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The Key to Movie Casting

What does it take to cast the perfect actor/actress into a comic book role? This is a question that has been on my mind for the past month or so. Is it physical appearance; that exact replica of a particular character’s facial expressions? Is it the way the actor carries his/herself; a way that mirrors the character in question? Or perhaps it goes deeper, to an emotional tie between the upbringing and experiences of a character and how they coincide with an actor? It is definitely an interesting topic, and one that I believe I have come to grips with in terms of my own understanding. So, without further ado, allow me to present to you my beliefs about the casting process and the keys to it. I will present two in-depth examples of, what I believe to be, perfect casting choices to further illustrate my points (then two brief examples).

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First and foremost, I bring one of the most complex characters in the Marvel 616-verse; Natasha Romanova/The Black Widow. Now, as we are all aware, Scarlett Johansson landed this role in Iron Man 2 and, in my personal opinion, she did do the character a form of justice. I wasn’t critical of her role per se, more or less critical of the restriction that John Faverau was under (he was unable to give too much screen time to Black Widow, as she was just a supporting character). Scarlett brought the mysterious personality which is so paramount to Natasha’s character (“from legal” was perfect) however, I just felt there was something missing. Then I realised what it was after watching the movie a couple more times on DVD. She lacked finesse. The Black Widow is graceful, deadly, mysterious but above all else, she carries a level of finesse that makes her character so attractive, and I am not talking in the physical sense. 

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What actress could possibly carry all these traits and still make the character so likable? Natalie Dormer. Some of you will recognise her from the Tudors. Those of you with sharp memories will also remember she played an unimportant (or important, rather) role of that lucky woman who hooked up with Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger. I encourage you to stop for a moment, and take the time to watch some of this short interview; there I can guarantee you will see a piece of Natasha Romanova as she speaks. Sure, she has a British accent, but that can be fixed with dialect coaching. What Natalie has is something so many mainstream actresses lack these days: she carries finesse. Not only is the physical appearance strikingly similar to the scan I provided (bar the red hair), but the way she speaks, the facial emotions and overall the way she carries herself with a mystery confidence. That is Natasha Romanova. 

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Next up on my list is Daredevil. The movie was a flop and had so many things wrong with it (and this is coming from someone who has multiple Daredevil Omnibus comics in his collection). Ben Affleck was ... well, he was okay ... but okay doesn’t do a character like Murdock justice. What you need is someone who can carry the baggage that Murdock so desperately clings onto. To take a line from Daredevil #100 (of Brubaker’s run), Elektra tells Matt to stop clinging onto the past but he responds with “the past clings onto me”. Boom! So much insight into Murdock’s character right there! What does it tell you? He refuses to forgive himself for things in the past, and even if he tries to, they still haunt him. He’s selfish in that he refuses to torment himself ever again and therefore will, ironically, devote his entire life to protecting others. Above all else, Murdock is burdened, but he is a fighter. Like his dad before him, Murdock is a raw, burdened fighter. What actor could bring this across?

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Aaron Eckhart. He was brilliant as Harvey Dent in the Dark Knight, make no mistake. But I don’t believe that Harvey was the perfect character for Aaron. No, he needs to play as someone on the justice side of the spectrum. I strongly advise you watch Rabbit Hole if you cannot see what I see. He plays a husband who lost their son (Nicole Kidman was nominated for an Oscar for her performance, what a shame Aaron wasn’t). The depth of which Aaron tries to bury the sadness and press on, yet so desperately clinging to the past is just a perfected representation of Matt Murdock. Not only that, but he actually looks the part. Here is a direct out-take from the script-log of the original Daredevil; Daredevil #1.

“At Age eight, Matt Murdock is a dirty faced little terror. His hair is an overgrown weed, bright orange in color.”

The hair! The dastardly orange hair! What actor in their right mind would willingly dye their hair to that colour? Aaron doesn’t need to, because it is his natural colour. I know I stated that looking the part was only a third of the process, but Aaron has it nailed right from the get-go. Dare I say, the man is Matthew Murdock personified. The way Aaron carries himself, the way that he appears, the depth to his facial expressions; it is all a direct indication of Matt Murdock. That is how you cast an actor.

This blog will go on too long if I go into deep analysis of the other two characters I had prepared, so instead, I will just provide pictures and captions and allow you to decide for yourself. 

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Christina Hendricks for Poison Ivy. Physically, this woman has every single aspect of Ivy, aside from the green skin. Not only that, but if you have sat down to watch Mad Men, you will see that the attitude Christina bears when on screen is ominously similar to Pamela Isely, especially similar to Gotham City Sirens’ Ivy.


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Bradley Cooper for an older Bucky Barnes. I have the A-Team on DVD, and after watching Bradley a number of times, then flicking through my mountain of comics with Bucky as Cap, I realised he would be perfect. In the A-Team, Cooper is a joker and a pretty boy, but I wholeheartedly believe that, if he turned his serious game-face on, he could perfectly pull off the older and mature post-Winter Soldier Bucky. 

Bringing this entry to a close, I would like to state my beliefs once more. An actor/actress must have the physical qualities, that is a given, but it is only a third of the formula. They need to carry the emotional load that the character bears and not only that, but they need to carry themselves in the way that the respective character does so.

Thank you for reading and feel free to provide your opinions.