Welcome back to another installment of the Comics Casting Couch, where we take comic books and their characters and pitch ideas and actors for Hollywood to consider.
This week, we’re putting a twist in our traditional methods, and casting the net through the ages to pull the best actors from any time period, and at any age, to fill the roles being cast in our little production of Captain Marvel.
THE ELEVATOR PITCH
Following the death of his parents, young Billy Batson, finds himself orphaned and penniless on the streets of 1940 Fawcett City. The city is still suffering from the Great Depression and talk of entering the war in Europe blasts across the airwaves and the papers ever day, which makes survival very difficult for the young boy.
Showing compassion for a derelict stranger wandering in the city’s subway system, Billy soon discovers the stranger to be the Wizard Shazam, who teaches him the magic incantation that turns him into the world’s greatest super hero – Captain Marvel. Captain Marvel fights injustice and corrupt officials, eventually coming face to face with Doctor Sivana, an evil, twisted scientist, who plans on aiding Nazi forces to overthrow the United States. Captain Marvel eventually wins, but not before coming to blows with Captain Nazi in the movie’s climax.
Kurt Russell (14 years) as Billy Batson
The clean cut kid that made Jungle Boy a household name on Gilligan’s island, has all the charm and charismatic good looks that makes Billy Batson the likable character audiences will enjoy. Even at a young age, Russell had the acting chops to bring a tear to the eye and a smile to the face during his brief stints on screen. Though he will need to dye his hair black for the role, Russell will be able to bring the wonder and amazement of youth to the world of magic and superheroes.
Fred MacMurray (29 years) as Captain Marvel
Hey, if you’re going to cast anyone throughout time as Captain Marvel, you might as well cast the actor that inspired C.C. Beck from the get go. While many remember MacMurray as the Absent-Minded Professor or the father to Mike, Robbie, and Chip Douglas, his rugged looks and solid build of his late 20s and early 30s set him up to be the perfect actor for our hero. While many comic artists portray Captain Marvel as a ‘roided out, muscle head, MacMurray’s build is perfect for a believable hero powered by magics. And if that doesn’t work, we can always pad the costume…
Sir Ian McKellen (71 years) as The Wizard Shazam
As the wizened wizard, Sir Ian McKellen would bring gravity and power to the role that only appears on the screen for a short while. Still, the time on screen will be all kinds of awesome as Sir Ian belts out The Wisdom of Solomon, The Strength of Hercules, The Stamina of Atlas, The Power of Zeus, The Courage of Achilles, and the Speed of Mercury. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.
Peter Lorre (37 years) as Doctor Sivana
The evil scientist who wants to help take over the world needs to be played by someone who can make an audience shrink in their seat, and roll with laughter within the same film. Peter Lorre can do both, as he can combine his disturbing portrayal as child killer Hanz Beckert, with the nebbish and slightly bent Joel Cairo from Maltese Falcon. Letting Lorre lose to chew the scenery with modern day facial prosthetics should do the trick, but if you doubt his ability to play a creepy chrome domed villain, check out the disturbing, yet somewhat whimsical Lorre with a shaved head from 1935’s Mad Love.
Arnold Schwartzenegger (35 years) as Captain Nazi
As the counterpoint to MacMurray’s clean looks and Peter Lorre’s small frame, the role of Captain Nazi does need to go to an actor that looks like he’s been genetically altered with drugs to become the Third Reich’s perfect specimen. While we’re not trying to paint the Govenator as any kind of Hitler lover, Arnold Schwartzenegger during his Conan the Barbarian years would make a perfect Captain Nazi. There’s not a lot of dialogue that needs to be delivered in the role, as Captain Nazi will only appear in the final act to try and bring the smack down to our hero. And let’s face it, the less speaking the 1982 Schwartzenegger does, the better.
SETTING UP THE SEQUEL
Since there is little doubt the first Captain Marvel movie will be a huge success, a sequel will need to follow quickly after. And if you want to set up a sequel that makes sense, certain cameos are going to need to occur in the first film to get audiences a hint of what is to come.
Dwayne Johnson (38 years) as Theo Adam
In order to escape the ravages of living on the streets, Billy Batson spends a lot of his time hanging out at the Faucet City Natural History Museum. He’s fascinated with relics from the past, and he has become friends with visiting professor Theo Adam, the city’s expert on Egyptology. While a passing big name cameo may not resonate with audiences, it will be a natural reveal when Theo Adam becomes Black Adam in Captain Marvel 2.
Lindsay Lohan (12 years) as Mary Batson
So the film isn’t a complete sausage fest, there needs to be young spunky female actress to get girls interested in flying superheroes. There was actually a time when Lindsay Lohan wasn’t thought of as someone with a drug and alcohol problem, and she could actually bring a smile to the face as the precocious twins Hallie and Annie in the Parent Trap. I like the idea presented by Jeff Smith that Mary Batson does not turn into a tarted up 21 year old when she goes through the change, but instead stays a young 12 year old in her super-heroine form. As a young actress, Lohan would play well against the older MacMurray, bringing in all sorts of comedic double takes and exasperated reactions as Captain Marvel deals with the hyper-active pre-teen.
Robby Benson (17 years) as Freddy Freeman
It makes since that the final battle between Captain Marvel and Captain Nazi should feature a young Robby Benson caught in the crossfire of the battle – a battle that will leave Freddy Freeman crippled until the closing scenes when Billy Batson visits Freddy in the hospital, and together they utter SHAZAM! as the screen flashes with lightning before going black as credits roll. I should point out that Benson would play Freddy Freeman only, as there’s a special surprise actor we have in mind for Captain Marvel, Jr.
THAT’S A WRAP
While it’s been fun tripping through the past and present plucking actors and actresses to play in our version of the Captain Marvel movie, it’s going to take quite a few dollars to whip up a time-machine and invent a drug that will wipe all memory of the film from the actors when they are placed back in their original time lines, but if H’wood is listening, and the technology is there, this is a slam dunk film. Only Cameron could turn the film industry on its ear with Avatar, and Captain Marvel would be the best film to kick off the age of time displaced actors.