Sunday, December 29, 2013

Fan Casting X-23: Part I've-lost-track-of-how-many-of-these-I've-written-but-I-still-like-writing-them.

I've been rather vocal on this to the point that I've probably driven a handful of people nuts in the process.  This one in particular isn't entirely for the sake of clarifying the reasons for my personal choices, but to also echo the sentiments expressed herein.

So we're going to run through this one more time!  That's right, we're talking about the lead trio of characters that would need to be cast in an X-23 origin feature.

Now before diving into this, it should be mentioned the other side of the equation with Laura's mother has been pretty solidified from the fan perspective at least.  Summer Glau as Dr. Sarah Kinney yields too many great possibilities with her range.  She also carries an element of passing the torch down to the next actress picking up a role that carries many of the same subtexts as her character River Tam of Firefly fame had.  This prevents herself from being typecast into the role, expands her character range, as well as gives all the fans who originally wanted her as X-23 a small nod to appease them.  It lets them know they were heard, and their thoughts considered but adapted to be fitting with how long it's taken to bring this film to life.  Now instead of as X-23, Summer Glau would literally be the mother of X-23.  She would still be a part of the project allowing for that fan nod, and yet also in a manner that'd allow for more freedom with character growth and conveyance over a blossoming new franchise's time.

That brings us to the young trio of actresses that would need to portray the characters the rest of the movie centers around.  Much of X-23's origin tale centers around Laura herself, Megan Kinney, and Kimura.

Scary yet innocent.
So starting off with Laura, let's dive into what's needed with her casting.  She'd need to be an actress that could carry the facial expressions, the emotionless blank stares, the playful annoyance at those in her way, that look of pure almost childlike mischief, yet also the passionate roaring at life, and genuine smiles and happiness Laura experiences throughout the story.  It'd need to be someone that can handle believably the full range of emotions Laura expresses within the story and express them well on screen.

She'd need to be an actress that could carry the emotional conveyance as well as the style that Laura is known for.

Standing against bullying.
It'd also much benefit the film if she were a star that's vocal on matters of uplifting others and empowering women to express themselves.  She'd need to be an active outspoken role-model in expressing the concerns that such a story like X-23 entails.  An actress that truly wants to help others stand on their own two feet to become better people, to learn to help themselves, and yet also able to help them find their voice along the way in how they do it.  Someone who stands against the hate and trolls but someone that does so with genuine love and caring.  Someone that's not afraid to be that ear needed, and will gladly interact with fans out of feeling just like them.  Someone that's still humble, but also capable of so much.  Someone that's seen first hand what real life is like and what people are like, but also hasn't let the fame separate them so much as to feel above the average audience.

"No popping foot claws today.  I like these boots."
Someone believable and earnest.  That could genuinely make you feel for Laura's plight as well as sympathize.  Someone that makes you think of X-23 the second she's on screen, and yet also still embodies the everyday girl and all the troubles they may face day in and day out in our modern world.  There's also the subtexts that X-23 plays to.  On top of the thick science fiction glossy layer you have parallels to the objectification and treatment that young stars face regularly from the general public in how they are treated and misunderstood.  Young women especially who have amazing voices and talents; full on entrepreneurs carrying the weight of their own goals and dreams through their endeavors and never truly given the full credit for all that they do.  They end up becoming seen as set pieces and props for others to gossip about.  Their lives analyzed day in and day out.  Their love life the talk of the town while others try and tell them where they should go and who they should see instead of letting them choose.  Lives touted as personal soap operas with others trying to decide for them or pressuring them.  Acts of verbal and lyrical abuse ignored because of ignorance.  The guilt trips that others play to try and have their way.  The list goes on and on.  Yet these aren't acts that stars alone face.  Young women face these things everyday in their own lives as well.

Young women, still trying to understand life, face pressures and those that try and manipulate them into doing what that person wants.  They use their names as props or notches.  Trophies for them to tout of conquests.  They direct them around with these thinly veiled abusive behaviors calling it love, but much like triggerscent itself, it's done in such a manner that it puts them between a rock and a hard place.  Boys not understanding the true meaning of love over lust and thinking their demands matter more over another's life and happiness, their own right to choose freely, pull these stunts while perpetually stuck in the maturity of a simple middle school child no matter their age.  Then adults turn around and condone this behavior.  The exact people that are supposed to step in and protect others can't see the line or the difference in what sets these acts apart.  You have one side about love and adoration that uplifts, and another that speaks of obsession and infatuation.  Yet without having the maturity to see the difference, both sides are considered the same when they're not(we will be diving into this topic at a later date as it's a topic oft misunderstood, and sickening to see condoned).  Adults that are supposed to know this line, look past it and consider this abuse cute and endearing.  Their unthinking support and additional pressure can make young women even further confused on these subjects of what's acceptable behavior.  Forcing these young women to lose themselves in the process.  It further hinders their growth into what they could be and all that they could do.  Their own accomplishments are ignored in favor of adding to these pressures.

X-23 represents symbolically all of these things with what she's experienced throughout her life.  Finding a star that could match that and still roar back would seemingly be impossible.  That is at least if it wasn't already happening in Hollywood.  Women of all walks of life face these issues.   There is no real separation of life constants no matter where you are.  Women are taught to smile and deal with it, while boys are praised for it while they drag another's name through the mud and abuse them.  Women that should rightfully stand up on their own feet and say they've had enough of being treated for less than who they are inside and out are treated as the bad guys while their oppressors are hailed.  Laura, the character presents an opportunity to roar back.  That women aren't objects to dirty or batter.  Boys are taught that they are supposed to act out and force their way, to treat a woman badly so that she keeps coming back, but that's not love.  That's not true affection.  It just perpetuates the cycle and helps further make the woman in question lose herself to being another's keeper when she has every right to lead a beautiful life of her own making.

These are many reasons why I lean on my personal actress choice for the role of Laura Kinney herself.  Selena Gomez has seen firsthand how the world acts and reacts to these situations in her own life.  Her own filmography speaks of a diverse skill set that covers a wide array of potential and shows she has the scope to handle this character on levels few could match.  Her role in Spring Breakers shows a wide array of talent that covers a third of the spectrum Laura Kinney herself has.  Her role in Getaway shows yet another third of the overall emotional spectrum and helps further her action movie and stunt experience.  Her roles in Monte Carlo and Ramona & Beezus helps further how well she can handle the friendship and family dynamic that elements of X-23's miniseries Target X displays.  Her role in Wizards of Waverly Place helped further her stunt work knowledge and special effects interaction acting while still also yielding a further example of an onscreen female bad ass.  Her clothing lines present unique opportunities that also help mirror that defining moment for X-23 that Jubilee gave her while shopping in the X-23 v3 comic.  She presents an opportunity for women to stand up for themselves and roar back to find and do what they want.  Of course, all that is assuming she'd even be interested in such a role, as only she can make that call for herself on whether or not to audition for it if it were to ever come up.  Though depending on the timing of when such a movie ever went into production, she also presents a unique opportunity to much later portray Dr. Sarah Kinney on screen as well due to how she stands to want to help uplift others.  A symbolic turn(assuming an X-23 film is 15+ years away from ever being developed) that could easily represent her own growth from child star to world respected icon in her own right.

Another role that's a complicated one to dive into is that of Megan Kinney.  The onscreen familial friendship between Laura and Megan has to have that natural chemistry that makes it play well onscreen for how much they support and care for each other.  Megan being Laura's cousin that showed her all the simple joys that life can entail.  Ashley Benson or Demi Lovato present interesting points for this potential.  Benson being one of the lead stars in ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars presents an actress that's trying to end body shaming, including how she even stood up to her own show for unrealistic touch ups to promo work that give unrealistic expectations for young women that want to try and match it.  Her character Hannah on the show presents many of the same issues all walks of life face for having different body types and what it can do to your self-esteem and the psychology that can drive one to extremes or harmful behaviors.  Demi Lovato herself has seemingly lived much of the same conflicts and emotions that run through the undertones of Laura's story.  Lovato presents a unique opportunity to redefine the role of Megan Kinney for the things she had to endure and how she used her style choices to evoke what she was feeling.  She's also stood up to even the largest of companies for their own misbehavior in condoning making light of issues that should never be treated as such.  Both yield interesting potential to the onscreen chemistry with the lead star choice in a film franchise vehicle that can help young women stand up for themselves and give the public a more rounded opportunity to dive into these topics further to show how scary it is, and yet also that there is hope for a better tomorrow.  That life carries on to get better.  A film like this yields an empowerment piece that shows you don't have to stand and take what the world throws at you.  You can roar back.

The next major role within the film is that of Kimura.  The natural opposite to X-23's character.  For this it's hard to truly pick who fits best.  There's Naya Rivera who represents an interesting counterpoint to her character Santana from Glee where she's already much displayed the natural wit and sarcastic bite to the role needed.  Granted her stunt training is marginally unknown as is her potential for acting within the confines of extreme special effects.  There's also Mila Kunis who represents strong potential among the older range Kimura might need depending on how the story angle handled the aging factor to Kimura's abilities.  She has a wide filmography and has already displayed her aptitude to this kind of role in previous forays that range from American Psycho 2: All American Girl, and Max Payne, to even Black Swan.  She also has that sarcastic bite albeit differently than Rivera's to line delivery that'd potentially be needed.

There's also Vanessa Hudgens who has just as wide a filmography and also helps play up to other facets within the subtext.  Hudgens having had her own wide array of stunt and effects acting experience within Sucker Punch itself also shows her capabilities in a story of such nature and willingness to want to portray a character in a film that could help uplift others while using a thick layer of imaginative fictional gloss that keeps audience interest piqued.  She also presents a unique opportunity with her own filmography having crossed over with Benson and Gomez in them having onscreen chemistry and natural trust in each other that may make more scenes believable as well as easier for them to film because of what they may entail.  It helps increase the comfort level that could make the scenes play better.  Though on that same token, it may also make the scenes harder to portray(but would still yield fun outtakes and bloopers!) as the strong emotions to the scenes of all three together cover a wide emotional range.  Having that bonded trust present though, may make the scenes work better overall as it helps the others still evoke that form of confidence in the face of adversity over the pure fear that someone they don't trust in that role may evoke.  It also helps break the tension onset to help each of them give the best performances they can.

 Between these first couple pieces of the larger puzzle, the makings of a poignant and powerful piece of cinema could take shape.  From it many discussions could be sparked, and it could lead the way in showing that young women are more than simply tools or objects.  They have choice, lives, loves, and passions to pursue.  They have just as much right to choose how they want to live their lives and should rightfully so cut out anyone that tries to abuse them or use them.  They should rightfully so be able to remove those that support women batterers and those that treat others as objects or set pieces to promote ideals of non-existent perfection that bully for this reason of simply being different and able to choose to love and grow as they see fit while still standing up for others.

Everyone deserves that freedom of choice and that freedom to stand up away from those that want to do nothing but drag them down.  It's truly that simple.  Audiences are already here for strong lead women roles that prove you can be a bad ass and yet still a caring and compassionate young woman.  Franchises like the Hunger Games already prove that it's possible if you maintain the heart and soul of the property along the way with the goal of simply making a good film that all would enjoy.  X-23 represents a chance to showcase and discuss many issues, but she also represents a chance to give audiences what they want to see.  The rise of a powerful young woman and her standing up for herself and family as any young person in general would want to do.  She presents a chance to give audiences the flashy action they want to see, but yet also a heartwarming and heartbreaking tale that has soul and substance within.  A character-centric piece that plays to all the strengths of what makes Marvel Comics great, but also plays to natural truths of the world all around us through the metaphors and subtext it carries within.

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