By Arturo R. García
Film bloggers got a bit abuzz last week at reports that an all-female spinoff of the Expendables franchise was being developed, with “several prominent actresses affiliated with the action genre” being contacted.
This being Hollywood, of course, don’t expect too much on the diversity front–heck, even seeing Jet Li as part of the crew in Sylvester Stallone’s original ensemble and Yu Nan and Terry Crews in the sequel–is about as good as we’re probably going to get in that series.
But here at Chromatic Casting, we know we can do better. And so we’ll give it a shot under the cut.
Keeping in mind that this series basically involves anthropomorphic tropes as characters, we won’t get too deep with the descriptions, but we’ll slot folks into some archetypal roles for the protagonist team, with the villains being a bit more fluid.
By Arturo R. García
The image above is the last page of DC Comics’ new Suicide Squad #1, which debuted yesterday. And to the chagrin of many fans thus far, the woman in the panel on the left is writer Adam Glass and penciller Marco Rudy’s “reimagined” take on Amanda Waller.
In her original incarnation, seen at right, the woman known as “The Wall” was notable not only for being a non-superpowered human with the confidence and cunning to stand up to the likes of Batman, but to be consistently presented as DC’s resident spymaster (she was frequently involved with prior incarnations of the Dirty Dozen-like Squad), but for being depicted as powerful without looking like the “superhuman ideal.”
The character has also emigrated onto other media platforms. CCH Pounder voiced an animated version of Waller in the Justice League Unlimited animated series; Pam Grier played her on television during the final season of Smallville; and earlier this year, Amanda Bassett stepped into the character for the movie Green Lantern. That said, Waller’s involvement as a “star” in the comics has primarily been restricted to espionage-type titles like Suicide Squad or Checkmate, where she was part of an ensemble. She’s never been called upon to carry a title on her own.
Which makes the decision to revamp the character – whether it was Glass and Rudy’s choice, or something dictated to them by DC head honchos Dan DiDio, Jim Lee and Geoff Johns – even more ill-considered than their decision to draw up a Suicide Girls-like character (seen at left) and call her Harley Quinn. What made Waller unique was that she really did look like a regular person – she just had enough of an iron will to maneuver herself into a position of power. For DC to seemingly transform her into one more skinny gal seems to be a particularly arbitrary choice in a company-wide relaunch that has already divided its’ existing fanbase. Or, if this move was made in order to entice new readers to give the new Squad a shot, then who does this company exactly want to attract? This guy?
Update: Glass was quoted by Bleeding Cool as saying, “Amanda Waller is not defined by her size but by her attitude and she still has plenty of that.” Which doesn’t explain the change at all, of course. Bleeding Cool also reported that Rudy has been replaced as the penciller for the series in favor of Federico Dellocchio.
By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García
The Last Airbender director M. Night Shyamalan finally addressed the controversy over the white-washing of his film’s casting in a recent interview. Without further ado, here’s a few excerpts …
Here’s the thing. The great thing about anime is that it’s ambiguous. The features of the characters are an intentional mix of all features. It’s intended to be ambiguous. That is completely its point. So when we watch Katara, my oldest daughter is literally a photo double of Katara in the cartoon. So that means that Katara is Indian, correct? No that’s just in our house. And her friends who watch it, they see themselves in it. And that’s what’s so beautiful about anime …
I was without an agenda, and just letting it come to the table. Noah [Ringer, who plays Aang] is a photo double from the cartoon. He is spot on. I didn’t know their backgrounds, and to me Noah had a slightly mixed quality to him. So I cast the Airbenders as all mixed-race. So when you see the monks, they are all mixed. And it kind of goes with the nomadic culture and the idea that over the years, all nationalities came together.
On the casting of the Fire Nation, and Dev Patel as Zuko:
The Fire Nation was the most complicated. I kept switching who was playing Zuko. It was such a complicated and drawn out thing, about practical matters. But the first person that I was considering casting for Zuko was Ecuadorian. So I started thinking that way. Then when that person couldn’t do it, the next person who came in was much more Caucasian. And then we had to switch everything around …
… Dev ended up being my choice for Zuko, and I looked for an Uncle that could be in that realm, for a moment I thought about Ben Kingsley. But Shaun Toub, I just loved him in Iron Man. I thought this takes us into a Mediterranean kind of Arab and Indian world, and I can go as far as that, that will be the breadth of the Fire Nation, that kind of look.