Casting Marvel’s Netflix Series

Marvel recently announced big news–It will be bringing four of its heroes (Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones) to the small screen via Netflix. From what I’ve read, each hero will be getting a 13-episode run on the streaming service. Based on Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, this is good news.

Naturally, the Internet is already telling Marvel who should play who, so I thought I’d join. I’ll start with the characters with which I’m least familiar and work my way to Daredevil.

Jessica Jones

Jones has pretty standard powers (super strength, flight, etc…) after being exposed to–you guessed it–mild radiation. She kinda blew it in the super hero game, cutting her losses and opening a private detective agency.

One name that I keep seeing in online discussions, and with which I agree, is Tatiana Maslany–the star of BBC America’s Orphan Black. From what I’ve seen of the show, she seems very talented–having to play a variety of clones throughout the series. That experience could be useful playing a private eye/spy.

Another actress that comes to mind is Lauren Cohan, a veteran TV actress. She’s appeared in Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, Chuck and, most importantly, The Walking Dead. Admittedly, I haven’t seen the first three, but I have seen The Walking Dead. 

Cohan has to handle some pretty heavy, emotional scenes while still kicking ass, because, you know, zombie apocalypse.

Luke Cage and Iron Fist

When it comes to Luke Cage and Iron Fist, it seems misguided to give them separate series. I think most people know them as a team–Heroes for Hire to be more specific.

But there’s a chance you don’t recognize either one. They’re not the most recognizable characters in the Marvel pantheon.

Basically, Danny Rand/Iron Fist is the son of a rich entrepreneur/adventurer (because apparently that’s a job in comics and video games) who discovers a lost, mystical Asian city. When Danny is nine, his dad tries to take him to this city and ends up dying. Danny makes his way to the mystical, murder city and is trained in martial arts, becoming the newest in a lineage of Iron Fists.

Let’s hope they don’t insist on keeping this ridiculous suit.

As you might have guessed from the name “Danny Rand,” Iron Fist is white. The comic was created during the 70s at the time of a martial arts pop-culture trend. But I guess Marvel didn’t have the cajones to actually make the character Asian.

What I’m saying is, I think Marvel and Netflix should cast an actor with Asian heritage. I know it probably won’t happen, and it wouldn’t sit well with some people–idiots mostly–who believe the cannon shouldn’t altered and if he was white in the comics he should be white on Neftlix dadgummit!

Still, there are others who might see an Asian-American playing a martial artist as stereotypical, which is a valid point. Call me crazy, but I think appropriating a culture, whitewashing it and then profiting from it is worse. Anyway….

The first guy that came to mind was Daniel Dae Kim. Right now, he’s most recognizable as Chin Ho Kelly on the remake of Hawaii Five-0. He was also on Lost and Angel. Just based on those credits, it’s obvious that Kim is capable of action roles and has a solid foundation in fantasy/sci-fi. It’s exactly the sort of training an actor would need to bring to this role.

 Someone else who comes to mind is James Kyson, who is probably best known as Ando on Heroes. He was also on Hawaii Five-0 with Kim. He already has experience acting in a show based in a fantastical universe with super heroes, and his arc and character development over the series showed some good range.

 This might be a stretch, but, after watching The Walking Dead,  I think Steven Yeun (Glenn) would be good for this role. That’s assuming he could handle the martial arts sequences. Since the first season, Yeun’s role has gradually increased, and he’s brought a lot of heart and comic relief to the show.

Luke Cage, much like the A-Team, was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. To receive parole, he underwent a medical experiment (because sure) that went wrong and left him with steel-like skin and super strength.

To be fair, that’s probably the best case scenario for a medical experiment gone wrong. After getting out of the joint, he became a “hero for hire.”

Several high-profile actors have expressed interest in playing Luke Cage. Idris Elba and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have both said they would like the part.

However, they seemed interested at time when a big-budget feature film was in the pipeline. It remains to be seen if either would still be up for the part in a Netflix series.

Michael Jai White would be my first choice (as if Hollywood has been waiting for my input) to play Luke Cage. White is an accomplished martial artist that cuts an imposing figure. He also has good on-screen presence and, as Black Dynamite proved, he has sense of humor. All things that are essential for playing Cage.

White also has experience with super heroes, playing the titular character in Spawn. He’s even said he would be open to playing Cage as long as the script didn’t “suck.” You know, like Spawn’s.

Another actor who has said he’s interested in playing Cage is Isaiah Mustafa. You probably know him best as the Old Spice guy.

The man your man could smell like.

I’m a bit more familiar with Mustafa than most people because he was a favorite of the G4 network (RIP) and particularly Attack of the Show, which I used to watch all the time.

He’s funny and is an avid, vocal comics fan. He’s the kind of person fans want to see involved with these projects. Additionally, he played football at Arizona State and on a few NFL practice squads, so he can fulfill the physical requirements of the character.

Daredevil

Finally, we come to Daredevil. Marvel already adapted the character, and it didn’t go too well.

The original Daredevil film could have been great. No, really, I’m not kidding. Daredevil is one of Marvel’s most interesting and darkest characters–especially during Frank Miller’s run on the series.

As many people have noted, Daredevil is essentially Marvel’s Batman. He’s son to a murdered father, victim of a tragic accident and a defender of the vulnerable. He’s also one of the few Marvel heroes that works on the street level.

The How Did This Get Made? podcast on Daredevil revealed that the movie could have been very different. You see, it was significantly altered after initial test screenings. According to the podcast, female test viewers really responded to the scenes between Matt Murdock/Daredevil and Elektra Natchios/Elektra.

Based on that feedback, some studio suits decided to play up the love story angle. It required cutting out a significant subplot and shooting extra scenes–just kind of shoehorning them in to the existing movie. The result was an incoherent, clownshoe effort that turned a fist fight between two super heroes into a Zumba class.

One of the stupidest scenes ever put on film.

That being said, it seems Marvel has taken a step in the right direction. According to IGN, Drew Goddard will be the man behind Daredevil. He’s written the first episode and will serve as show runner. Goddard directed Cabin in the Woods and wrote on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Alias and Lost. 

This news begs the question, who should play Daredevil–someone who has to bear the weight of a childhood tragedy and disability and also charm judges and jurors in the courtroom?

I believe I have the answer.

You’re first reaction is probably going to be: What? Just hear me out. Jack Huston should play Daredevil. Who the hell is that you say? Well, Huston is Richard Harrow on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, and he’ll be in David O. Russell’s new movie American Hustle.  He’s also the nephew of Anjelica Huston, which is pretty awesome.

For four seasons, Huston has played Harrow, a disfigured former army sharpshooter who turned to crime after coming home from war. He’s been playing a man who at his core is a good and loyal person, but must deal with a life-changing disability and the terrible things he’s done. He wants desperately the love a family, but thinks nothing of executing a rival bootlegger.

Huston perfectly captured the give and take of a conflicted character. I can’t think of anyone else with better preparation for the role of Daredevil. And, yeah, he doesn’t really look like Matt Murdock, but the Daniel Craig, blond Bond thing worked out pretty damn well.

An actor that seems to be a universal pick among the Internet is Michael C Hall. He kind of looks like Matt Murdock, and Dexter showed he could play an intense, brooding character absorbed in his own righteousness.

I’m not sure after he would want to jump right into another TV show after eight seasons of Dexter, though.

Garrett Hedlund or Richard Madden would be suitable runners-up.

He’ll be available after the latest season of Game of Thrones…

I assume the show will also feature Foggy Nelson, Murdock’s best friend and business partner. The character would be responsible for the comic relief and contrasting darker moments in the show. Two comedic actors that come to mind are Clark Duke and Josh Gad.

I’m sure Matt Murdock’s father, “Battling Jack” Murdock will be included–if only in flashback scenes. Battling Jack is a Rocky Balboa type, a prize-fighter who supplements his income by doing a little extracurricular thumb breaking.

For this character, my mind went to the canceled FX show Lights Out. It was about an aging boxing champ struggling after his retirement. Holt McCallany was pitch-perfect as the lead. Playing Battling Jack would be a cakewalk.

Unlike the 2003 film, the series should include Stick. For those of you who have been doing things and stuff with your life, Stick (blind like Murdock) is the leader of the Chaste–a ninja organization and enemy of the Hand (uh, another secret ninja organization). He’s an older man who mentors Daredevil as his sensei.

Again, hear me out on this. John Cusack should play stick. I don’t think anyone can argue Cusack’s acting chops, and he has trained in kickboxing (many of those years with Benny Urquidez) for more than 20 years. He’s not as old as Stick appears to be depicted in the comics, but he’s old enough to have seen a thing or two.

The only problem is that Cusack really doesn’t do TV.

A more realistic choice might be The Highlander himself, Christopher Lambert. Lambert must have had martial arts training for Highlander, and he’s nearly blind without glasses in real life, which could add authenticity to the character.

As crazy as it sounds, I’ve kind of gotten used to the idea of a Bullseye from the British Isles after Colin Farrell’s turn as the character.

For some reason, I’ve just pictured Charlie Cox, who played Owen Sleater on Boardwalk Empire, as Bullseye. Or maybe I just watched too much Boardwalk Empire. I don’t know.

Other characters that could make appearances include Elektra, Ben Urich, an investigative journalist for The Daily Bugle, and Typhoid Mary, a villain with psionic powers and dissociative identity disorder.

I think Fox still owns the rights to the character of Elektra, so, at the moment, it’s hard to say if she’ll be included in the show. If it gets sorted out, the only person I can see playing Elektra is Mila Kunis. Physically, she might not seem that imposing, but her attitude and presence would more than make up for it.

Jennifer Carpenter would make an excellent Typhoid Mary. As Deb in Dexter, she walked the line between vulnerable and foul-mouthed bad ass. She easily would be able to switch between Typhoid Mary’s timid “Mary” personality, outgoing “Typhoid” personality and psychopathic “Bloody Mary” personality.

This might be my man crush talking, but Adam Scott should play Ben Urich–kind of a Bizzaro World (yes I know that’s DC) Ben Wyatt. Unconventional, I know.

While predominantly known for his comedic roles, The Vicious Kind proved he can play a grizzled SOB. I would love to see Scott as a tenacious reporter bantering with Daredevil.

Now, we come to Kingpin. A name I keep seeing is Michael Chiklis. Yes, he has the look, but he also has practice playing sinister as corrupt cop Vic Mackey on The Shield. He would be excellent as boss of the criminal underworld.

J.K. Simmons is another actor that could do a lot with the roll. For those of you who only remember him as Juno’s dad and J. Jonah Jameson, Simmons played neo-Nazi Vern Schillinger on Oz–one of the most hateable villains in TV history.

But if there’s one TV character who I hated (in a good way I guess?) and who really stuck with me, it’s Major Bill Rawls from The Wire. John Doman portrayed a character who’s supposedly on the right side of the law. However, as the show progressed, Rawls proved himself to be selfish, greedy and conniving.

If Doman could bring that understated malevolence to the role of Kingpin, it would be a slam dunk.

 Get at me Netflix and Marvel!

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3 thoughts on “Casting Marvel’s Netflix Series

  1. frank says:

    Great choices on Jones, Cage and DD, however, and I am not trying to be a jerk, but your comments about Iron Fist and casting choices are way off base. First of all Marvel had an Asian kung-Fu based characters who already exsisted when Iron Fist was created, Shang Chi. Iron Fist was created to be caucasion, because he was an outsider, not because Marvel was not brave, or racist.

  2. This guy as Iron Fist in the new Netflix show? What do you think?

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