki and Thor.  Hush is not only an incredibly interesting member of Batman’s rogues gallery, he would also fit in very well in the more “realistic” Gotham City that Nolan prefers.

4.  Idris Elba (Thor) as Jason Blood/Etrigan

In the wake of its blockbuster movie successes, Marvel has decided that it’s now time for something completely different.  Over the next couple of years, in addition to your Iron Mans and your Thors and such, we’ll also be getting several smaller budget films featuring less recognizable characters, such as Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Dr. Strange.  This is very cool, and hopefully DC will get their act together and do something similar.  Let me be the first to say that an Etrigan movie needs to happen.

As a way to control the demon Etrigan, Merlin binds him to one of King Arthur’s knights, Jason Blood.  This binding grants Blood immortality and the ability to unleash the demon at will.  However, only one of the two are ever present.  So, while Blood can summon Etrigan, he can’t control him.  This leads Blood to struggle with the morality of unleashing Etrigan to do good.  In the excellent BBC series Luther, Idris Elba plays the eponymous detective who often struggles with similar issues, forced to choose between following the law and solving the case.  He’s also Stringer Bell.

5.  Cobie Smulders (The Avengers) as Wonder Woman

The last of DC’s “Big Three” to hit the big screen, a Wonder Woman movie (in one form or another) has been in development hell for the last decade.  Joss Whedon worked on the film for two years (2005-2007), during which time Smulders was the rumored front-runner for the role.  Although Whedon would eventually depart the project due to creative differences with Warner Bros. (seriously, when will people learn to let Whedon do his thing?), he has since cast Smulders as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill. You probably know her from “How I Met Your Mother”, but (in a slight betrayal of our own standards) she also appeared in one episode of Smallville.

It’s not hard to see why she was considered for Diana, based on her striking similarity alone. And, though the majority of her roles thus far have been comedic, that could come in handy when trying to make audiences empathize with a character who is often portrayed as aloof and condescending, even when among other superheroes.  She’ll also be getting her action movie merit badge next summer in The Avengers.  Should a Wonder Woman film ever materialize, Smulders may be the only woman in Hollywood worthy of the mantle of Diana of Themyscira, Princess of the Amazons.


So, who did we miss?