Casting Call For The Next Avengers

As The Avengers racks up at the box office, speculation has naturally turned to the inevitable sequel. Aside from an official announcement by Disney and Marvel Studios, very little is known about the sequel. But as with most follow ups, new characters are introduced to keep things interesting and an Avengers 2 wouldn’t be an exception to this thanks to Marvel Comics’ abundance of characters. The Avengers team has been made up of many different superheroes that would make exciting additions to the core roster used in The Avengers. So who could be tapped to play some of these heroes? These are our picks:

Henry Pym/Giant-Man/Ant-Man: Lately there has been speculation about efforts to greenlight an Ant-Man film. Well, Marvel Studios may want to table that for now and use this original Avenger in the sequel. One way to go is with the controversial character development of having Pym being an abusive husband wracked with insecurities. This may or may not turn off mainstream audiences expecting another rousing adventure but if handled correctly, Pym could be an interesting addition. For the actor to play Pym, Marvel should go with Aaron Eckhart. He looks heroic and sympathetic but can play conflicted characters as seen with his performance as Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight. Plus, he’s played a scientist before in The Core, which is Pym’s occupation. Alternate actors: Adrian Pasdar; Damien Lewis; Josh Brolin.

Janet Pym/The Wasp: This diminutive superheroine goes hand in hand with her husband Henry. As a founding member of the Avengers, Janet is rich, spunky and her wasp stings carry some surprising punch. In other words, the actress to portray her has to be beautiful, with a bit of an aristocratic flair while being tough yet personable. For this reason, Elizabeth Banks should play Janet Pym. She’s had experience in the superhero movies with her portrayal of Betty Brant in the Spider-Man films, but now that she has more clout as an actress she can have a more substantive role as the Wasp. Alternate actresses: Rachel McAdams; Eva Green; Noomi Rapace.

Wanda Maximoff/The Scarlet Witch: It would’ve been funny to have Scarlett Johansson playing the Scarlet Witch just for the bad puns. But since that won’t happen, this mutant who can alter probability needs to be portrayed by someone that is beautiful and can give off a slightly exotic and mysterious flair. If Joss Whedon is involved with the sequel he can turn to Firefly alumnae Morena Baccarin. It’s so easy to imagine her doing Wanda’s dramatic hand motions to shoot her hex bolts. Alternate actresses: Lynn Collins; Mila Kunis; Gemma Arterton.

Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver: As Wanda’s headstrong brother, this super-fast mutant can be cocky and disruptive but harbor a troubled soul. Sam Witwer is doing an excellent job playing a conflicted vampire in Syfy’s version of Being Human so this role should suit him nicely. Besides Witwer’s got that expressive eyebrow that Quicksilver shows in the comics. Plus, he’s had experience playing tortured characters in live-action superhero TV (as Doomsday in Smallville). Alternate actors: Zachary Quinto; Andrew Lee-Potts; Aaron Paul.

Victor Shade/The Vision: WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD-the idea of hiring Clark Gregg to play a resurrected Agent Coulsson that turns into the Vision is very popular with fans across the Internet. But purists will argue that the Vision is really an android that was once the original Human Torch so using Coulsson would deviate from the unemotional artificial being’s roots. Also Gregg has said in recent interviews that he doesn’t expect to return to that role. Filmmakers can go that route but if they wish to have him be closer to his comic book role then another actor is needed. Christopher Eccleston has the right look and acting ability to portray the Vision. His roles in 28 Days Later and as the Ninth Doctor in Doctor Who are excellent showcases for his talent. Alternate actors: Guy Pearce; Zachary Quinto.

Simon Williams/Wonder Man: He’s one of the most powerful, yet self-effacing superheroes in the Marvel universe. The actor who portrays him should be personable while slightly buffed, someone that audiences can relate to since Williams is a down-to-earth type. The best choice for that role would be fan-favorite Nathan Fillion. Putting aside his association with Joss Whedon, just look at his performances, he can play heroic with a touch of humility. If picked, he would add so much to Williams’ character that could make him as much of a breakout character as the Hulk was in The Avengers. Alternate actors: Josh Holloway; Karl Urban; John Barrowman.

T’Challa/Black Panther: As the ruler of the African kingdom of Wakanda, Black Panther is actual royalty thus requiring an actor of such stature to portray him. At the same time, T’Challa is a very hands-on kind of guy who can hold his own in a fight so the actor needs to look physically fit. Hands down the perfect choice would be Chiwetel Ejiofor; he’s very regal, dignified but with a hard edge to him. Look at his work on the Serenity film for comparison. Alternate actors: Richard Brooks; Jamil Walker-Smith, Michael Early.

Hercules: Thor’s jovial rival is uber buff and enjoys a good fight. Hercules can provide some welcome comic relief for an Avengers 2. If not, they can use the character in a future Thor film. The actor who looks perfect for the part is True Blood’s Joseph Manganiello. As a werewolf on the show, Manganiello is pretty honorable, with a heroic and sensitive side. The question is can this actor be funny? Alternate actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jon Bernthal; Brian Austin Green.

Dane Whitman/The Black Knight: The Arthurian hero with his mystical sword and flying horse would be an interesting addition to the movie roster. The actor needed to play him needs to be athletic, do a British accent, and have a dash of nobility. This role should go to Karl Urban who has been appearing in several notable genre works. Look at the way he looks as Judge Dredd with his helmet and get a sense for how he would be as the Black Knight. Alternate Actors:  Orlando Bloom; Colin Firth; Jamie Bamber.

Sam Wilson/The Falcon: Best known as Captain America’s partner during the ’70s, this winged superhero could be introduced in a future Captain America film then used in The Avengers 2 or 3 or vice versa. Laz Alonso has played a wide variety of strong roles throughout his career (best known for his work as the mighty warrior Tsu’tey in Avatar) and would be a terrific choice to play a solid and sympathetic hero with a dark past. Alternate actors: Jason George; Mehcad Brooks; Morris Chestnut.

Greer Grant Nelson/Tigra: Originally introduced back in the ’70s as the Cat, Greer was transformed into Tigra through sorcery and science. The actress who should portray this feline-based heroine should be athletic, beautiful and able to give off a feline quality with a hint of savagery. Zoe Saldana would be puurfect for Tigra (sorry couldn’t resist the pun) being that she’s had a resume filled with heroic action parts like Star Trek, Colombiana, The Losers and Avatar.  She may not want to do a role that may be compared to her stint as Neytiri in Avatar. So a good alternative would be Jessica Alba who has many of Saldana’s qualities and has played superheroines before (Fantastic Four, which would reunite her with Chris Evans, and as the lead in Dark Angel). Alternate actresses: Anna Ortiz; Frema Agyeman.

Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk: The female version of the Hulk isn’t like her gamma-fueled cousin. Funny, scrappy and easy on the eyes, She-Hulk needs to be played by someone who can convey her personality. Angie Harmon has had a picture of herself doctored to show her in green skin as a way of auditioning for the role. However, Sara Ramirez who projects beauty while being tough and sporting a rich mane of hair would be an ideal choice to play the jade giantess. Alternate actresses: Lynn Collins; Moon Bloodgood.

Just for kicks…

It’s doubtful if the following characters would be used, except for Jarvis, but just in case, here are prime choices to play these Avengers and associates:

Jarvis the Butler: Richard Jenkins

Hellcat: Rachel McAdams

Ms. Marvel: Lauren Cohan

Captain Marvel/Pulsar: Frema Agyeman

Starfox: Josh Hartnett

Peter Henry Gyrich: Sam Neill

Jocasta: Dichen Lachman

Moondragon: Any actress willing to shave her head for the role.

José Soto (special thanks to GEO)

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Ray Bradbury Takes His Place Among The Stars

The science fiction and fantasy world lost a true visionary today with the death of Ray Bradbury. The man was a true poet who penned some eloquently profound stories and novels. Among his greatest works are Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Martian Chronicles, I Sing The Body Electric, R Is For Rocket and The Illustrated Man. His short stories are well regarded by critics and readers and were adapted for comic books (notably EC Comics), TV shows like The Twilight Zone, plays and films. They include “the Flying Machine”, “There Will Come Soft Rains”, “The Fog Horn” (which inspired The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms), and “A Sound Of Thunder”. The latter of which popularized the time travel paradox concept of the Butterfly Effect.

Bradbury also wrote the screenplays for John Huston’s film adaptation of Moby Dick, the film adaptation for Something Wicked This Way Comes, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Ray Bradbury Theater (which he hosted), and more. Ray Bradbury won an Emmy award for his script The Halloween Tree, which was based on his book of the same name. He also won numerous awards and citations including a 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation.

Born in Illinois in 1920, Ray Bradbury was a dreamer who inspired many to dream and look up to the stars and wonder at the beauty of our universe. Even at an early age, his writing gift was evident and he soon began publishing numerous short stories. While many of his works are lyrical and inspiring, he also didn’t shy away from exploring humanity’s darker side. Many stories served as warnings about ourselves, while offering a glimmer of hope.

This is probably best presented with his masterpiece Fahrenheit 451, which is a personal favorite, in the futuristic society of that novel, books and all literature are outlawed as the populace is deliberately kept ignorant by the government to better control them. Bradbury played with many ironies in his body of work, and Fahrenheit 451 wasn’t an exception. In the book, firemen aren’t used to put out fires, rather they create fires as they storm into the homes of suspected book owners and set libraries on fire. While the majority of the book is a bleak look at how shallow and empty we can be, Bradbury provided a main character (the fireman Guy Montag) who slowly comes to his senses about the horror of book burning. Montage redeems himself (and society at large) by becoming part of an underground movement to bring literature back to society in order to save it.

Bradbury’s contributions to the world of literature and science fiction and fantasy cannot be measured. While Ray Bradbury may no longer be with us, his spirit is now rightfully in the heavens above us and his works will continue to inspire many for as long as there are dreamers and visionaries.

José Soto

The Alien Movies Ranked

The Alien movies are some of the most well-loved films in science fiction and with the upcoming prequel Prometheus about to be released in the U.S., here are the films that preceded it in order of my personal preference:

1. Alien (1979) Ridley Scott’s sci-fi/horror masterpiece set the standard for this genre. Over the years I have come to regard this one as the best of the bunch because of how well it works. These are the elements that work: the claustrophobic feel of the freighter ship, the slow, but scary, build up to the mystery of what is on the planet that the crew land on and what exactly is picking them off. The infamous chestburster scene is still effective to this very day. The director’s cut on DVD and blu-ray is also very good and even shows a scene where Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) finds Captain Dallas in a cocoon after being attacked by the alien and burns him alive to put him out of his misery.

2. Aliens (1986) James Cameron created a sci-fi war epic that is one of the best films ever made. It created the image of the space marine that is so prevalent in films and video games today and is a great thrill ride from start to finish. The main character Ripley was joined by Newt (Carrie Henn), Hicks (Michael Biehn), Hudson (Bill Paxton) and others that  audiences grew to love. The extended edition shows the back story of the colony Hadley’s Hope and how the aliens took it over. On a side note there will be a video game next year entitled Aliens: Colonial Marines for the PS3 and Xbox 360 that will continue the story.

3. Alien 3 (1993) An underrated David Fincher film that is striking in its visuals and feel. Lone survivor Ripley crash lands on a  prison planet and is followed by a single alien that proceeds to wipe out the prison population harkening back to the original film.  I think this movie is excellent and unfairly hated because fan favorites Newt and Hicks were killed off. Many wanted a follow up to Aliens and instead got a dark almost existential film about Ripley at the end of her rope. This film had a video game adaptation for the Super NES in 1993 that actually played like a side scroller action game with lots of guns and aliens to fight. Quite different from the actual movie. There is also an alternate cut of the movie available on blu-ray and DVD. It restores a subplot of one of the prisoners worshipping the alien and releasing it when it was trapped by Ripley and shows the alien bursting out of an ox instead of a dog as in the theatrical version. Definitely something for fans to check out.

4. Alien Vs. Predator (2004) I’m putting this one ahead of the 4th film Alien: Resurrection since it is simply a better movie. Why it is hated so much is strange. A very good film that shows predators coming to Earth to hunt aliens in the south pole that they placed there as a rite of passage for their young. The set up with the archaeologists finding the eggs and alien queen in the underground temple is great and the battles between the two franchise monsters is lots of fun.

5. Alien: Resurrection (1997) The last Alien film with Ripley. It is set 200 years after her death and has her cloned to extract an alien queen from her body. It has interesting concepts with Ripley actually having alien DNA and blood in her system. The scene where she finds the previous versions of herself is both fascinating and disturbing. The movie returns to the idea of multiple aliens chasing down a rag tag group of mercenaries trying to escape a doomed ship. Seeing Ripley finally returning to Earth is also a nice way to finish her story.

6. Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem (2007) This entry is the only real misfire of the bunch. A follow up to the much better Alien Vs. Predator, the idea of a predator/alien hybrid sounds okay but looks kind of dumb when seen on film. The characters are very forgettable and the whole thing feels more like a bad Syfy movie of the week. Although it is neat to see the aliens crawling around a present-day town in Colorado, since most of the other movies are set in space and the future. I get the feeling that under another director this would have been so much better since the core story of a single predator hunting down aliens on earth is good and there are some good battles between the creatures.

C.S. Link