If you haven't yet heard, one of Hollywood's most talked-about filmmakers, Ava DuVernay, is tackling the Fourth World saga of Jack Kirby's The New Gods for Warner Bros.
Usually when a major superhero movie is announced, there are already plenty of people who have cast the role in their head, and they are just waiting to be disappointed by any choice the director makes.
In this case, The New Gods have had comparably fewer fan-casting stories and so it's our turn to make some suggestions, spur some conversation, and then later second-guess the choices of the professionals paid to make these films happen.
Here is a selection of the innumerable gods of Kirby's latter-day mythology...!
It would be foolish to assume that DuVernay, one of the most prominent black filmmakers in Hollywood an an advocate for diversity and representation, would not replace at least some of the all-white New Gods with characters of color.
Even when he created them, Jack Kirby considered that there was no particularly good reason not to, and briefly flirted with using a discarded Black Panther design as one of Highfather's followers.
Why not, then, have that as our opening salvo? Like recasting the ancient wizard in Shazam! as a person of color, establishing the Zeus-like father god of the New Gods as a man with dark skin seems like an easy way of creating diversity in casting: after all, Highfather has family members who, too, need to be cast, meaning that this one piece of casting (of a character whose physical appearance does not much matter, to be honest) would have a cascading effect on the rest of the film.
Our choice? Denzel Washington.prevnext
To be honest, it feels like this needs to be a big guy.
There are some fans out there who have been lobbying for one of the giants of mocap to take on this role, and while that is an understandable impulse, the dodgy CG on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League have left a bad taste in many viewers' mouths, and it seems like using practical effects whenever possible, a return to the standard championed by Christopher Nolan during his Batman films, is a wise idea.
That said, this is an incredibly important role, and one that cannot and should not be handed off to somebody just because they "look the part," especially when a ton of makeup, prosthetics, and CG will be used no matter what.
Lastly, he would ideally be a figure who can deliver at least some action sequences. Even though Darkseid is generally seen plotting and brooding, using his Omega Beams to carry out his physical damage, the likelihood that in a New Gods movie, Darkseid will need to spring into combat at some point seems pretty high.
We're gonna suggest Ving Rhames. There may be a conflict, since he is also playing Charlie-27 for the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, but it seems clearer and clearer that there is a somewhat more permeable membrane to travel between DC and Marvel movies than fans had previously thought, with moves like Joss Whedon, Laurence Fishburne, and Neal McDonough trading universes.prevnext
Scott Free, the son of Highfather, raised on Apokolips, is the kind of character who needs to be played by a versatile actor.
A third comic book movie for Michael B. Jordan may feel like a bit much, but he absolutely nailed the raw emotionality of Killmonger in Black Panther and proved with Creed to be capable of action, drama, and humor.
That, and he is fully capable of filling out a superhero suit without being so massively built as to make almost any choice for Big Barda seem implausible.prevnext
Speaking of which -- Scott has a wife!
In the comics, there are few couples more utterly mismatched and yet perfect for each other than the small, lithe Mister Miracle and the towering, blunt instrument that is Big Barda.
The obvious choice according to the internet is Star Wars and Game of Thrones veteran Gwendoline Christie, who stands 6'3" tall and is therefore about 3" taller than Jordan would be.
That is probably enough, particularly with the likelihood that Barda will have platforms, armor, and a headpiece that would tower over an escape artist in reinforced tights. And more to the point, Christie is a genuinely compelling actor, giving her the potential to be the film's Patrick Stewart, where giving the fans what they want and picking an actor for their talent are not mutually exclusive.prevnext
This is going to sound really bad, but...yeah, Jamie Bell would play really well as Orion.
Sour, stacked, and essentially the anti-Mister Miracle, Orion is the son of Darkseid, raised on New Genesis, but he's still kind of a miserable bastard.
The fact that there are unfortunate connotations when you put Bell and Jordan together in a comic book movie notwithstanding, Bell has the physicality, the chops, and the looks -- as well as being close to Jordan's age, making the whole baby-swapping thing believable. That's actually something that many other candidates we considered, or saw online, failed to have going for them.prevnext
While we have a sentimental attachment for the idea of TV legend Ed Asner reprising his Justice League Unlimited role, and while the internet wants to see Oprah Winfrey in the role (fresh off of her appearance in DuVernay's A Wrinkle in Time, complete in wardrobe that has a distinctly Kirbyesque vibe to it), the likelihood of Granny Goodness needing to perform action in a feature film seems to beg for a fit and probably female actor, since in live-action a man in drag may come off differently than it does in animation.
So -- who should this be? Maybe one of the hardest characters in the DC Universe to cast.
While they would need to age her up a bit for the role, we kind of love the idea of genre icon Sigourney Weaver as Granny Goodness -- if only for the generational element of Weaver feeling like a character who could be a believable matriarch to an actress like Christie (or whoever were to play Barda).prevnext
Forager was the name of a champion who rose to protect his race and gave his life in the process.
Years later, a woman would stand up to take his place, and this is the direction we feel most likely to be explored in the film. The story of the "original" Forager could serve as worldbuilding and mythology deepening, while a female Bug would give the movie something it will need: additional women who aren't just slaves to Granny Goodness.
This kind of feels like a role that Alicia Vikander, late of the Tomb Raider reboot, would be up for -- and of course WB already rolled the dice on her with that film, indicating that they are likely comfortable enough with her to give it a shot.prevnext
In the comics, Lightray has often been the anti-Orion -- but given the narrative, it seems likely that role will go to Scott Free in the movie.
That said, you still want somebody upbeat to play Lightray, and it seems likely that Hollywood would likely make him a comic relief figure since so much of the New Gods mythology runs the risk of taking itself so seriously.
This...this could be the superhero role Joel McHale has always been waiting for.
Although, no, that's probably Quantum & Woody.prevnext
Darkseid's vicious, duplicitous henchman should probably be an older, hunched figure who could recall Richard Nixon or some other equally smarmy boardroom con man as easily as a monster.
That sounds almost tailor-made for Watchmen, Preacher, and Human Target veteran Jackie Earle Haley...!prevnext
The easy answer here, let's be honest: Doug Jones.
Jones, who played the creature in Guillermo del Toro's Oscar-winning The Shape of Water, is one of the most accomplished motion-capture artists of his generation.
In a role familiar to most comic book fans, he served as the Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. While that movie itself is not fondly remembered by most fans, Jones's performance was.
And, of course, there are the obvious parallels between the Black Racer, who embodies death and travels space and time on skis, and the Silver Surfer.
In fact, when Marvel first decided to give the Surfer his own title, Jack Kirby assumed that he would be called upon for it. Fleshing out his ideas for the character, Kirby created a template which was then scrapped when somebody else wrote the book instead. While elements of Kirby's Surfer would later be incorporated into the character, at the time it was widely understood that Black Racer was more akin at least tonally to what Kirby would have liked to do with Silver Surfer than anything Marvel was doing at that point.prevnext
To play Lashina, with her leather and whips and dangerous, sadistic streak? We're going with Hayley Law, from Riverdale.
Yeah, one of Josie's Pussycats made the list as a badass killer from an alien world, but besides the fact taht she's a great actress, just take a look above at Law in her Altered Carbon role as Lizzie Elliot...!prevnext
...And the Rest of the Crew
Some final thoughts, because this has gotten wildly out of hand. Did you know there are just a whole lot of New Gods?
A few ideas that we had, but didn't have a ton to say about them...
Metron: Michael Emerson6comments
Bernadeth: Sandra Bullock
Funky Flashman: The perfect Stan Lee/DC movies cameo!prev