Guess what time it is…? Yep, fan-cast time. While I already had some ideas about this character, I got thinking about him some more a few weeks ago while working on the “7 DC Properties that Should Be on TV” posts. I guess that’s to be expected, since I was proposing a “Martian Manhunter” TV series, which requires finding someone to play the guy. Let’s get started, shall we?
(The) Martian Manhunter
As anyone familiar with the pre-52 version of the character knows, Martian Manhunter is J’onn J’onzz, “last” survivor of the inhabitants of Mars. I put “last” in quotes because, as with Superman, who was also thought to be sole survivor of his native planet’s race, he turned out to not be the last. A handful of Green Martians have popped up over the years. One of those is J’onzz’s evil twin brother and arch-nemesis, Ma’alefa’ak (aka Malefic), who also survived the extinction-level event known as “H’ronmeer’s Curse” that he himself caused. There were also pre-Crisis Yellow Martians on Earth-One, and a race of nasty, war-like White Martians were revealed many years later in our preferred “New Earth” continuity.
J’onn J’onzz made his home on Earth, adopting the identity of policeman “John Jones”, and was one of the founding members of the Justice League of America. (For awhile, he actually maintained several human identities, which he used for various activities around the world.) His many superhuman powers have come in quite handy when dealing with human, superhuman, and extraterrestrial threats over the years, whether as a cop or as a costumed crimefighter in the JLA and a few other groups. On the other hand, his weaknesses include 1) a genetic aversion to and extreme fear of fire, 2) a nearly debilitating anguish & sorrow over the loss of his wife and child (not to mention the rest of Green Martian civilization), and 3) an unusual obsession with the Oreo-like “Chocos” cookies. The Martian Manhunter became the “heart and soul” of the Justice League, beloved and respected in the metahuman community of Earth (and elsewhere), and instrumental in many victories. Sadly, he was tortured and murdered by Libra and the new Secret Society of Super-Villains during the “Final Crisis” events. Fortunately, he was also one of many who were resurrected during the events of “Blackest Night”.
Despite having the typically “somewhat cold and stoic demeanor” of those of his race, J’onzz is extraordinarily kind, noble, wise, and self-sacrificial. He has also demonstrated incredible willpower, as well as a subtle sense of humor. J’onzz is several decades old but still appears to be in the prime of life. As a powerful shapeshifter and telepath, he can look and act like just about anyone. When working as Martian Manhunter, though, he usually either puts on his “public” form (i.e., that which he would wear in public on Mars) or a combination of that and a more human appearance, along with typical Martian garb. That form is tall and powerfully-built, with DC’s wiki listing it at 6’7″ and about 300 lbs. But, his human identity doesn’t have to be big, because his height & build are adjustable with his malleable body. In that case, I suppose they could get an actor that is not nearly so tall or muscular and just CGI a larger body for costumed action scenes. However, I would still prefer to see someone over 6′ tall and with a fairly muscular build play the role, regardless of how much CGI is used in the action scenes. Also, at least when “in costume”, I think he should speak with a deep voice, possibly with an accent of some sort. So, I would try to cast a Black or white man, roughly 6’2″ to 6’7″ with a fairly muscular build, in his mid-30s to mid-40s. It would help if he looked good bald, too.
I considered Dennis Haysbert (6’4.5″,b.1954), Kevin Grevioux (6’3″,b.1962), Christopher Judge (6’2″,b.1964), but they are all too old. Raw Leiba (6’3″) has the build, but I’m not sure he has the acting skills. Vin Diesel (5’11.75″,b.1967) might be good, but he’s too short, a little too old, and not quite right for it. Kevin McKidd (6′,b.1973) is too short, and Armie Hammer (6’5″,b.1986) is too young and boyish looking. I looked at a few others in the 6’4″-6’5″ range, but they were either too old, didn’t look right for it, or I was afraid they didn’t have the acting chops for this complicated character. A few years ago, actor/stuntman Jeff Chase (6’7″,b.1968) might have been a good choice, and they wouldn’t have needed any CGI. But, he is too old now and a bit round in the middle. (Not sure about his acting range, either.) LaMonica Garrett (6’2″,b.1975), who I suggested for Det. Crispus Allen a few weeks back, might be good; but, I had to eliminate him to get to… my top four candidates:
David Ramsey (6’2or3″,b.1971) is the shortest of the four, but he may actually be my favorite. I think he was the first person I came up with when I started thinking about casting the character awhile ago. The biggest problem with this choice, of course, is that he currently has a regular gig on the ever-popular “Arrow” series. He is also known for recurring roles in “Dexter” and “Blue Bloods”, as well as appearances in shows like “Space: Above & Beyond”, “NCIS”, “CSI: Miami”, “Charmed”, “Journeyman”, and “Ghost Whisperer”. Plus, we already know he has the physique and martial arts skills to play the action hero. If they decide to kill off John Diggle anytime soon, they should grab Ramsey to play J’onn J’onzz. I think he has the look and versatile talent to do right by the Martian Manhunter!
Known to “Chuck” fans as Devon ‘Captain Awesome’ Woodcomb, Ryan McPartlin (6’4″,b.1975) has also appeared in Super Capers, “CSI: Miami”, “Daybreak”, “Sequestered”, and even plays a detective in the comedy “Mystery Girls”. He also voiced the titular hero in Lego: The Adventures of Clutch Powers. Of course, he has the height & build needed to play J’onn J’onzz, too. I’d like to see McPartlin in a regular, dramatic, possibly action-oriented role, and the lead in a “Martian Manhunter” series might be just the opportunity he needs to shine.
Nowadays, fans can see Henry Simmons (6’4″,b.1970) playing ‘Mack’ on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, and it looks like he’ll be there at least through season 3. But, if they write off the character after that, maybe Simmons could be persuaded to switch to DC…. Simmons has been in Spartacus (TV movie), “NYPD Blue” (in which he played a detective for several seasons), The Insurgents, “Shark”, “Ravenswood”, and the recent Synapse. He also voiced a character for Superman vs. The Elite. He has the necessary physical traits and acting experience to make a darn good Martian Manhunter. Based on the pic I found, I’m not the only one to think so.
Both the youngest and the tallest of my candidates is former X-Man “Colossus”, Daniel Cudmore (6’6or7or8″,b.1981). In addition to three X-Men films, Cudmore has been in four The Twilight Saga films, Alone in the Dark, Merlin and the Book of Beasts (TV Movie), The Killing Machine, Rites of Passage, “Fringe”, The Baytown Outlaws, and “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn” (TV mini-series). I haven’t seen him in anything else, so I’m not sure of his acting range, but physically he certainly fills J’onzz’s shoes, and he’s used to working with CGI. He might actually be a surprisingly good Martian Manhunter.
As I have said before, with the right take on the character, Martian Manhunter could be a very good cop/superhero show. Any of the above actors might have the required balance of physique and talent — not to mention a deep voice — to do J’onn J’onzz justice.
* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2015.