By Kendra James and Arturo Garcia
The ups and downs of being a DC Comics fan have never been more apparent than this past week. The WB cast a big screen Wonder Woman (Israeli actress, Fast and the Furious alum Gal Gadot)… but not for her own movie. She’ll be sharing the stage with Henry Cavil’s Superman, Ben Affleck’s supposedly older and wizened Batman, and a potential mutual adversary in Lex Luthor. Luthor who will, according to casting rumours, most likely be African-American, echoing the WB’s already demonstrated willingness to race-bend with Perry White in Man of Steel. Personally, I don’t think this should be much of a stretch of the imagination for anyone who grew up on the Superman cartoon of the 90s.
On the heels of a fantastic Arrow mid-season finale, the CW revealed a casting call for their Flash pilot showing their intentions to making Iris West Allen (The Flash’s –Barry Allen– main love interest and Wally West’s –another Flash– aunt) and her extended family African-American woman rather than white, as she’s been traditionally portrayed in the comics. If the pilot and ensuing show is anywhere near as good as Arrow, a diverse cast of main characters won’t be an issue (even if I am still annoyed about Sin.)
With DC’s television and cinematic universes both expanding quickly, we thought it was time for another quick chromatic casting.
I tend to be overly realistic and pragmatic about these things, so when offering choices for Iris, I tried to keep in mind that this is a show on the CW and because of that there’s a limit to the type of actress they’re going to get. Granted, that doesn’t mean there aren’t great options:
Angel Coulby could be one of those. Freema Ageyeman is already on the CW, and Lenora Circhow is over on ABC’s In The Game, so American network TV seems to be working well for the Black actresses of beloved British sci-fi and fantasy. She’s a bit older than Grant Gustin (who will presumably carry over his role of Barry Allen on Arrow to the Flash pilot considering how much most fans loved his appearance in the December 4th episode), but since when has that ever bothered a channel like the CW?
Yaya Dacosta shot to fame on the CW’s (well, The WB’s) America’s Next Top Model, and she’s done small parts in films and larger guest television roles over the years, but a successful superhero pilot could be good for her. And, if nothing else, the CW keeps their faves employed.
With that in mind, if Jenny Mills isn’t long for the world on Sleepy Hollow, I’d be happy to see Lyndie Greenwood stick around on the CW (she’s also currently starring as Sonya on Nikita) and play Iris.
Art suggested Gugu Mbatha-Raw, pointing out that, “That show [NBC's Undercovers] had a lot of problems, but our old roundtable didn’t think she was one of them.”
This is also a good time to point out that one of the things people seem to be enjoying so much about Arrow is the rapidly expanding DC universe it takes on. Obviously the show deals with the vigilante The Green Arrow, but aside from Barry Allen, they’ve included Black Canary, Brother Blood (played by Kevin Alejandro, last seen long term on True Blood), Deadshot, Roy Harper (played by native actor Colton Haynes), Merlyn, China White (played by Kelly Hu), and The League of Assassins (representative Nyssa Al Ghul will be played by Katrina Law). It’s become a great platform for fans to get a taste of favourite characters who have little to no chance to making it to a big or small screen feature of their own.
With that in mind, Arturo went a step further with some casting suggestions for others who might end up in this expanded ‘verse:
* Danny Pudi as Ted Kord/Blue Beetle and Aldis Hodge as Michael Jon Carter/Booster Gold(I’ve given up the ghost on them following through on the Jaime Reyes iteration of the character, so why not modernize more of these Silver Age characters.) Basically, Beetle and Booster were the Troy and Abed of comics back in the day, and since Donald Glover’s head is not in his acting at this point, why not update the pairing with Hodge, who can play it light and, well, looks like a jock?
* Boris Kodjoe as Michael Holt/Mr. Terrific. Michael Holt’s CV is ridiculous: Super-smart, super-athletic, just about everything but actually, you know, super. Kodjoe is ridiculously good-looking and can juggle the techno-jargon, so let’s go with him here.
* Harry Shum Jr. as Ryan Choi/The Atom
* Sarah Shahi as Zatanna. Whether she wears the old costume or not, I’ll leave it for our readers to decide. (And I won’t believe anything about her being in a ”Justice League Dark” movie ’til we get casting announcements.)
And we can’t end this segment without mentioning that Steve McQueen and Neile Adams’ grandson, Steven R. McQueen (of the CW’s The Vampire Diaries), is running a rather persistent twitter campaign to get himself cast as Batman’s sidekick turned solo hero Nightwing.
Moving on to film, we turn back to the potential race-bending of Lex Luthor in the Man Of Steel sequel. Every casting choice for this film has raised one kind of ruckus or another (the night of Batfleck on Twitter will go down in infamy) so this could end up being a choice that comes at us way out of left field.
Colin Salmon looks the part and I’ve enjoyed every part I’ve seen him play, but whether or not the CW would allow him to be present in two DC ‘verses is questionable. I certainly like him better than the Denzel Washington rumours floating, and despite what Tumblr might want you to believe, we cannot cast Idris Elba in every movie.
From Arturo: As far as Luthor goes, I think everybody’s waiting for it to be Idris Elba because ZOMG IDRIS, but I’m throwing Chiwetel Ejiofor’s name into the mix because a) he’s sure to have just as much Oscar buzz going in (Oscars 2014: It’s Mandela vs. Slavery!) and b) if you’re going to emphasize MoS!Supes as Kal-El and not Clark (i.e. the Tarantino approach), then you need a Luthor who isn’t as physically imposing standing next to Henry Cavill. Ejiofor can play it “smaller,” I think than Elba. Of course, now that I’ve said that, they might just cast Elba as Darkseid.
Feel free to continue and jump in down below!