Considering the speed with which Hollywood usually cashes in on a smash hit, we were frankly a little surprised that it took a full month for the staggering opening weekend of The Avengers to get the long-gestating film version of DC’s equivalent all-star superhero franchise going. But as Variety reports , it’s not that it just happened, it’s that it just broke — Warner Brothers, which holds the film rights to the DC characters, put screenwriter Will Beall (who penned the forthcoming Gangster Squad) on the job of writing a film version of Justice League last year, a “top-secret hire” which, according to the industry paper, “was more in anticipation of — rather than a reaction to—the box office success of The Avengers.” So the Justice League movie is happening — but filling it with superheroes will be easier said than done. Who should play them? We’ve got some ideas after the jump — and we’d love to hear yours.
Warners has tried before to bring the group (which, for those of us of a certain age and cartoon-watching disposition, has always been and will always be the Super Friends, thank you very much) to the screen, with George Miller (of the Mad Max and Babe films) directing and a cast that included Adam Brody and a pre-Social Network Armie Hammer. Hammer was set to play Bruce Wayne/Batman, which /film notes would mean that the Justice League film would not take place in the same world as Christopher Nolan’s (and Christian Bale’s).
And there you have the main difference between The Avengers and Justice League: Avengers was the product of four years of careful preparation, from Iron Man forward, with the characters established separately and their eventual assembling teased out in each picture. But Warner’s DC properties are in no such condition: Bale’s Batman presumably won’t be involved, last year’s Green Lantern tanked, and though the Superman reboot Man of Steel is still in production, we don’t have the highest hopes (considering it’s the work of Sucker Punch director Zack Snyder). What they’re going to have to do, it seems, is wipe the slate clean. And if that’s the case, hey, we’ve all got some ideas about how to cast a Justice League movie, right?
There have been numerous iterations of the group, from the original team created back in 1960, new recruits added in the 1970s and 1980s, various offshoots in the 1990s and 2000s, and the reboot last year. We’re gonna go ahead and assume that the reboot team is most likely to be the film’s, since it’s got most of your name heroes. And thus, our suggestions for casting the Justice League movie:
It’s not all that surprising that Snyder went with an unknown for Man of Steel — if you haven’t noticed, there’s a serious shortage of solid, interesting, young leading men in Hollywood these days (which is part of why so many people wanted Jon Hamm, by his own admission too long in the tooth, to play the role). Andrew Garfield could probably pull it off, but he’s already attached to Spider-Man; Hunger Games star Josh Hutcherson is a possibility, but he’s all of 19 and looks it. Our pick, truth be told, is kind of a predictable one: Tom Welling played Clark Kent for ten years on TV’s Smallville, and did it well. If Justice League does end up disconnected from Man of Steel, casting Welling may be the closest thing Warner Brothers has to an Avengers-style connection to their film.
Christian Bale has so convincingly become Bruce Wayne and Batman in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films that we tend to forget that he’s actually Welsh, but that may very well be how we came to our perhaps unconventional decision on who should play the role for Justice League — since we also went across the pond. As we noted when offering up potential new action heroes last winter, you don’t tend to think of Daniel Radcliffe as an action hero, except when you realize that the later Harry Potter movies were, for lack of a better description, action films. We tend to hang on to our image of Radcliffe as a tiny boy wizard, but he’s all grown up now, and is a fine actor to boot (as anyone who’s seen his stage work can attest). We’d like to see what he could do with the role.
Lynda Carter’s portrayal of Wonder Woman on the 1975-1979 TV series was so iconic that it almost seems to have doomed the high-profile attempts to bring the character back into mass media: a circa-2001 Joel Silver-produced film version (with Sandra Bullock reportedly a favorite for the role) got stuck in development hell; a few years later, Joss Whedon was hired to write and direct Wonder Woman, but he parted ways with Warner Brothers after two years of false starts, noting, “I would go back in a heartbeat if I believed that anybody believed in what I was doing. The lack of enthusiasm was overwhelming.” (We’ve got a feeling they might be a bit more enthusiastic now, but we digress.) And then there was NBC’s attempt to restart the show in 2011, which never made it past the pilot stage. Make no mistake, it’s a tough role — Wonder Woman has to be simultaneously tough, smart, powerful, and wicked hot. Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn has made it clear that a WW film is his dream project, with Drive (and Mad Men) co-star Christina Hendricks in the lead. In the spirit of leaving the stand-alones alone, we’ll instead fill the role in our hypothetical cast with the lovely Mila Kunis, who we’ll admit is a little short in stature compared to, say, Carter (or Hendricks), but has all of the character’s other qualities in spades.
Shaking off the stench of last year’s ill-fated Green Lantern film is going to take something wild, radical, and unexpected. Maybe it’s doing as the comic books have and making the Justice League’s version of Green Lantern not Hal Jordan (who Ryan Reynolds played in Green Lantern), but Alan Scott, who was recently outed as gay. We’d like to humbly suggest the casting of Flavorwire fave Donald Glover, who started a Twitter campaign get himself an audition for Spider-Man back in 2010. He didn’t get that role, but why not this one? (And for those who get hung up on these things — if they chose to, they could cast Glover as the John Stewart version of Green Lantern, who was, yes, African-American.)
The Flash, too, is a character that’s been knocking around Warner Brothers for years, with Batman Begins co-writer David S. Goyer, Wedding Crashers director David Dobkin, and Night at the Museum director Shawn Levy all attached at various points. We’re not sure why they wanted to badly to put a comedy director in charge of the franchise, but if they see him that way, we may as well too: how’s about Glover’s Community co-star Joel McHale for the role? He’s a funny guy and a fine actor, but also in good enough shape to make Flash’s superhuman speed credible. Well, credible for a superhero movie.
Probably the least-known of the bunch (to those of us who know our superheroes from cartoons and movies, anyway), Cyborg — aka Victor Stone — is the African-American son of two scientists, who use him as a test subject for intelligence enhancement before he’s nearly killed by a monster, causing his father to replace parts of his body with prosthetics. So the actor playing Cyborg has to be able to convey high intelligence, while working from within a half-robot exterior. Sorry, but we’re going back to our list of should-be action stars: Friday Night Lights, The Wire, and Parenthood’s Michael B. Jordan, who has since proven himself a big-screen attraction with a co-starring role in the spring found-footage superhero hit Chronicle.
Oh, come on. Like it matters who plays Aquaman.
Those are our picks — what are yours? Cast your own Justice League in the comments.