Friday, February 5, 2010

JLA: The Movie - How it should be done (Part 6)

This is simply a cast stock-taking post for our movie (trilogy which takes the form of one big adventure ala Lord of the Rings). Subsequently, I won’t ask the new readers to read the first five parts before reading the rest of this post. No, since this is a summary post, I’ll ask the newcomers to read the previous instalments AFTER reading this one.

So far, this is our cast:
Batman (Christian Bale) SUPPORTING CHARACTER
Wonder Woman (Evangeline Lilly) CENTRAL CHARACTER
Flash – Barry Allen (Chris Pine) CENTRAL POINT OF VIEW CHARACTER
Green Lantern - Hal Jordan (Nathon Fillion OR Ryan Reynolds) CENTRAL CHARACTER
Martian Manhunter (Hugo Weaving – via either FX make-up OR voice, motion capture, and CGI) CENTRAL POINT OF VIEW CHARACTER
Hawkman (various candidates) SUPPORTING CHARACTER
Hawkgirl (Jessica Biel) SUPPORTING CHARACTER
Green Arrow (various candidates) SUPPORTING CHARACTER
Black Canary (Jamie King) SUPPORTING CHARACTER
Mister Miracle (James McAvoy OR Jake Gyllenhaal) SUPPORTING CHARACTER
Booster Gold (Sean William Scott OR Jenson Ackles) CENTRAL POINT OF VIEW CHARACTER
Blue Beetle (James Roday) SUPPORTING CHARACTER
Darkseid (Clancy Brown - via either FX make-up OR voice, motion capture, and CGI) CENTRAL CHARACTER


Okay, so both Aquaman and Blue Devil have INCLUSION DOUBTFUL stamped next to their names. What gives, you ask?

Here’s the deal with Aquaman. I’m not sure how to capitalize on Aquaman in a cinematic sense without doing what Marvel would do with Namor the Sub-mariner in a movie. Yes, I could figure it out, but I don’t want to force it.

The Blue Devil case is more complex. Firstly, I initially included Blue Devil in Part 1 (which was a post on directors and done tongue in cheek) to serve as a shaky-cam viewpoint character. Secondly, I included the original incarnation of Blue Devil – the stuntman with the FX exoskeleton mystically fused to his body. That version of Blue Devil goes on to join the JLA to secretly film their missions for profit. That was the direction I was thinking of when I included him. However, the current incarnation is a real demon and when playing with some else’s toys, you should use them without damaging them. DC would probably want any film version of Blue Devil to be more faithful to the current (and probably more marketable) version.

This is different to the Blue Beetle situation as that was different guy, different powers, and the same name. The Blue Devil situation is same guy (vastly changed), different powers, and same name. Also, the three incarnations of Blue Beetle (three different guys) all had distinctly different personalities and subsequently different followings while Blue Devil (the same guy) had the same personality (modified by events) throughout his career. So, with Beetle, I cherry-picked the version I liked (and I think is the most popular, anyway).This is fanboy guilt and remorse talking here. I'm not decided either way...Some help?

By the way, my initial pick of Jensen Ackles as Blue Devil works on an acting level, but I had forgotten how tall Blue Devil is (6 foot 8 inches compared to Ackles’ 6 foot 1). Such a height and muscle mass probably makes Vin Diesel more suited to playing a screen version of Blue Devil...Jenson I like for Booster Gold

At this point, I’d like to thank LissBirds for her invaluable input to these casting decisions. I could not have gotten this far without your perspectives, Milady.

After reading the recent Comics Alliance feature on the GL Corps, I’m tempted to expand the cast with one hero (some might say this omission was a HUGE oversight on my part): Green Lantern Raker Qarrigat.

It occurs to me that we DON’T really need an Emerald Twilight situation to force Raker to “seal his ring in a time bubble, relying on it only in case of emergencies lest his final 24 hour charge run out and leave him powerless to battle” Darkseid. We could do a little tweaking and it would tie into the very nature of the planet Apokalips and the technology of the GL Corps rings.

Apokalips is impossible to get to (kind of like the island on Lost) without a boom tube, which would point to a trans-dimensional shift one has to make. One of the often glossed-over parts of GL science is the link between a Green Lantern’s battery and the central battery on OA. In the movie, we could theorize that the barrier that makes Apokalips such an “exclusive destination” may also (for the most part) sever the link between the central battery on OA and Raker’s battery. Therefore, Raker would have to use his ring’s (and battery’s) diminishing charge sparingly.

Raker would only appear near the end of the second movie or in the third movie when Hal would lead a small team to Apokalips. Hal knows about Raker and that the Guardians have lost contact with him for almost a year (meaning his ring is running on fumes). What Jordan doesn’t know is that Darkseid has manipulated them into coming, because it will draw a rapidly weakening Raker out into the open (to make contact).

After meeting Raker and other resistance members, Hal’s team realizes their mistake. After activating a boom tube with Barda’s help, Hal asks Raker to come with them. A near powerless Raker refuses to leave, rather opting to continue helping the resistance on Apokalips instead.

Raker gets captured by Darkseid, but what the ruler of Apokalips doesn’t realise is that Hal and Raker switched rings before they parted. Ouch!

Casting note: We should cast an unknown as Raker Qarrigat.

Having our cast set (for the most part), you’ll see that it’s mostly JLA classic (Big Seven) with some additions plus a smattering of the Giffen JLI and a pinch of the modern league era. Sadly, no members exclusively from the Detroit league found a spot in the movie. There are some heroes who were unlucky not to be in the movie (e.g. the Atom and, one of my personal faves, Metamorpho).

It might not be obvious, but with such a large cast of heroes our JLA can split up into three groups at any given time. This will come in handy as most of the action takes place on Earth and Apokalips and New Genesis simultaneously.

A very late after-though:

After nailing down most of the cast, it was ONLY THEN that it occurred to me to look for other fan attempts at casting a league. *facepalm* Here are the most notable of these:

The most comprehensive cast was compiled by THEHAWK. I had come across this months ago, but lost the link. So, I’m pretty glad that I’ve rediscovered this little gem (hehe). The one that gets me is Ben McKenzie (from The OC who is super-puny) as the Detriot League’s Steel (who is super-muscular) and as you’ve read that character isn’t even in my movie, so the mere strength of my disagreement compels me to mention it here.

Another cast list was proffered by The Faust. The Faust is a pretty prolific “fan-caster” of comic book movies and makes some interesting choices. On the positive side, he includes a synopsis of his proposed plot and I’ll admit that next our Apokalips plot, his is my second choice. In fact, if we went in that direction, I’d go further a step and suggest a plot involving The Joining (from Batman: The Brave and Bold). However, I can’t agree with his picks for Aquaman, Hal Jordan, or Superman.

I found a pretty reasonable cast list from Comics in Crisis as well. This is a pretty sober list, except for suggestions of who should play Wonder Woman and Hawkman. The blogger also picked a cool non-JLA hero as the plot catalyst for the JLA to team up, although I don’t agree with the actor chosen to play this hero.

I also came across three other single-author lists. This one gets Superman wrong (I’m forever biased against this choice, I know), Hawkgirl incredibly right, and gives us an Aquaman I don’t recognise.

The other one has the perplexing suggestion of Leonardo Di Caprio as Aquaman! Yup, some choices are pretty insane.

Then there's this list with the same title but different actors.

Of course, even insane choices can remind you of another actor in a Kevin Bacon game sort of way. You know, you read the fan choice of Actor X as Superman. This guy’s nuts, you think. Actor X doesn’t look like Supes and none of his roles gives any hint of him being Kal El or Clark Kent material. But just as quickly, you think about a co-star of Actor X as the perfect Aquaman. Fantastic! I would have never thought of him if it weren’t for the crazy intertubes guy who suggested Actor X play Supes. So, we should pay attention to lists that in our opinion get it wrong.

I’ve also come across a non-movie-related, cast-the-league-into-the-archetypes discussion. Might help anyone involved in writing a superhero team movie where the source material (and membership) is vast and you’ve got no clue which heroes to include.

Another Justice League movie fan plot summary can be read here where one of the commenters even outlines his preferred plan for a four-part series of JLA movies.

All in all, I hope future JLA screenwriters would explore the interwebs for some inspiration. They don’t have to adopt the plots and casts in a wholesale manner, but they could always borrow a few clever angles. It’s pretty easy to do. All I did here to find all the above lists was Google JLA movie and the word cast and a few variations. Not hard to do at all.

Here that obligatory notice I usually put at the start of these posts:

For those first-time readers, please read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 to see the rest of this fanboy thought experiment.


  1. Thanks for the shout out!

    Just a few quick comments (will comment in depth later when I can get a spare moment!)

    I understand your reservations about Blue Devil. But, at the other hand, I think it would incredibly awesome to see Blue Devil together with the Phantom Stranger. (I know you haven't mentioned the latter, but he's my current Obsession of the Month so I had to mention him.) Going the mystical route might mean that you need to include the others, like Dr. Fate and Zatanna, so that's yet another dimension that you may or may not want to pursue.

    Gotta check all those links you mentioned, especially the archetypes one. I think great storytelling depends on them. Hey, it worked for Lucas...before all that...Jar Jar stuff.

  2. Liam Neeson as Phantom Stranger...hmmm...I could almost see that. Though I think I'd rather see an under-the-radar veteran actor instead. But the Rock as Captain Marvel?! Jim Carrey as Plastic Man...I think he was born for that role. I could also see Lance Reddick (Abaddon from Lost) as J'onn. And no to Edward Norton (who I like, just not as this character) as Atom...the Atom should be older, mid-forties. And no to John Cusack as The Question. It could just be the guy who did his voice on the animated series...whose name escapes me.

    "but what the ruler of Apokalips doesn’t realise is that Hal and Raker switched rings before they parted."

    You are the King of Ironic Plot Twists, I see. I like the Raker Qarrigat angle. Mixing GL's and Apokolips makes me think of Another Nail where Barda is chosen to be a GL and Scott's consciousness gets transferred to her ring...

    And in an interview after Tuesday's premiere of Lost, Evangeline Lilly said she's done with acting! How sad is that? She wants to work behind the scenes.

    As for which Blue Devil version...hmm. I think I like the current demon one, which is a big deal for me to say because I always prefer the "original" versions of characters. (Whatever that may be.)

  3. You want Phantom Stranger? There is a way - although it would be inspired by this kind ODD Superman story set in the wake of Our Worlds at War...In it Phantom Stranger, Zeus, Highfather, and Merlin are portrayed as being of equal power...Well, that’s the way they came off – they were all giant floating heads, standing (or levitating) in judgement of Superman for his status as a Nexus Being*.

    A nexus being is someone who can change how the universe and time or destiny plays out – in this case he made a plea to someone who changed their destiny and that of the universe...Basically, by loving humanity, his love changed destiny

    Then, there were these weird time-travel police type peeps who were like the prosecutors...Then Steel showed up wearing the all-powerful Entropy Aegis armour and the giant heads became shocked or scared (I can’t remember). It reminded me of the Epic of Gilgamesh, where the gods sends storms and floods, then became scared of their own storms that they hid in their corners... Like I said, it was an ODD Superman story.

    Anyway, we could have Phantom Stranger appearing mostly just to Booster as a character who cannot help, but is convinced that Booster Gold is some sort Second Order Nexus Being (or SONB). By SONB, I mean someone who changes history/destiny in the right way by making the wrong decisions and taking the wrong options (e.g. the Ted Kord / Ted Knight thing, etcetera). By ‘wrong’, I mean “not pre-destined as being the best way” or “not likely (according to fate) to have the best outcome.” Basically, Booster is doing things that should be disastrous but somehow aren’t. It could be that through Booster’s adoration of the league and his desire to emulate them, he may be able to change destiny or fate itself...

    The Rock has always been my pick as Black Adam, but not as the big red cheese. Yes, Jim Carrey IS Plastic Man. You know Lance Reddick is one of the few actors who could do a SF make-up OR a CGI voice version of Martian Manhunter. He’s shown a lot of skin on The Wire – he has a lot of lean muscle. He’s good actor, won’t look bulky under layers of make-up, and his voice is within the range of JJ.

    John Cusack was exactly who I was referring to in the post – cool, original character inclusion yet the actor isn’t appropriate.

  4. I just finished going through the comments of THEHAWK’s cast list (I’m a sucker for punishment) and someone mentioned Jared Padelecki as Nightwing (in a Teen Titans movie). That reminded me of your *feelings* toward Nightwing and my sister’s feelings toward Padelecki’s character Sam Winchester (in Supernatural). My sister once said, “You know, there always has to be this whiny character in every cool show,” and then doing her best squeaky voice impersonation of Sam, “Dean, maybe we shouldn’t...Dean, you can’t just...Dean, shouldn’t we rather...” I’m not sure the character is THAT whiny, but sometimes (when compared to his brother, Jensen Ackles’s character) he comes off that way. Anyway, I sprayed some coffee at the thought. Jared reminds me of this Nightwing black and white cover / ad where he was walking through shallow ankle-length water... It while Scott McCloud was writing Nightwing in the 90s – Dick was sporting just shorter shoulder-lengths hair (not in a ponytail).

    Raker has the toughest beat (sector) in the universe and there was no way he was giving up on it. The twist came about quite naturally, because the manipulation was a typical Darkseid move in the fashion of “Oh, you thought attacking me at that exact time at that exact place was your idea? It wasn’t. Nothing happens on Apokalips without my knowledge, worms!” The ring switch is something I’ve seen Hal and Kyle do against Sinestro, because Hal’s ring had this “protects the wearer from mortal injury” capability.

    Evageline Lilly done with acting?? No!!! They all want to be behind the scenes eventually. I suppose the behind-the-scenes stuff (in particular directing or producing) is like writing is to writers – you can make any story happen and make your characters do anything (obey your vision). Acting is obeying the vision and string-tugs of others, perhaps? Hey, I’m going to pretend that she’ll accept the WW role even if she's retired.

  5. I rather like the idea of the Phantom Stranger interacting with Booster Gold. And Booster Gold has a unique interaction with fate/destiny in the DCU, so that makes a lot of sense.

    Rock at Black Adam...that makes sense! Lance Reddick really has the gravitas to play JJ, doesn't he?

    Your sister sounds like me when I am subjected to anything Twilight. Deadpan voice: "Hey, Bella. I have no personality. Hey. I'm cool. I sparkle. Hang out with me." Maybe it's wrong, but I've built up this idea in my mind of Nightwing as the emo-whiny-lady's-man. (Scipio contributed to the former:

    (As always, Scipio puts my feelings into words better than I can myself.)

    I can't believe Evangeline Lilly is done with acting, considering that Lost was pretty much her only acting gig. I think she did a few commercials before and that's it! (Which is amazing when you think about it.) She always struck me as kind of shy, so maybe she'd rather be out-of-sight but still working in show business. Or she wants more creative control, like you said.

    BTW, did you get the link to my blog? it was in the comments to your Part V post....I think.