Thursday, May 29, 2014

Updated Fan Casting For An X-23 Live Action Movie

I've gone over this topic many times in the past, but for this one, I wanted to try a new approach.  If you want to read over the previous an entry will be following somewhat soon that archives them all into one handy reference list.

Thanks to X-Men: Days Of Future Past we're given a clean slate to work with entirely.  (A spoiler filled post about that is coming up!)

For this one, I wanted to use the best elements from each to create a new singular vision on what it could convey overall for an origin feature.  Is this the definitive entry on it?  Probably not as I do have more ideas about this that I'm saving for other entries on this topic soon.  In particular an idea where I kind of want to see the X-23 role itself portrayed by several actresses pertaining to how it's handled for which film.  There are many actresses that could handle this role per the type of story being told.  There's even the possibility of allowing several actresses to portray X-23 within the same film if they were to approach it more towards a mix of Grindhouse and the Batman The Animated Series episode "Legends of the Dark Knight."  An episode that featured several stories of Batman in different styles based around the recollection and stories that kids told from their perspectives.  In X-23's instance, it would be people she's saved. (A full post on that is coming up too!)

For X-23's origin story to be told in its entirety though as one complete solid feature film, currently this is where I personally lean.

Dr. Sarah Kinney
Laura's mother.

Summer Glau is an obvious choice as she brings much to the table from her heavily geek oriented filmography.  She also presents an interesting symbolic moment of passing on the torch so to speak.  The main drawback here being that she's already portrayed a character similar to this.  It does nothing about bolstering her filmography and really is only asking her to reprise a role she's pretty much already done before that has led to a similar outcome.  It'd create quick comparisons to her character from Dollhouse and may even induce an overall audience confusion between the two roles.

Recently, I've started to grow fond of the idea of Eliza Dushku portraying Dr. Sarah Kinney.  She has the talent to make this role standout and be fully defined.  Her animation voice work has shown a capability for line delivery to convey Dr. Sarah Kinney's letter with an unmatched oomph.  She's displayed such capabilities as Selina Kyle in the Batman: Year One animated movie as well as the Catwoman animated short.  The multitude of video game voice over work she's done (Rubi Malone in Wet, Shaundi in Saints Row 2, and Killer Frost in Batman: Assault on Arkham) helps further the point of how well her narration of the Dr. Kinney letter could go for the overall initial narrative before the story shifts back to Laura's perspective.  She carries within that same symbolic notion of passing on the torch as Summer Glau represents, and in many ways, does so to an even deeper degree.  Having portrayed Faith in Buffy: The Vampire Slayer followed by copious amounts of empowering female protagonists, she truly stands as a pure icon of women are bad ass.  From Tru Davis in Tru Calling, to Echo in Dollhouse, even her genre stereotype mocking portrayal of the jewel thief Sissy in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, she has proven time and time again to be one of the women that helped define for the decade what being a bad ass on the screen can be.  If not for her successes and how well she portrayed her characters, we may have never had a River Tam for Summer Glau to portray, or had Dollhouse last as long as it did for them to introduce Summer Glau's character.  Currently Ms. Dushku is voicing Jennifer Walters (aka She-Hulk) in Marvel's Agents of S.M.A.S.H.  She may very well be a fan of Marvel comics to begin with and may relish the chance to portray such a character in live action that's also obviously well within her wheelhouse of talent.  With her in the role of Sarah Kinney, it could bring a new level to that metaphorical passing of the torch to a new icon of female empowerment.

Laura Kinney

Recently I've started leaning more towards Lucy Hale for this role.  That old yet young Tennessee soul she carries in her music and the astounding range she's displayed in Pretty Little Liars brings a tangible reality to the role outright for an origins piece.  Her previous work in Fear Island has shown she is capable of displaying that cold offsetting stare blended with innocence, and her role in Sorority Wars has helped show how diverse her acting talent is for the more happy celebrating life scenes.  Pretty Little Liars is what really hammered down the point perfectly though.  During season 4 in particular, she absolutely perfected the kind of blended emotional fury that'd be needed for this character.  Ms. Hale's range is truly underrated as she's shown time and time again that any role that comes her way she can carry with an unmatched authenticity that makes her characters feel genuine and come alive on the screen.  Even her eyes carry that hue that make her perfect for the role.

Not only is her eye color a close match to the character, but her acting talent reaches her eyes which is one of the reasons all the characters she's portrayed come across as authentic people in their own right.  She lacks a defining action piece for her filmography as well which helps overall bolster the potential of her in this role.  This prevents any form of typecasting and presents an opportunity of subterfuge to the role that can carry well over to the audience themselves.  This allows the character to shine on screen and help truly make the audience feel her plight as well as help convey the more direct shocking nature that elements of the origin story have that show the horror of what's been done to her.  Ms. Hale presents an interesting opportunity to both do this story proper justice as well as yield an interesting blend of comic accuracy to film universe accuracy without having to compromise the integrity of all that the character is.  She presents a unique spin with her social media marketing skills and in many ways already fits perfectly for this role overall.  Her ample charity work and endorsement of causes that look to help children and women further helps show she herself embodies all that is Laura Kinney in many ways off screen already.  Even the song "Nervous Girls" on her upcoming country album Road Between (in stores June 3rd!), her commentary about it and what it means to her all speak to how well she truly does carry the essence of this character within that could shine unmatched on the silver screen.  Marvel should take notice of her as well, many of her geek fans are already starting to push wanting her to portray Kate Bishop (the *other* Hawkeye) for the Disney owned Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Debra Kinney
Sarah Kinney's sister, Laura's aunt, & Megan's mother.

Ginnifer Goodwin quickly comes to mind per her role as Snow White in Once Upon A Time.  It's hard to pick anyone else that stands out and defines the struggling single mother role that Debra Kinney is as well as Ginnifer Goodwin could portray.  Ms. Goodwin's hairstyles for her role in Once Upon a Time is a perfect match for Debra Kinney's as well.  To the point if you wanted to make an X-23 fan trailer, Once Upon A Time is the best show to draw scenes from to portray Debra Kinney.  Ms. Goodwin has the talent to carry the role and defines this casting as well Patrick Stewart himself evokes Charles Xavier.  She is just as suited for the Dr. Sarah Kinney role itself as well thanks to her wealth of talent displayed in her various works.

Megan Kinney
Laura's cousin, & Debbie Kinney's daughter

Megan Kinney is the confidante and rapport point for Laura.  She humanizes Laura and shows her the beauty in the world from the simplest aspects of everyday life.  Megan is a character that can be portrayed by many actresses, but two in particular standout for this role.  Ashley Benson of Pretty Little Liars fame has the acting range that could the spectrum of emotions Megan yields, and we've also seen Ms. Benson's onscreen chemistry with Lucy Hale through that show as well.  Ms. Benson brings a lightheartedness to behind the scenes that may be much needed for some of the more drama heavy aspects of the film.  Her presence involved could help keep the filming and those following the filming from becoming too muddied up in the darker aspects this film presents at times.  The high jinks that her and Ms. Hale could get into behind the scene while also tweeting about the filming could play well to the film itself as the same happens to Laura and Megan within the film.  There's a mirroring here that helps push the marketing itself in a fun lighthearted manner.  Both being part of the PLL family also yields that already built bond that helps play into that kind of marketing.

There's also Britt Roberts who has handled similar characters to Megan via Secret Circle and Life Unexpected.  Ms. Roberts has shown directly the exact emotional spectrum needed to portray Megan repeatedly.  So much so, that if you were to make a fan trailer and wanted to feature Megan in it, all three shows mentioned would be great drawing from points(Pretty Little Liars for Benson, and then Secret Circle or Life Unexpected for Roberts).

X-23's Handler.

Kimura is a character that's hard to figure out who could portray her best for the big or small screen.  There are a lot of character history questions that haven't been explored yet fully in the comics on her heritage.  Personally, I lean on Naya Rivera to portray this character because she has that onscreen attitude that works well with the character and the balanced filmography that really helps sell the point.  It'd allow Ms. Rivera to have a breakout big screen role, and would also really sell the character as believable.  The only other actresses that could match this that I'm aware of are Mila Kunis and Shay Mitchell.  Mila Kunis with her filmography (especially American Psycho 2: All American Girl) carries all the skill needed to sell the look and character as believable onscreen.  Shay Mitchell with her cheery demeanor and emotional spectrum as shown on Pretty Little Liars also presents an interesting spin on the character.  Ms. Mitchell's line delivery could carry that joyful eeriness that Kimura is known for with her blend of acting talent that would make the portrayal the stuff of nightmares for any age.  All around all 3 choices present their own spin and bring interesting potential to the character that will linger in your mind long after the film is over.  Personally, I'm still leaning on Naya Rivera overall for this role because of the bite she's displayed over in Glee, but all three do present potential and should be given the chance to audition for such a role.  Assuming at least if they are interested in it.  Overall, it'd be interesting to see which works best with the cast in question and the intended vision the director may have in mind for what's needed to be portrayed and felt onscreen from this character.

Agent Alisande Morales
MRD/FBI Agent assigned the X-23 case.

Easily this role could be portrayed by Michelle Rodriguez or Cote de Pablo.  The question is if Fox has the rights to her.  If not, as she is an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. an appearance in the MCU under the same actresses would also be heavily advisable.  Unless Marvel and Fox could work together to allow this to feature Steve "Captain America" Rogers himself, Alisande Morales is a decent replacement for his role.  This would shift up her interaction with X-23 from Not Forgotten to the origin tale instead, which means the role she plays in Not Forgotten would have to be changed or used by a different character.  It could also be slightly altered to fit the fact she has met X-23 previously and there are many story directions that could take on why she would be re-assigned this case having thought X-23 had gone back to the life Morales tried to save her from.  Which of course would only be because of misinformation from the Facility.  It's not likely that the rights are available for this character under Fox's current paradigm.  So it may be best to start thinking of a replacement for the replacement.  Which brings us to...

Agent Neena "Domino" Thurman
Mutant that works for the MRD or FBI that's assigned the X-23 case.

While the original story didn't feature Domino herself at all.  Due to rights issues, a backup plan should be in place in case Alisande Morales is in Marvel's rights playbook instead of Fox's.  With Morales being an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. there might need to be some adjustment for her usage as the replacement for Captain America's role that she could replace.  With using Domino for this, it allows several factors to come into play.  It showcases that in this new X-Men cinematic universe the Mutant Response Division exists, and it does have mutants employed for a co-operative effort.  This helps set the stage for many things.  In doing this it presents a more expanded view on how Xavier's dream has impacted this new world.  It also helps set Domino herself up for how she could be in X-Force and why X-23 could be too.  In having Domino in the origin feature for X-23 in Steve Rogers spot, it helps show us exactly how X-23 could be captured for how she was interrogated.  Domino's lucky powers help make that scenario come across as believable.  This sets the stage for X-Force by also showing that Domino as a federal employee sees the horrors committed against mutants by hate groups daily.  While her employers may not be able to do anything, with her resources she may reach out to or help form a group that can.  In doing this, it also helps set the stage for an X-Force: Not Forgotten feature.  By having Domino having gone rogue from her MRD agency, another agent may be assigned her cases.  Which could lead to the events as depicted in Not Forgotten that Alisande Morales experiences.  This in turn would help come back around to having that agent understand why agent Thurman had gone rogue and potentially even setup a point of X-Force now having a person on the inside of the MRD.  On a character standpoint, Domino herself shares many of the same notes that X-23's story does.  So it may play well to her own narrative to be the character that frees Laura, and begins the same turning point for Domino that mirrors what Sarah Kinney had come to the conclusion of towards the end of her part of the story.  It also helps highlight that as a mutant within the organization she recognizes the abuse that could happen to Laura if the MRD got their hands on her.

Doug Ramsey
A mutant that acts as a liaison/lawyer for mutant rights.

Fox has lost the rights to Daredevil.  So Matt Murdock's being in the origin tale would have to be shuffled off to a different character that could equally convey what he is used for.  Doug "Cypher" Ramsey of the New Mutants presents a similar ability via a different route.  This allows the X-Men cinematic universe to portray a slightly older New Mutants character that helps set the stage for them to have a period film that's set prior to these events.  Cypher with his language ability presents an interesting notion to explore as well.  Body language is a language unto itself too.  By reading it, he could tell if X-23 is lying or not.  This gives the same facet that Matt Murdock is used for in the story as a human lie detector, alongside setting up more stories that could be told for later within the confines of this character's own history by being presented.  Unless Fox and Marvel can work together.  In which case, the Daredevil actor from his upcoming netflix miniseries should be used to best match the original story.  Allowing both characters to be mutants for the portion they represent also brings a new dynamic to their scenes and final decision.

James "Logan" Howlett  
The man known as the Wolverine.

Hugh Jackman is the definitive Logan/Wolverine.  He has defined the role for over a decade.  This story in particular makes for a great cornerstone to that portrayal.  It'd allow a fitting sendoff for his portrayal of the character, if he is inclined to want to hang up the claws.  It would highlight and showcase his passing of the torch to someone new and it'd give Fox a character that could easily gain just as much attention and fanfare.  Even if he chose to stay on for a few more X-Men cinematic universe features after this, it'd still help set the stage on not needing to recast his character anytime soon in the foreseeable future.

On the marketing side.  It'd still be best to push this from the angle of X-23: Daughter of Wolverine as the origin starting point title.  This angle raises eyebrows immediately.  On the negative side, it does bring definition to X-23's character by her tie to a male character, which is problematic if you assume that is based on misogyny reasons as opposed to seeing it for the intent of using that character only as a point of reference for audiences unaware of who she is.  Audiences immediately want to question this aspect of Wolverine has a daughter?  It piques their interest immediately because they do know who Wolverine is.  Go ask your casual X-Men movie viewer.  Ask them simply "would you watch a movie that was about Wolverine's daughter?"  See how they react.  Due to modern science fertility treatments among other developing sciences, it's not far off from the heart of the character.  The semantic argument it presents also starts a dialogue among fans and creates its own form of immediate geek buzz that will spill over to the mainstream and science circles.  All around this makes the marketing angle start to create its own news cycle and attention.  It'll spark conversations across many topics.

Mix this in with other aspects of notice and choices like approaching this as a reverse dynamic of The Women by using an all female led talents of the industry for behind the scenes, as well as a charity that pushes for helping women escape abusive situations or stopping sexual abuse or fighting human trafficking and you've got a potential box office juggernaut that would be talked about for years.  The all around message within the story, the heroes it highlights, and the familial dynamics alongside these choices would help cement the film as one for the history books as well as make a difference.  Not only could it break the box office, it could change lives in doing so.

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