Casting Comics 2 Film Adaptions

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!

Casting Comic To Film Adaptions: Opportunities

Some time ago I came saw a discussion about which actors should play the main character in a live-action movie of a particular comic series. I don’t remember what triggered this discussion, and I don’t remember what comic series they were talking about. But I think it’s a cool game to play, to think about how a comic you like might be cast for live action movie or television.

I invite you to join me in casting some of my favorite webcomics, all of which have been mentioned in previous post on Provocative Praise. I will look at each webcomic in a separate post (hopefully interspersed by posts about other topics; I don’t want to become too predictable). Let’s have some fun!

I’ll start with Opportunities, which would be best adapted as a TV show rather than a movie.

I’d give it an unconventional narrative structure:

Remember, the webcomic starts with a four-page teaser that goes in medias res with full-blown action before the story rolls back four days and starts building up tension gradually.

In the TV show, with a first season of 13 episodes, the first twelve episodes tell the story starting from four days back, but the teaser of each episode, if spliced together, tell the in medias res action, and at the end of episode twelve the back storyline finally joins the teaser storyline, making episode thirteen an action-packed finale that resolves everything.

The main challenge of this structure is the arrangement of the episode teasers. Each one needs to have some meaning for the corresponding episode, the sequence of the teasers must form a coherent narrative, and the teasers must not reveal too much, compared to the progress of the episodes up to that point.

Now for the cast:

I list roles with the actor names, to indicate which look and acting style I consider fit for the character. I try not to go to far back in time, but  every movie or TV show from the 21st century is fair game, and actors can change a lot in 15 years. With alien characters, I distinguish between casting Rubber Forehead Aliens and Voice Actors. The former are aliens that would actually be played by actors, like Yondu or Thanos, and the latter are aliens were only the actors voice is used, like Rocket and Groot. [I don’t care about technicalities like whether motion capture is used etc.]

  • Sara Emmet: Carla Gugino (Dr. Molly Caffrey in Threshold)
  • Jack Frost: Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad)
  • Baron: Neil Patrick Harris (Barney Stintson in How I Met Your Mother)
  • Dr. Irving Stone: Chris Noth (Peter Florick in The Good Wife)
  • Irene Vanderwitt-Fitzwilliam:  Christine Baranski (Diane Lockhard in The Good Wife)
  • George Fitzwilliam: Colin Firth (Harry “Galahad” Hart in Kingsman)
  • Collin Parish: Bob Saget ( Theodore „Ted“ Evelyn Mosby in How I Met Your Mother)
  • Cortez: HTF do you cast Cortez? I drew a blank here. Please suggets a suitable actor!
  • Kyan – Rubber Forehead Alien: Cote de Pablo (Ziva David in NCIS)
  • Rex – Rubber Forehead Alien: Michael Weatherly (Tony Dinnozzo in NCIS)
  • Nate – Rubber Forehead Alien:  Sean Murray (Timothy McGee in NCIS)
  • Atticus – Voice Actor: Bryan Cranston (Walter “Heisenberg” White in Breaking Bad)
  • Vigi – Voice Actor:  Pauley Perrette (Abigail “Abby” Sciuto in NCIS)
  • The Janitor – Voice Actor: Alan Tudyk (“Wash” in Firefly)
  • Tath Seti – Voice Actor: Giancarlo Esposito (Gus Frings in Breaking Bad)

Just in case you wonder, I didn’t have the heart to assign an actor to Ben Montiel. And I did’n find it useful to assign an actor to The Briefcase.

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