Casting Comic To Film Adaptions: Deep Dive Daredevils

Once again I invite you to join me in casting one of my favorite webcomics, this time Deep Dive Daredevils. Or, more exactly, the third storyline: Pitch Black Day. You may remember that my very first post on this blog was an analysis of the excellent plotting of that story.

[Note: The Deep Dive Daredevils just resumed their adventure after an announced hiatus the writers and artists needed to make sure the next chapter will be awesome.]

I will start by talking about how I would arrange the screenplay, and then move on to the actual casting. And as always, you are invited to comment and discuss, agree or disagree, and tell us what’s on your mind.

There will be spoilers, so I encourage you to check out and read the just about 60 pages of Pitch Black Day before you proceed! Also, you probably won’t understand much of what I’m talking about unless you have read the comic.

Plot Arrangement

As I noted in my first post, the main plot structure of Pitch Black Day is excellent, so there would be little need to change for adaptions. The only – and worthy – challenge would be the editing (cross-cutting) of interweaved scenes in the latter part.

On the other hand, the presentation of the back matter in Pitch Black Day poses a problem. Remember, at the intermission between each chapter, Pitch Black Day features some really cool in-universe documents describing the back story of Dracula, SIS Section X, and Abigail Singer.

I really want to create flashback scenes for the back matter instead of just reading them out loud!

My first idea was to create a framing narration structure in which both the story chapters and the back matter scenes are introduced like video presentations. But while I think such a structure can work – some 1980’s French spy movies made good use of a pseudo-documentary style  – I’m not really satisfied with that approach.

There’s a better way. If we see Abigail steal all the documents from the ultra-secret evidence facility, and she takes them with her on board the Custer, we can display the flashback scenes while Abigail, or a crew member, reads the respective document.

So I would start the movie with an extensive James Bond style pre-title-vignette:

  • The first thing we see is water, with a caption and voice-over identifying place – The Irish Sea, off Blackpool – and the time. Then we see a submarine periscope breaking the surface, which will rotate slowly, indicating the Captain taking a good look at the surroundings. Afterwards a snorkel – which will set off the anachronism alert for history buffs at the earliest possible moment – and then an antenna pylon break the surface.
  • Next we see a female agent – Abigail – sending a Morse code message using a WW II style spy radio transmitter suitcase. This happens on land, near the premise of the Ultra J Level evidence facility in Leeds, as is indicated by caption and/or voice over.
  • Aboard the Custer, the message is deciphered as time and date for a secret rendezvous.
  • Then we see, montage-style, how Abigail breaks into the facility and steals the documents
  • Finally, Abigail joins the Custer. (Maybe by seaplane?)

During the titles and the music, we see a nautical chart where the course of the Custer is plotted from the Irish Sea to the mid-Atlantic.

At the start of the movie proper, we are on page one of the comic!

I’d handle the end of the story, told in the final back matter section in the comic, quite similarly: During the end credit, I’d show on a map how the Custer moves to different ports, disembarks Abigail in Bombay, and sails towards the Pacific Ocean while the map display fades out, and then add an after-credit-scene – probably a montage – that shows Abigail going after Jack The Ripper.

Casting Principles

Since this is pretty much a thought experiment, I don’t need to base my choices on any fixed point in time, i.e. I will mix actors at a certain age even if the relative ages would never fit.

And my goal is not to recreate the visuals of the comic perfectly, so I’m not going to look at which actor looks most similar to the comic character as drawn. Just like Krysten Ritter doesn’t look exactly like Jessica Jones from the comics, nor Margot Robbie like comic book Harley Quinn.

The Main Cast:

  • Joe: In all likelihood this will be my most controversial choice. I’d not cast an actual boy, or a boyish looking adolescent, but rather make him seemingly ill-fitted to be XO of a submarine in a different way. I’d cast RJ Mitte at the age he had for the first season of Breaking Bad. On board of the Custer, he walks with crutches, but when he goes into action, he wears some kind of exosceleton device.
  • Abigail Singer: Another crazy choice of mine. Instead of all the others you guys will come up with, I choose MirandaHart. I loved her as Melissa McCarthy’s sidekick in Spy, and she is an English aristocrat progeny turned common brat. I heard some people complain about her funny line in Spy either badly written or delivered, but I can neither confirm nor refute such claims, as I’ve seen the movie twice, but both times with German dubbing.
  • Dr. McCarver: I wouldn’t really have thought of casting Laurence Fishburne based only on his role as Morpheus in the Matrix, but after seeing him recently as a professor for forensic in CSI, I really like that idea.
  • Dracula: Instead of looking for an actor who can properly play an Hungarian aristocrat, I’d focus on the contrast between manners and politeness on one side, diabolical power greed and abusive mind-control on the other, and cast David Tennant, who played the extremely creepy supervillain Kilgrave on Jessica Jones.
  • Captain Custer: Mickey Rourke with the hard-boiled look he had as Marv in Sin City.
  • Father McFlaherty: For an Irishman who is a badass fighter against evil, we cannot go wrong with Pierce Brosnan, can we?
  • McGinty: Liam Cunningham from Game Of Thrones is a strong option for a strong guy.
  • Deveraux: Even though he may not be as popular in the US and elsewhere as he is in Europe, I’ll cast Jean-Paul Belmondo, at the age he had when he was in Breathless (the French original of course, not the 1983 American remake).
  • Twitchy: You may call me lazy and point out that Peter Dinklageis another Game Of Thrones actor, but I only know him as the wonderful mathematician and linguist from Threshold. And no, I don’t have any real justification for casting him; I just like the idea.
  • Dr. Spett: You may or may not remember Jürgen Prochnow from Das Boot; he can certainly play an armseliger Bösewicht from Germany.

Additional Characters For The Flashbacks:

  • Jehan Bumpass: I’d cast Amanda Redman, who played Sandra Pullman in the British crime series New Tricks.
  • Marvyn Astor (SISX Protocol 15 Supervisor): Since this is a very minor character, I have no misgivings about taking a rather obvious choice with Mark Strong (Merlin from Kingsman).
  • Old Director SISX (Alistair Thorpe): In my opinion David McCallum, who plays Donald Mallard on NCIS, could give this character all the necessary depth, charm, and tiredness.
  • New Director SISX: We never get the name of this gentleman, but the meanness shown would be a great contrast to Gary Oldman‘s very sympathetic portrayal of George Smiley.
  • Principal, Miss Brindley’s School For Wayward Girls: How about Gillian Anderson with her trademark unamused look and posture, and her low tolerance for spooky nonsense?

We would certainly need to cast even more characters for additional supporting roles, but I don’t really have strong ideas about those. Maybe you have? Tell us in the comments!

What’s On Your Mind?

Do you agree or disagree with my choices? Do you have other suggestions? Do you have favorite casting choices for other webcomics? Tell us in the comments!

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3 comments

  1. Hi Timothy !
    First of all, thank you for talking about our comic ! And this casting play really surprised me !
    Laurence Fishbourne and Mickey Rourke are very good choices… but for Abigail I´ll chose a more HOT kind of female… with a strong character of course.
    For Joe, I tell you where i got my visual inspiration from: the Norman Rockwell illustrations.
    And for Dracula, I´ll chose an older actor…The one who plays Tywin Lannister (talking about Game of Thrones again) is a perfect example for me…

    Well, thanks again and I hope you enjoy this new adventure of the DDD !
    Regards from Argentina,

    DANILO GUIDA

    Like

    1. Hi Danilo,

      glad you enjoyed this. I think that your comic is well worth talking about. And I’m certainly aboard with the new DDD adventure, even though being aboard CSS Hunley is not the wisest choice.

      Your comments make sense to me. There are certainly other valid casting choices, along with more general stylistic or tonal choices, that would fit the comic and its characters at least as well.

      Lucky me: I don’t have to answer to a board of directors.

      Regards from Germany,
      Timothy

      Like

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