I have to confess up front that I was never a huge Captain Marvel fan. Not sure why. I mean, I enjoyed the old Saturday morning live-action show as a kid in the 1970s. But, I never got into the character in the comics. Of course, those were my “Marvel Zombie” days. But, of the few DC books I got back then, I don’t think any of them had the “Big Red Cheese” in them. It really wasn’t until the late 1980s and 1990s that I took more notice of him, particularly as he started cropping up in other DC books. Eventually, a new “Shazam!” series came out, and I collected that for awhile. But, as much as I like(d) the guy and his gee-whiz, boyish innocence and straight-as-an-arrow integrity, Captain Marvel just never sparked my interest like some of the other big names.
So, what prompted me to fan-cast for CM and “family” now? Why, naturally, it was all the recent talk about a possible — and now confirmed — Captain Marvel / Shazam live-action movie. Plus, it seems that Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson has officially been cast as our musclebound hero. A friend of mine on Facebook (with whom I have traded many fan-casting ideas for various characters) asked me what I thought of that announcement. We agreed that Johnson was far from ideal, but we could “live with” the decision. Johnson has his physique and his playful sense of humor going for him, which both lend themselves well to the character. But, Captain Marvel should be much more — let’s be honest, here — white. (Guy Gardner was always calling him “Captain Whitebread”, for cryin’ out loud! Of course, that was a reference not only to CM’s apparent ethnicity but to his being “boring” and old-fashioned.)
In addition to being rather Caucasian, what else should the actor portraying Captain Marvel be? Well, if possible, it would help if he had a somewhat boyish — or, at least, youthful — face. Captain Marvel has a tall, muscular build like Superman, so while the muscles can be packed on later, any candidate should be over 6 feet tall but probably under 6’6″. Ideally, I would like him to be in his 30s; though, as long as he has that boyish/youthful appearance I mentioned, he could actually be a few years older, I suppose.
As for Captain Marvel’s character, I think he should be written in the “classic” way: good-hearted, well-adjusted young orphan, Billy Batson should be the “alter ego”, and this personality should be retained for Captain Marvel. In other words, not Freddie Freeman (whom I’ll talk about next week) and none of this hard-edged, angst-ridden version that I hear the current writers are doing. Blech! There is plenty of that out there, but part of Marvel’s charm is his soft-edged, non-angstiness! (I made that word up, y’know.) Not that he doesn’t get mad or frustrated or have self-doubts; but those are temporary conditions for him, not his constant mood.
Alright, enough about that. Let’s see who we’ve got….
First, we have Owain Yeoman (6’3or4″,b.1978), perhaps best known for his many years on “The Mentalist” TV series. He was also the original “Cromartie” in “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”, and currently he has appeared in “Extant”. When I first saw a picture of him a year or so ago, I almost immediately thought he would make a good Captain Marvel. He would have to pack on several pounds of muscle, but he is already in the right age and height ranges. And just look at that face!
More recently, I became aware of Gabriel Olds (6’1″,b.1972). He is in his early 40s, but he has that youthful appearance. You might remember him as Agent Taub on “Heroes”, but he has also been in episodes of “The Mentalist” (where I saw him), “Criminal Minds”, and “Charmed”. Bulk him up, and Olds could make a fine Captain Marvel.
Finally, I have to include Brandon Molale (6’4″,b.1971), who has been campaigning to play “Earth’s Mightiest Mortal” for awhile. (Supposedly, he was being considered for it several years ago.) Others have fan-cast him for the role, too, and the more I think of it (and hear his enthusiasm for it), the more I think he could be a great choice. Approaching mid-40s but still looking good and fairly fit, with a few more pounds of muscle added to that hunky frame, Molale would look great!
Now, for Billy, I think we have a bit more latitude. The character is about 12 or 13 when he is first chosen by the wizard, Shazam, and given the powers and responsibilities of being Captain Marvel. So, the actor should be about this age, though a youthful 14 or 15 year old might be able to play him and remain believable. Dark brown or black hair, slim, roughly 5′ tall or a little over. (DC wiki puts him at 5’4″, but he always looked smaller to me.) And, yes, he should be caucasian, too. I don’t have any “perfect” candidates, but here are three to throw into the mix:
Jared Gilmore (4’11”,b.2000) of “Once Upon a Time” (and “Mad Men” before that) could be a great choice. He’s the right height and build and seems like a sweet kid. Chandler Riggs (5’4″,b.1999) of “The Walking Dead” is a bit older, but he might be a decent choice, too. Some have suggested Zach Callison (5’7.5″,b.1997), who has been voicing Billy Batson for animated shows/movies for a few years. He looks the part, but he’s too old and tall, now, to play him in a live-action production. My third choice is Griffin Gluck (5′,b.2000) from “Back in the Game” and “Private Practice”, who I only just “discovered”. I think he has a great look for Billy Batson, too.
Do you have any ideas who should/could play Captain Marvel or Billy Batson?
UPDATE 9/3/2014: Dwayne Johnson has now confirmed that he will be playing Black Adam, rather than Captain Marvel. Whew! Now, maybe “my guys” have chance….
* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2014.