Casting Ideas | James Gunn’s Superman: Legacy

James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 has been released, Gunn has finished his trilogy, and his time at Marvel is seemingly in the rearview mirror whether we like it or not. Warner Bros. and DC made a good decision to allow him to guide the direction of a shared universe of films based on DC Comics, which was something I advocated for in my review of his excellent The Suicide Squad film. Although his first DC film as a director, Superman Legacy, is still a couple of years away, now is as good a time as any to have a look at what actors would be good fits for the most iconic characters in Clark Kent’s corner of the DC Universe. So, without further ado, let’s have a look at some casting ideas for the upcoming Superman: Legacy film.

Who Should Play Lex Luthor?

According to the Justin Kroll article in Deadline, we can look forward to seeing Superman’s most well-known nemesis in the upcoming Superman: Legacy. When it comes to casting Lex Luthor, Kroll notes that Gunn has had conversations with people that he has worked with in the past, which does give you some idea of who could end up as the often-bald, Kryptonite-obsessed bad guy. When I heard that, the first person I thought about was actually Bradley Cooper, who voices Rocket Raccoon. Now, Cooper is a true A-lister, but is he still in the franchise phase of his career? Is he ready to cut off his hair to play the iconic part? I’m not sure. He would be a fantastic pick, and I’d be excited to see him in the film. Who knows, maybe Luthor isn’t even going to be bald in Gunn’s film.

Outside of Cooper, I also immediately think of other ex-Guardians of the Galaxy cast members like Lee Pace and Will Poulter. Both of them know how to play antagonists, and I think both of them would be up for meatier roles than what Gunn serviced them with in Vol. 1 and 3, respectively. Cooper, Pace, and Poulter seem like the logical former cast members from Gunn’s films to bet on. But it obviously doesn’t have to be a person that Gunn has worked with before, or, frankly, they could even gender-swap this role and give it to someone like Karen Gillan. Some non-Guardians ideas that I do have revolve around people such as Alden Ehrenreich (Solo: A Star Wars Story), Justice Smith (Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves), and Jeremy Allen White (The Bear), who are both relatively fresh faces and rising stars, but they are also actors who could do with a major film role like that. And what about Aaron Taylor-Johnson? I know he is rumored to potentially be the next James Bond, but even if that ends up happening, he can still be a villain here. Taylor-Johnson is a splendid actor, who definitely isn’t unfamiliar with comic book adaptations (and who is an outright phenomenal actor, at his best). For what it’s worth, they could still go with a veteran actor like Bryan Cranston, if the filmmaker doesn’t care about making Clark and Lex relatively close in age.

But Kroll’s Deadline article isn’t the only article from a major publication to speculate on the casting. Borys Kit and Mia Galuppo’s THR article notes that Nicholas Hoult, who Kroll lists as one of the actors considered for Superman, is actually the only person that they are considering for Lex Luthor. I’ll have more to say about the possibility of seeing Hoult as Kent later in the article, but I will say, if the THR article is to be believed, Hoult could make an outstanding Luthor. Hoult has the right kind of range as an actor to both be a hopeful protagonist and an intense and driven antagonist and, as you may know, he’s also not afraid of being bald on-screen. This could really work. But it is strange that Deadline and THR aren’t exactly hearing the same thing when it comes to Nicholas Hoult.

Who Should Play Lois Lane?

Kroll’s article was quick to mention a relatively long list of names of actors who could be in the running to play Lois Lane, the fierce reporter who steals Clark Kent’s heart. Kroll notes that his sources suggest that Emma Mackey, Rachel Brosnahan, Phoebe Dynevor, and Samara Weaving have all tested for the role. I think all of those four actresses are interesting choices that make sense. Dynevor (Bridgerton) and Mackey (Sex Education) are both in their late twenties, and they could use this as a boost in their career, as it would be their ‘biggest film’ yet.

Rachel Brosnahan is definitely the most famous of this bunch, as her time on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has earned her an Emmy Award, as well as SAG, Critics’ Choice, and Golden Globes awards. I can totally picture her in the role, but is she maybe a little bit too famous for the part? Is there even such a thing? Samara Weaving feels like a really fun choice for the role. Weaving recently appeared briefly in Scream VI, and she was a fantastic lead in Radio Silence’s Ready Or Not, within which Weaving showed a couple of different sides of herself as a performer. Weaving is probably the choice that I gravitate the most towards based only on Kroll’s list (I’m not sure I would’ve come up with that myself, and now that I’ve had that thought put into my mind, I think it’s brilliant), but I think they could all do a good job.

I’d like to add three suggestions, and those are Victoria Pedretti, Margaret Qualley, and Daisy Edgar-Jones. Pedretti still has yet to have a major role in a motion picture, but she has gained a strong following for her television roles in You, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and The Haunting of Hill House. I think Pedretti is a real talent, and I think it would be cool to see her get this kind of major motion picture push. Now, Pedretti was actually in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood with my second suggestion, Margaret Qualley. An Emmy-nominated actress, Qualley has gained recognition as a strong actress, and she is thus no longer just known for being Andie MacDowell’s daughter. A definite rising star, I can see this kind of role catapulting her further into the film studio stratosphere. Finally, I want to highlight Daisy Edgar-Jones, of Normal People and Under the Banner of Heaven fame. Those two shows utilized her excellently, and if you are still relatively unfamiliar with her work, I would highlight those. She also starred in last year’s films Fresh and Where the Crawdads Sing, but while she does solid work in both films, only the former film is one I’d recommend.

Who Should Play Superman?

When James Gunn announced that he was set to write Superman: Legacy, he noted that it was focused on an ‘earlier part of Superman’s life’ than the part that Henry Cavill’s version would have to focus on if he had been allowed to keep playing Kal-El. That was not to be, instead, we’re probably relatively close to finding out who will play a somewhat younger Clark Kent. In Kroll’s article, the reporter notes that Nicholas Hoult (The Menu), David Corenswet (Hollywood), Jacob Elordi (Euphoria), and Andrew Richardson have all submitted audition tapes to play the role. It would be a lie to say that I am familiar with Andrew Richardson’s work. I’m not. I also can’t say that I have seen too much of Corenswet’s work (but I actually think he has a petty good look for the part — he is giving me Christopher Reeve meets Henry Cavill vibes). I’ve seen maybe two episodes of Ian Brennan and Ryan Murphy’s Hollywood. What I will say is that it’s exciting that audition tapes from fresh faces like Corenswet and Richardson are allegedly being considered. It would be cool to see a relative unknown take on such a role.

I am much, much more familiar with Elordi and Hoult, and I think those are some really understandable choices for the role if Gunn was to go with them. The alleged frontrunner to play Lex Luthor, Nicholas Hoult, who might be in consideration for both the protagonist and antagonist parts for this film, is a fantastic BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Emmy-nominated actor who never disappoints. He had his breakthrough with first About a Boy and then Skins, and now his face is extremely well known at this point. He has genuine superhero movie experience (and good experience, at that), and though he is perhaps best known for his supporting work (The Favourite; Mad Max: Fury Road), Hoult is also a fantastic leading man. I think it would be a great ‘get’ to have him as Clark Kent, especially because I feel pretty confident he could pull off distinguishing between his performance as Clark Kent and his performance as Superman in a convincing way. But, frankly, I think he’d also be an incredible Lex Luthor. If Gunn gets Hoult, DC fans should see it as a huge win regardless of who he actually plays.

Jacob Elordi is not quite that far ahead in his career, though. Elordi definitely — without question — would look the part of Superman, but I’m not sure about his fit as Clark Kent. Can he pull off the Christopher Reeve-esque on-screen posture transformation in a single scene in a way that makes you believe he can deceive his coworkers? I think he is talented enough to be able to do that, but I haven’t seen enough range from him personally to know for sure. Honestly, I think the Aussie would be an obvious choice for the role if they want to go for a young and hip choice for Superman. It would make sense. But, frankly, it’s going to take some getting used to, because he is mostly known for playing the quite hateable role of Nate Jacobs in Euphoria. It’ll be really interesting to see him play Elvis in Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla.

Speaking of Elvis, I know a lot of people have been gung-ho for Austin Butler to play the role. He, too, is talented, but I think a lot of people are really interested in seeing if he can put away his Elvis accent and continue to bring out excellent, convincing performances (and the upcoming Dune: Part Two should answer that question). Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who I listed among the Lex Luthor suggestions, could also be a terrific Kent. I also want to think a little bit outside the box. Superman doesn’t have to be white. For a while, there was talk of a Michael B. Jordan-led Superman film, but I presume that project may have been shelved due to Gunn’s new position at DC. I wonder if they would consider someone like Henry Golding, who I’d love to see in a major role. Though he may have the same ‘can he be both Superman and Clark Kent’ problem that others may have.

– Article by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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