Every day seems to bring more news from the little movie studio that could… become a giant, all pop culture consuming space monarch that traverses the galaxy eating our money and attention for its apparently eternal sustenance. (I’m saying Marvel Studios is becoming its own (metaphorical) Galactus, and not the puny space cloud version from the Fox movies.) Karen Gillan — along with, it seems, everybody else — is joining Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy as an unnamed villainess, and last month The Hollywood Reporter, er, reported on several properties that the burgeoning behemoth is gearing up to make, or re-make, in the next few years beyond their current “Phase 2” plans. So we can look forward, with undoubtedly diminishing returns, to another half-decade of Marvel Studios news at least. Yay?
Well, with some of the mentioned projects, yes, indeed, yay. Along with Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man, there are several characters who are interesting enough on the page to merit their own films even if they haven’t yet become household names. I already wrote about what could be done with the mostly maligned Daredevil franchise, so let’s keep going and imagine who could play the roles of some of Marvel’s never-3rd-tier-in-our-hearts heroes. The articles linked above mention The Runaways as a possible movie, but that is one series and set of characters I am sadly ignorant on, so I can’t dream cast them yet. Feel free to do so in the comics if you like, but please refrain from telling me I have to read it. I know I do, I’ve heard.
Before somebody, somewhere wants to keep making Ghost Rider movies with or without Nicolas Cage*, let’s see what else we have to work with, shall we?
Katee Sackhoff as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel
Carol Danvers is a f*cked up character. Her story, over decades featured in other characters’ arcs, of becoming the cosmically powered Captain Marvel is one of the most confusing and reprehnsible in all of comics. It’s much too long to go into and far too incoherent to even attempt half of it in a movie. But good writers have proven she can be one of the most engaging heroes in the whole universe, and while her movie would have to be much bigger in scope than where Kelly Sue Deconnick’s first issues start in her recent series that’s the characterization I’d love to see. The noble but risk-taking pilot, whose never far from a quip and is trusted to get the job done — like Green Lantern but interesting. Just streamline her origin and put Katee Sackhoff in that flightsuit, one she already proved more than capable of wearing in “Battlestar Galactica.” This is such a no-brainer to me, and the entire reason I’m doing this list.
Richard Madden as Doctor Strange
After being cast as the latest Prince Charming, it seemed likely that Robb Stark’s last days on “Game of Thrones” could be in the offing. Forget about book-reading spoilers, the trades can be worse. But that would mean Richard Madden could have a lot of free time on his schedule coming up, so why not combine his two famous roles — the aforementioned charming prince and the King in the North of Westeros — and cast him as Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme? Stephen Strange is a subtly challenging role, needing to be taken seriously as a surgeon, an actual mystic, and a ladies’ man all while dressed as Disco Merlin and sporting a ‘stache that Tom Selleck would mock but secretly covet. I don’t know about that outfit, but Madden was believable as the smirkily dour Robb and can grow some decent facial hair. He’s got to be a better pick than Patrick Dempsey, anyway.
Michael Jai White as Blade 3.0
Blade, as originally portrayed by Wesley Snipes, has already been rebooted in a TV show starring Sticky Fingaz, and both were at least marginal successes, so it’s no surprise that Marvel wants to another go at the guy. As a half human/vampire hybrid who was created as a response to blaxploitation cinema and dressed in all black leather before The Matrix made it cool, he’s a pretty strong character on paper. It’s no surprise, then, that Black Dynamite himself, Michael Jai White, is often the most rumored and talked about to take over from Snipes. As a movie martial artist, White has basically been preparing for this role for years, and he’s a much better actor than a cursory glance at his resume might suggest. So let’s give it to the man, already, Marvel. Just get a not-horrible script and some decent effects, and this new Blade could easily become the next, well, Blade.
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Black Panther
Black Panther is more than just one of the first, if not the first, black superhero in modern superhero comic books, he’s also the ruler of his own fictionalized African nation, Wakanda. He’s an important and popular character in the Marvel U and in fandom, and as such, he needs a better actor than a straight-up bruiser type. (No offense to Mssrs. White or Crews.) He’s more thoughtful than violent, though he can stand toe-to-toe with any of the Marvel gods and super soldiers, and his most dangerous weapon isn’t a tactile object, but his passion. He’d have to be wearing a full face mask for large chunks of time, but Chiwetel Ejiofor is talented enough to overcome that to play the part of a proud man defending his homeland. If Maguire can do it, Ejiofor can. And this time he’d get to be the badass and the hero.
Jason Statham and Terry Crews as Iron Fist and Power Man, the Heroes for Hire
In my “research” for this list, I came across several other dream casting choices for Luke Cage, aka Power Man, including: The Rock, Tyrese Gibson, Idris Elba, the aforementioned Michael Jai White, the Old Spice “I’m on a horse” Guy, and pretty much every other muscly black actor in Hollywood. Terry Crews is another, no doubt due to his physique, his charisma, and his penchant for screaming while shirtless. All of those are important attributes, and no doubt the other fellows would be entertaining in their own right, but Crews also just showed he can actually play a fully-realized human being in season 4 of “Arrested Development.” Naturally, a cartoonishly over exaggerated human being, but that’s exactly what somebody who willingly called himself “Power Man” requires. As for Iron Fist, I initially thought about race-bending Danny Rand into Byung Hun Lee, because he always wears a mask anyway and who needs another White Man Saves the Day movie? I mean, if Donald Glover is ever going to be Spider-Man, we’ve got to start somewhere, don’t we? But then I remembered that Jason Statham exists and is perfect for an over powered martial artist with a vengeance complex. Now all is right with the world.
Well not right right. Racism still exists, too. But you know what I mean.
* Who would want to make a Ghost Rider movie without Nicolas Cage?