After writing the Green Lantern Corps article, I started to thinking down some old fan boy type lines. The basic premise is that if I could cast a Justice League movie and somehow cast all the actors in their prime “Who would I pick?” Now, this is of course completely impossible as some of these actors are not contemporary and in completely different time eras. Free of those restrictions, the question that I am trying to answer is “Who would have been the perfect actor/actress regardless of time frames to play these Super Hero roles?” Naturally, as a comic book and movie fan going back decades, some of these have been in my mind for quite some time.
Superman – Though he never (sadly) played the role, Gregory Peck has always stood out to me as “the actor who would have been perfect as Clark Kent / Superman.” I base most of this on To Kill A Mockingbird. Go back and watch his portrayal of Atticus Finch. If you watch the courtroom scenes, you are seeing the very best of what anyone would picture being Clark Kent. If you watch the scene where Finch puts down the mad dog, you see how the transformation could have seamlessly been made from Kent to Ka-el / Superman.
Batman – For the role of Bruce Wayne / Batman, I have always felt that the dramatic interpretation of John Forsythe would have been most fitting. Forsythe was born in New Jersey. It is almost a given that Gotham is actually New York City. Could Forsythe have pulled off Bruce Wayne? Absolutely. A young Blake Carrington was practically Bruce Wayne without the predilection for dressing up like an oversized crime fighting rodent. Now, beyond rubber muscles, what is the most important aspect of filling out a Batsuit? Incredibly, the most important feature for filling out a Batsuit is not only ruggedly good looks (which Forsythe had in spades) but the square exposed jaw. Go back and actually look at John Forsythe’s Jaw as a young man especially. There is no square jaw more fitted for a Batsuit in creation. Yes, I am resting my case on John Forsythe’s jaw.
Green Lantern – In the previous article, I listed Thomas Gibson as my choice for Green Lantern / Hal Jordan. This would be a purely the ‘modern pick.’ If I was going to go with an ‘all time’ pick, I would have to make a different selection. Having the choice of any actor in his prime, I would definitely cast Dirk Benedict as Hal Jordan. In Benedict’s late 1970’s early 1980’s heyday, Benedict played two characters that simply screamed a transformation between the arrogant Hal Jordan to the space faring Green Lantern. I can complete my thesis on the this by having you watch The A-Team for Templeton “Faceman” Peck to see Hal Jordan. You can then turn to re-runs of Battlestar Galactica with Lt. Starbuck to see Benedict as Green Lantern. Had Benedict starred a Green Lantern during this time frame, Ryan Reynolds would have had a much higher mountain to climb.
Wonder Woman – Some part of me should go with a more original pick than the one I am going to give you. I do not have one. Lynda Carter is Wonder Woman. She was Wonder Woman in the television series. She would be Wonder Woman in my time displaced movie. Any one who played Wonder Woman now would simply be doing a pale imitation of Lynda Carter. And if you can have any pale imitation, why would you not want the original?
Aquaman – With all deference to Patrick Duffy and the Man From Atlantis, I am going to go a slightly different direction with this pick. To me, Arthur Curry has always been best symbolized by a young and striking Rutger Hauer. The Dutch actor as a young man had not only heroic (if slightly sinister) quality, but also a certain exotic sense that would make him perfect as a super powered visitor from the deep. Hauer also shares with Aquaman a certain (possibly or not) implied ’Aryan quality.’ I am even fairly sure that Hauer would not make the orange/green color scheme loo completely ridiculous.
Martian Manhunter – There are three basic requirements here. The requirements can only be really met by one man in history. The first requirement is that you have to be completely convincing as a Noble Alien Savage. In short, you not only have to be completely green, you have to convey that you are a noble creature as well as the last of your race. The second requirement is that you have to be a quasi-mystical gumshoe who is down on his luck. The alien solving crime aspect of it all has to again be completely believable. Now, here is the final catch. You have to play exotic alien nobleman and put down upon gumshoe with mystical qualities ….completely bald. Only one man in history could have ever done it all perfectly.. That man was Yul Brynner. There was nothing so ridiculous that Yul Brynner could not convince you that was going on completely seriously. Was there ever a more exotic actor in the history of time? No. Noble savage? I present The King And I. An alien with a secret? Look no farther than Westworld. For good measure, also go back and watch The Ultimate Warrior as well as The Magnificent Seven. Paint him green. Put Brynner in a cape. Then take Yul Brynner and put him against a costumed Kryptonian. Byynner would have convinced you you were watching a documentary.
The Flash (Barry Allen) – I have gone on record as saying that Wally West was not my version of the Flash. West was simply not a compelling figure to me. Barry Allen was one of my favorite comic book characters of all time. Barry Allen was a Crime Scene Investigator. Allen came from a family of cops and was often made fun of for tinkering in a lab. Allen was actually put down for not doing ‘real field work.’ All the same time, Allen was a family man who happened to be the superheroic Flash. This means that to play Barry Allen correctly, you have to have an actual actor in the role. The actor has to make you believe that he is smart enough to be a Crime Scene Investigator, biting his tongue at family dinners, and a hero. I submit to you that the most logical choice for this role would have been Robert Redford. Redford could convey emotion as well as holding a secret in his heyday like none other. He could have conveyed all the emotion in the world in the classic Flash costume merely with his eyes.
Feel free to discuss, but that is my personal Justice League of America. Had they all been in their prime somehow, this would have been a movie that The Avengers would have been judged by. I am supposing looking at the choices, the movie could have been conceivably made in the mid to early seventies. 1971 would have put Gregory Peck at 55, Dirk Benedict at 26, Lynda Carter at 20, John Forsythe at 53, Yul Brynner at 51, Robert Redford at 35, and Rutger Hauer at 27. I think written properly (even with Batman and Superman in their 50s) it could have still been done convincingly. At any rate, cameos by a 24 year old Arnold Schwarzenegger (Hawkman), a 48 year old Cliff Robertson (Ray Palmer – Atom) , and a 41 year old Sean Connery (Oliver Queen – Green Arrow) may have made the perfect Justice League movie for all time. Just fun speculation, but every fan boy ever has done it.