The Comic Casting Couch: Firestorm: The Nuclear Man



Take one bored writer, access to the Intardwebz, and a up and coming comic book series, throw it in a pot and set it to boil, and you wind up with The Comic Casting Couch – a look at who Stacy B. would cast in his imaginary movie.  This time out – Firestorm: The Nuclear Man.

Plot: Dr. Martin Stein, a scientist in the employee of the Hewitt Corporation, has developed a matter/conversion machine using a revolutionary power source he calls the Firestorm Matrix. The night before the big press conference to unveil his creation, his laboratory is attacked by operatives from the 2000 Committee. Desperately trying to save his life’s work, there is an explosion which seemingly destroys the machine and the building in which it is housed.  Caught in the explosion is college student Jason Rusch who is working as part of the night-time maintenance crew at the Hewitt Corporation’s Experimental Technology Division.  After being released from the hospital, he discovers that he has the power to merge, for a limited time, with another human being and become the nuclear man known as FIRESTORM! Accused of being an accomplice in the attempted robbery of the missing Dr. Stein, Jason he must use his newfound powers to stop Hewitt Corporation CEO Victor H. Hewitt from trying to use the data from the Firestorm Matrix to take over the United States of America!



I chose to make my Firestorm the Jason Rusch version for several reasons, not the least of which was the simple desire to see a super hero movie with an African-American lead that was done well and without a blaxploitation aspect. Although he is in college, Jason lives with his father in a small house in the Chicago suburbs and works a night job to be able to go to school at Chicago College of the Performing Arts, Music Conservatory. The role will give an actor a chance to not only perform in an action oriented movie, but to also to have the occasional appropriate comical moments as well. Even back when this series first came out I pictured Nick Cannon of Drumline and America’s Got Talent fame. He is still youthful enough looking to pull off a late teen, has experience enough to pull off the humor as well as the drama, and is popular enough to draw in an audience in from outside the comic shops.



This one took me a little, as at first I thought Ving Rames! But once I looked at the character more, I realized that a little more anguish is needed to bring the character out, I went with Keith David. Shave his head, edit out his hand, and let him take his self loathing out on a son who he really loves, and boom, we got a best supporting actor nomination. Also, you could give the story bookend narrations by Alvin Rusch, explaining what the situation was like before his son became Firestorm and then after the movie is over, their situation now.



We need to have a Prof. Stein as a self-absorbed scientist before he wakes up in the Matrix as part of the Firestorm being, and pick an actor with the chops to be able to take the character from there to a more open and vulnerable state.  Let his grey hair grow out a little and give him glasses, and classic actor David Ogden Stiers becomes the good professor.



Playing the head of the Hewitt Corporation and the 2000 Committee, this Victor Hewitt would not be a clone of Henry Hewitt, but Hewitt himself. Combine original and clone’s name and voila! Make him a paraplegic and the head of not only an international corporation but of a crime syndicate. and while the character may be a little cliché, it should give the audience something to recognize. Then in the third act, drop him into the armor codenamed TOKAMAK and make him a little crazy from an imperfect version of the Firestorm Matrix he is attempting to power it with, and you have a classic megalomaniacal corporate criminal bent on ruling the world, or at least it’s power supplies. For an actor, you need someone with rugged good looks. If this was a few years back, I would say Charlton Heston, but since I am trying to keep everything modern day I draft Jeffery Dean Morgan of Watchmen fame.



One of the team of assassins working for the 2000 Committee to eliminate Firestorm, this Slipknot would be pretty much a mirror image of the comic book version. Give him some organic based ropes to stop Firestorm’s powers and a sadistic/fetish side, and you have the perfect vehicle for Desperate House Wives’ Neal McDonough.



Multiplex is one of those that you hit a conundrum with: Keep him as a powered villain who can make increasingly small duplicates of himself, or go a Tomox/Xamot route? I say keep the powers and make him the actual inside source that betrays Prof. Stein. Give him his powers in the same explosion that creates Firestorm, have his duplicates feed off the Firestorm Matrix energy, and you have a winner. Casting Brent Spiner of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame as the ungrateful lab assistant and you’re off!



Take the alter ego of the second Killer Frost and introduce her as the non-powered ex-wife of Professor Stein and you have the perfect set-up villainess for any sequels. Let Prof. Stein refer to her as “emotional as a killer frost on a fruit orchard” and you give a nod to fans. Have her played by Amanda Tapping of Stargate SG-1, and you got heat vampire that can draw in the crowds.



While in the comics Geheena was the super powered daughter/clone of Victor Hewitt, we are trying to stay away from the clone angle here. We can play up the Asian/American element though, and make her the daughter of Victor Hewitt. Her Asiatic mother died in the accident that crippled her father (actually an assassination attempt), and his cold demeanor afterward pushed her away and had her go by her mother’s maiden name. Jason knows her as Geheena in his college classes, and does not find out who her father is until later. No powers for her, but she could keep the bubbly personality and be portrayed by the Disney Channel’s Brenda Song. Also, you could have a contrast in her personality and the origins of her name.

As far as special effects, make the character of Firestorm as close as possible to the Jason Rusch comic’s version. We’ve seen the fiery-head thing done in Ghost Rider, and nowadays the special effects would be a cinch. To help it fit into the DC Universe of movies, add some references to The Daily Planet, have Victor Hewitt complain about Bruce Wayne’s company beating him in the race to find an alternative fuel source (thereby justifying his attempt to take the Firestorm Matrix before it is ready, and maybe even have one of Jason’s classes mention the role of mystery men in World War II. Who knows, having the Justice League of America mentioned in some news broadcasts could possibly open the door for a League invitation in the after the credits Easter egg!

Firestorm is one of the properties that DC owns that can give you a diverse viewing audience and open up the door to new fans and movie-goers. Done right, with the right director, you could knock it out of the ball-park and have people forever forget the image of Shaq making a full size motorcycle look like a kiddy toy while wearing ill fitting armor.

Till next time….