Saturday, July 16, 2016

Casting the He-Man movie: Teela

I'm a huge fan of He-Man.  I should've done this a long time ago, but, with the Masters of the Universe movie progressing (seemingly), I figured it was time to do my own dream casting.

I've seen every episode of He-Man (even the dull ones that didn't include Skeletor) and read the mini-comics and the books.  I'm pretty much a fanatic.  At one point I owned all of the toys.  I still own a dozen or so action figures along with Battle Cat (and a lunch box) because I couldn't bring myself to get rid of them.

Given how big of a fan I am, I really want the new MOTU movie to be incredible.  I'm hoping for Transformers-level success.  We'll take it one movie at a time though, right?  That is, assuming there is even a sequel.

In order for there to be a sequel, we need a good cast.  A good script, of course, would be helpful, too.

Let's start with the casting of Teela.

To begin with: what version of Teela should end up on the big screen?  The 1980's Filmation version?  The 2002 Mike Young Productions version?  Or maybe something similar to the impressive artwork that is showcased above?  I'd go with a mixture -- but leaning more towards the 1980's Filmation version.  I felt that Teela should be a woman rather than a teenager.  She's Captain of the Guard.  You don't get there by being a 17-year-old.  Of course, the outfit is a bit dated, so something along the lines of that artwork above would be preferred.

So, onto the casting options!

In a previous blog, I'd mentioned that Amy Adams looks similar to Teela.  She might not be a bad candidate, to be honest.

However, with her pretty much tied up in the D.C. Cinematic Universe for the next little while as Lois Lane, I don't know if her taking on Teela as well would be the best idea.

She's a big name, so that's a good thing.  At this point she's a recognizable name and could draw some people into the theater to see the movie.

In remembering that the success of this movie is crucial to a sequel, I must admit that getting a few big names to play some parts in the movie is important.  Of course, big names means big money, so kind of a catch 22 there.

The other negative thing about Amy Adams is that I'm not sure she'd be up for what would be a physically demanding role.  They could use a stunt double, of course, but these days it's nice to have actors who can do the majority of the stunts themselves.  It doesn't limit the filming as much with actors who can do their own stunt work.  So, at the end of the day, I'm saying 'pass' on Amy Adams.

Natalie Portman is another possibility.  She brings to the table a lot of the same things that Amy Adams does.  She has name recognition.  She's a good actress.  She's not opposed to being in big, franchise movies (Star Wars, Thor).

However, rumors are that she's ready to be done with the Marvel movies.  That's apparently why she wasn't in any of The Avengers movies so far. Then again, maybe those are just rumors.  Let's say the He-Man movie is a success, though.  The studios would want to make sequels.  Would Portman commit to those sequels?

The other bad thing about Portman is that she's an actress -- not an action star.  She's in shape, sure, but would she be able to handle combat scenes and fight sequences?  I'm not sure.

Natalie Portman wouldn't be a bad choice, but, overall, I'd pass.

Another actress who could potentially play Teela is the redhead (at one time anyway) Emma Stone.  She's another good actress who is open to playing roles in superhero movies.  She was Gwen Stacy in two Spider-Man movies, after all.  Her role in that movie was largely a non-physical one, though.

I have faith that Emma Stone could handle the physicality that would come with playing Teela though.

Stone is younger than both Portman and Adams, so if there were more movies to be made, she'd hopefully agree to being in them.  You've got to look at the future when making casting decisions.

In terms of how she'd handle the role, I think she'd bring some sarcasm and humor to the role --- in addition to the physicality.  Teela did have some one-liners and a bit of a temper when having to deal with Prince Adam's laziness.  Emma could definitely bring those characteristics to the big screen.  So, I say, sure.  I'd be happy with Emma Stone getting the role.

Speaking of young actresses.  How about Jennifer Lawrence?  She's award-winning.  She'll draw people to the theatre.  She can handle physical roles.  She bring emotion to roles that may be looked at as simple.

What's not to like about Jennifer Lawrence playing Teela?  Given that she's already been the defiant, butt-kicking Katniss Everdeen and the misguided mutant villain that is Mystique, I almost feel like she's too much of an obvious choice.

I almost want someone lesser-known or without as many big roles on her resume to play Teela.  At certain points, after seeing actors take on several superhero roles, it becomes a little too repetitive.  It's a nitpicky complaint, but I do nitpick at times.  I'll own up to that.

The major positive, of course, is that she's a big name right now, so her being in the movie means people showing up in the theaters to watch it --- leaving MOTU fans with a greater chance of one movie becoming a trilogy or a movie franchise.

Overall, she offers more positives than negatives, so if Lawrence were cast, the MOTU moviemakers would get a thumbs up from me.

Next up, Cobie Smulders.  If I'm looking for someone with less experience playing superheroes, she'd be a good candidate.

She's got some superhero experience, starring as Nick Fury's right-hand woman in The Avengers and The Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Though she wasn't doing hand-to-hand combat in either movie, she fired off some weapons and showed that she could hang in the big leagues in terms of big budget movies.

Outside of her role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Smulders is best known for her time on the small screen in 9 season's of How I Met Your Mother.  The entire cast of that show can handle wit, sarcasm and comedy, so no issues with her delivering the assertiveness that Teela has, yet having the ability to still bring humor to the character too.

At 34-years-old, Smulders is young enough to be Teela.  She doesn't have any commitments (that I know of anyway) that would prevent her from signing a multi-picture deal.  That's two more positives there.  That settles it.  It's a 'Yes' to Cobie Smulders.

Another woman who has spent several years on the small screen is Sarah Drew, who you may recognize from ABC powerhouse Grey's Anatomy.  The show, of course, is a great mix of drama and comedy --- mixing the two seamlessly.  Drew has displayed that same great mix in her acting ability as well.

Like Natalie Portman and Amy Adams, the 35-year-old Sarah Drew may struggle a bit with the physicality of the role, so that's a downside to her.  Then again, she could surprise me.  Sometimes it's the people you'd least expect to excel in a role who end up actually doing just that.

Another downside is that she's not a very well known actress.  Grey's Anatomy fans would recognize her, I'm sure, but she's not about to bring in legions of fans just by being in the movie.

I highly doubt Drew would get the role of Teela, but I wouldn't complain if she did.

Let's see who is next on my list (I actually do have a list written down in a notebook --- I'm old fashioned like that).  Ah yes, Mrs. Justin Timberlake aka Jessica Biel.  I've got to be honest right off the bat: this wasn't my idea.  I saw her mentioned in a He-Man 'dream casting' article that's published somewhere on the Internet.

In the spirit of honesty, I'll be equally honest about her acting ability: it's not that good.  I remember several cringe-worthy moments during her time on 7th Heaven.  Granted, maybe it was the wholesome family writing that hindered her.

She did much better in I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry and The Illusionist.  She handled the fast-paced action well enough, though, in the largely awful Total Recall remake.  She's another 34-year-old on this list.

She's got some name recognition.  Certainly, she couldn't compete with Adams or Portman or Lawrence in that category (or maybe even Stone), but she's got an acting career that spans 20 years at this point, so she's not an unknown.  I feel like Jessica Biel would probably be more one-dimensional in her performance than some of the other women on this list, so I'll pass at this point.

Another woman who I saw someone else mention was Olivia Wilde.  Hey!  She's 32 -- not 34.  Got some variety, finally.  I'm not completely familiar with Wilde.  I've seen Tron: Legacy, The Change Up and In Time and I didn't walk away thinking 'Gosh.  She's awful.'  So, there's that.

I've talked a lot about action and physicality in this blog.  I think it's a given that being somewhat athletic would be needed to be Teela.  Wilde was in Tron, so she's got a little bit of experience there.

She's more of an actress than an action star, but she's someone who I think would put in the dedication to make the fight scenes come together.  With some training, I think she'd pull off the physicality just fine.  Yeah, I'd go with Olivia.  Whoever it was who thought her up as a choice --- kudos to you!

She's not my number one choice though ...

My number one pick -- in an ideal world --- would be Scarlett Johansson.  It's probably not a realistic choice given that she's already pretty much dedicated to Marvel for how many more years?  However, if Marvel won't pull the trigger and give her a solo Black Widow movie, why not join MOTU and be Teela -- another strong, independent female character?

Just like Lawrence, the downside with Johansson is that she's so widely known as Black Widow that it may be hard for fans to watch her playing another butt-kicking redhead and NOT see her as Black Widow.

Then again, she was the lead in Lucy and I don't think people saw her as Widow at that point.  Then again, she had blonde hair there and not red.  Sometimes it's those little similarities that make it hard for people to see different characters in actors.

Another downside, besides her Marvel schedule and her being synonymous with Black Widow is that she's got a hefty price tag, especially after being named the highest-grossing female movie star of all time this year.  Granted there's a big asterisk there.  Having roles in the massively successful Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Captain America: Winter Soldier, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Captain America: Civil War have A LOT to do with that success.  That being said, Black Widow has been a favorite in those movies, so it's not like she hasn't helped Marvel become the movie juggernaut that it is.

For all of those reasons, I'm sure she probably wouldn't accept the role, if she were even offered.  Those in charge of casting the MOTU movie may not even offer the role to her, thinking she wouldn't do it anyway.

However, I think she'd be great in the role.  She can obviously take on the physicality.  She's got the acting chops to make the role bigger than just a sidekick in an action movie that's a throwback to the 80's.  She'd also bring fans into the theater, which would make me happy as a massive He-Man fan.

Without a doubt, Scarlett Johansson is my top choice to be Teela.  No question.  Everyone else is waaaaay down the list.

If not her, I'd like to see Emma Stone, Olivia Wilde, Cobie Smulders or Jennifer Lawrence in the role.

Tesla, of course, is just one character in the very large He-Man universe. We'll cover another one tomorrow.

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