The internet continues to buzz from the announcement that Marvel and Netflix are joining forces to produce four original shows for the streaming network. The press release from Marvel spelled out the four characters each show will feature.
Led by a series focused on “Daredevil,” followed by “Jessica Jones,” “Iron Fist” and “Luke Cage,” the epic will unfold over multiple years of original programming, taking Netflix members deep into the gritty world of heroes and villains of Hell’s Kitchen, New York. Netflix has committed to a minimum of four, thirteen episodes series and a culminating Marvel’s “The Defenders” mini-series event that reimagines a dream team of self-sacrificing, heroic characters.
These are four very different characters. The one most people will have heard about before is”Daredevil”, who already got the movie treatment with Ben Affleck, but the rest are unknowns to the culture at large. With the shows still way off in the future, now is the best time to consider what actors should be the front runners for these parts. We’ve seen from Robert Downey Jr.’s “Iron Man” how important the casting of actors can be in super hero roles. Let’s take each of these leads one at a time, and see what names rise to the top of the list.
Here’s the description of “Daredevil” from his Wikipedia page.
Living in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York City, Matt Murdock is blinded by a radioactive substance that falls from an oncoming vehicle. While he no longer can see, the radioactive exposure heightens his remaining senses beyond normal human ability. His father, a boxer named Jack Murdock, supports him as he grows up, though Jack is later killed by gangsters after refusing to throw a fight. After donning a yellow and black, and later a dark red costume, Matt seeks out revenge against his father’s killers as the superhero Daredevil, fighting against his many enemies including Bullseye and the Kingpin. Daredevil’s nickname is “the Man Without Fear”.
The big key to Murdock/Daredevil part is his mild mannered blind lawyer side by day, and the no fear “Daredevil” at night. The actor chosen for this role has to be able to project both sides of that character in that Clark Kent/Superman sort of way. For that reason I think the perfect choice for the role could be Patrick J. Adams, who plays “Mike Ross” on USA’s legal drama “Suits”.
Adams has already proved he can play a guy with secrets on “Suits”, and he possesses a regular man quality that the role needs. It might be cool when the CW’s “Arrow” looks like an underwear model, but the dark world of “Daredevil” needs a more grounded casting choice. Adams just needs to bulk up a little, and I think we are good to go. He could even use some of his “Suits” wardrobe for the legal cases Murdock handles.
Here’s the description of “Jessica Jones” from the Marvel database.
Jessica Jones was a normal woman until a car accident doused her with chemicals and put her into a coma…Jessica emerged from her coma around the time the Fantastic Four first encountered Galactus, an event in which tremendous energies were given off. After her recovery, Jessica discovered that she had developed superhuman powers. She attempted to become a super heroine…
This is a much broader pool for the casting because the role is still undefined by the viewing public. The first name that popped up when looking at comic descriptions of “Jessica Jones” was Rashida Jones. Jones is leaving her role on “Parks and Recreation” after this season, so the role of Jones could work out for her.
She’s just so darn likeable. She’s also got that looks that fanboys and superheros alike would fight over. Other names that could work in the role of “Jessica Jones” are Mary Lynn Rajskub, best known as Chloe on “24”, or how about dark horse candidate in the form of comedienne Sarah Silverman. With only one of the four new characters being women it’s important the character is cast with an actress who can project strength.
Here’s the description of “Iron Fist” from Marvel.
Iron Fist is an exceptional athlete, acrobat, and hand-to-hand combatant. He is a master of all of K’un-Lun’s martial arts and many of Earth’s, trained in the use of virtually all martial arts weapons. He has near-complete control over his nervous system, enabling him to deaden himself to pain.
Even though “Iron Fist” is labled as a master of the martial arts, he’s described in the comics as having blonde hair and blue eyes. There isn’t a rule that only Asian’s can be masters of kung fu, but Marvel would be making a mistake in not using this character to expand the superhero universe. Don’t we have enough blond haired super heroes already? With that in mind I wouldn’t be surprised if an actor like Harry Shum Jr. from “Glee” got serious consideration for the part.
Shum brings a young fan base from “Glee” to the shows, and has proved on that show he has all the physical attributes needed to tell the story of the “Iron Fist”. Now if Marvel decides to stay completely loyal to the comic, and cast a white guy as an Asian martial arts master then maybe an actor like Ian Somerhalder or dark horse Jason Ritter could work.
Here’s the description of “Luke Cage” from Wikipedia
A streetwise youth, the man called “Lucas” was sent to prison for a crime he did not commit. In exchange for parole, Lucas clandestinely underwent an experimental procedure, originally intended to generate immunity to all illness; instead, it inadvertently granted him steel-hard skin and heavier, enhanced muscle. After escaping Seagate Prison, he forged the identity of “Luke Cage” becoming a “hero for hire,” a sort of super-enhanced private detective—although Cage commonly refused money, or simply received none, for cases gone awry (a fair portion, for the unlucky Cage). Later, he formed a business partnership with the martial arts hero known as Iron Fist in the series Power Man & Iron Fist.
Cage was one of the first African American superheroes to star in an eponymous comic book series. (The first African Americancharacter to do so was Dell Comics’ western hero Lobo.)
This might be too on the nose, but Shemar Moore seems primed for this role. Moore already plays a similar role of team bad ass as “Morgan” on CBS’ “Criminal Minds”.
This might be the hardest role to cast because of the chemistry that “Luke Cage” has with the rest of the group, including his romance with “Jessica Jones”. Moore handled the romance of soap operas, so he could handle comic book love. One other actor that could be great is Michael B. Jordan, but he might have become to hot of a property to leave feature films for Netflix.
While the final casting decisions are far from over, the excitement over these shows is just beginning. Netflix is starting to be considered on par with other cable stations thanks to shows like “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black”. With this Marvel deal, Netflix now pushes its way into the top tier of programming providers with established networks like HBO, AMC, and Showtime. All that’s left to do now is wait and see what actors get their opportunity to create a memorable Marvel super hero.