As the comic book movie deluge rages on, casting directors all over Hollywood search for great actors to fill iconic roles…and spandex outfits without looking utterly ridiculous. It’s not an easy task. For every Hugh Jackman or Michelle Pfeiffer–someone who plays their role totally straight without a hint of feeling ridiculous buried under layers of makeup and spandex–a Halle Berry or George Clooney–someone who just looks like they feel stupid and embarrassed in their wig and costume–sinks the whole movie.
In other words, casting comic book films isn’t easy, but when a movie finds the right actor for a role–Heath Ledger as the Joker, Christopher Reeve as Superman–the movie takes flight. After all, does anyone seriously believe that an R-rated movie based on a second-tier character like Deadpool would have done outrageous business without the casting of Ryan Reynolds? He seems born to play the role!
Therefore, Hollywood, if you’re paying attention (and you damn well should be), submitted for your review are these 10 lions of acting, each a major award winner or nominee, who need to turn up in a comic book movie as soon as possible. Some of them aren’t getting any younger!
10. Forest Whitaker – Martian Manhunter
Whitaker has the personality of a teddy bear: soft spoken, thoughtful and oh-so gentle, you just want to give the man a hug! He’s also one hell of an actor and a director, as his filmography will attest. The great thing about Forrest Whitaker, like so many of the actors on this list, is that he can do just about anything.
Case in point: his Oscar-winning turn in The Last King of Scotland playing murderous dictator Idi Amin. For a man more Winnie the Pooh than Disney Villain, the transformation is remarkable. Somebody put this man to work!
Our dream casting: It’s hard to go wrong with Whitaker, but he would make for an interesting Martian Manhunter. Should his body type not prove conducive to the part, there is always motion capture.
9. Frank Langella – Darkseid
Yes, Langella already showed up in Superman Returns in the role of Perry White, but his part was so small, and the movie is so forgotten, does that really count? Much more memorable: Langella’s performances as the embodiment of all that is evil, Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon and the evil sorcerer Skeletor in Masters of the Universe. In particular, the latter role should endear him to casting directors, since he is nothing short of astonishing in a lackluster movie. His Skeletor is a villain for the ages.
Our dream casting: Since Masters borrowed heavily from the New Gods comics, why not just go all the way with him: Darkseid.
8. Jodie Foster – Circe
Foster might well have been the actress of the 1990s, but since then, she’s lowered her profile to spend time with her wife and kids. Nevertheless, Foster still performs at the top of her game, and somebody needs to take advantage of her gifts! Ms. Foster tends to do best in thoughtful, unconventionally sexy roles, and God knows comic books have no shortage of them!
Our dream casting: Why not go the full vamp with Foster, and cast her as the anti-Clarice Starling: Circe! The thought of her slinking across the screen in a green toga is too much to resist!
7. Johnny Depp – Brainiac
Depp might well be the greatest actor of his generation, a distinction overlooked as of late thanks to one too many Pirates of the Caribbean outings and a few flop attempts at non-franchise roles. How quickly we forget! Depp can convey inner demons (Sweeney Todd), total madness (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) or downright creepy (The Astronaut’s Wife). He’s a master performer, capable of brilliance.
Our dream casting: What do you get when you combine bloodlust, insanity and quiet creepiness? There’s only one logical conclusion: Brainiac!
6. Julianne Moore – Batwoman
Julianne Moore has appeared in her share of dud films (The Seventh Son? Evolution, anyone?), but that doesn’t make her any less of a gifted performer. For confirmation, see her incredible performance in 2014’s Still Alice which nabbed her an Academy Award. Without her, it’s little more than a Lifetime movie. Moore is an acting treasure, and the cinematic comic universe needs her!
Our dream casting: Given that Ben Affleck‘s Batman in the new DCCU is supposed to be a bit “older” (cough), why not cast Moore as Gotham’s favorite ginger? Batwoman! Kate broke new ground in comics, and Moore would do the same with the part on screen.
5. Meryl Streep – Granny Goodness
Critics hail Streep as the greatest actress alive (I dissent), and it seems every year she lands another Oscar nomination for doing less and less. What Streep needs to do, both to save her acting ability and to spice up her resume, is play against type. A comic book film would cleanse the palate of her work in campfests Mamma Mia! and Into the Woods and let her expand her already-enormous range.
Our dream casting: Push Meryl to her limits! Forget the songstress Earth mother and cast her as one of the biggest MOTHERS of them all: Granny Goodness!
4. Sigourney Weaver – Empress Lilandra
Siren of sci-fi Weaver already has one hell of a legacy: Ghostbusters, Galaxy Quest and the Alien series, among others. Isn’t it high time she took the full plunge into comic book icon? Hollywood gossip holds that writers Mike Doughty and Dan Harris wanted Weaver for a role in the third X-Men film when Bryan Singer was still set to direct–Emma Frost. Weaver would have made an intriguing choice for the role, and as an actress who specializes in playing athletic, intelligent women, the X-Men universe would be a great fit.
Our dream casting: Keep Weaver with the X-Men where she belongs! Should the movies attempt a proper adaptation of the Phoenix saga, why not use her as Empress Lilandra?
3. Helen Mirren – Dr. Leslie Tompkins
A joke on Modern Family once teased that Mirren was such a good actress, she could play Batman. While that casting would make for an interesting movie, Hollywood should actually tap Mirren for a film that at least has a chance of getting made! Mirren can make any role compelling, but makes for the most fun in an action-type role (see also: RED). Give the grand Dame a part already!
Our dream casting: Mirren would make one hell of a Hippolita. Barring that, paging Dr. Leslie Tompkins!
2. Terence Stamp – Allan Quatermain
Ok, so Stamp has already become the definitive General Zod, courtesy of Richard Donner’s Superman. But that was damn near 40 years ago! The man is a treasure, and it’s our loss that we’ve not seen him take on another comic book role. He lost out Magneto to Ian McKellen, which isn’t exactly a bad thing (we love you Ian!), and Stamp has aged quite a bit. Casting him in the DCCU or MCU might be a bit awkward because of his past as Zod, but that doesn’t rule out other interesting roles…
Our dream casting: Allan Quatermain in a reboot of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Stamp has the right look and the right gravitas to make an aging Quatermain into a great action hero!
1. Lance Henriksen – Cable
Another icon of sci-fi and horror, Henriksen never gets enough credit as a pensive, brooding actor. For proof, check out his work in Aliens, The Terminator or on the cult TV show Millennium: by turns, he plays tough, intelligent, hostile and sensitive. An actor with such a strong genre pedigree deserves a plumb role in an ongoing comic franchise.
We think he’d be great as Cable in the X-men series.