Fan-Cast: Bionic Reboot, part 2: Steve Austin

Six Million Dollar Man montageSteve Austin, the “world’s first bionic man”, was (along with Captain James T. Kirk) one of my favorite TV characters and heroes while growing up. Still is. Not surprisingly, that also meant that Lee Majors was (along with William Shatner) one of my favorite actors. (Loved him in “The Fall Guy”, too.) I personally haven’t seen much of Majors — at least, not in a regular, major role — since the late, lamented “The Raven” (1992/3) and the final bionic TV movie (“Bionic Ever After?” (1994)), though he does appear occasionally on current TV series.

Majors (6′,b.1939) was 33 when the first “The Six Million Dollar Man” TV movie aired in March 1973. As I explained in a previous post, that is roughly the age I would like him to be in my proposed reboot, too. He was also attractive, athletic, with a solid build, all of which make sense for the “Steve Austin” character. Having already attained the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Air Force with experience as an astronaut, we know Steve Austin is a skilled pilot and dedicated to serving his country. He has a certain amount of drive and ambition. (Btw, if the actor chosen is somehow not believable as a Colonel, maybe due to youthful appearance, I figure he could be “demoted” to Major Lee Majors as Steve Austin - on one kneewithout it affecting the story much.)

As I recall from Martin Caidin’s book Cyborg, on which the TV series is based, Austin was somewhat arrogant and full of pride. Fortunately, they toned that down in the series, so that the character was more likable. Once he worked through the physical and psychological trauma of the accident and the subsequent acclimation to having bionic limbs (and an eye), which came with an obligation to work (at least part-time) as an O.S.I. operative, Austin became a good and reliable agent. He developed a respect for and friendship with both his boss, Oscar Goldman, and his “doctor”, Rudy Wells. I seem to remember he also had a decent sense of humor, a strong ethical code, and he could be depended on to fight for his country and bring down the bad guys.

I read something from a few years ago about Bryan Singer being set to direct a new movie version called “The Six Billion Dollar Man”, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. I cannot tell you how wrong that would be. I sincerely pray that it never gets beyond the planning stages.

So,… who do I think should be up for the part in a movie or (hopefully) new TV series?

Alex O'Loughlin on stool - jeans and brown leather jacketAlex O’Loughlin (6’0.75″,b.1976)

If you read my fan-cast post for Batman, you know that O’Loughlin was in the running for that role, too. But, I am even more in favor of him for this role. In fact, he was the first person I thought of. He has the right build, good looks, and is very fit, of course. He also plays an action-prone military officer on “Hawaii Five-O”, so I’m used to thinking of him in that context. My only reservations are a) he is already pushing my preferred age parameters and b) I don’t know if he could portray “Steve Austin” different enough from “Steve McGarrett”, while retaining the qualities I think work for both.

 

 

Tom Welling as Clark Kent on porch - tee-shirt and jacketTom Welling (6’2.75″,b.1977)

Welling pleased a lot of genre fans when he played young Clark Kent in “Smallville” for 10 seasons. (The finale was a bit disappointing, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic.) Welling has proven he can play the “regular”, decent guy who struggles with having unusual abilities and the responsibilities that come with them, makes occasional mistakes but always ends up the hero. Regarding the Steve Austin role, I think it is different enough and can be played differently enough, so that the parallels with Clark Kent would remain only surface-deep. And, of course, he also has the look and build for it.

Brandon Routh - smiling with jacket collar upBrandon Routh (6’2.5″,b.1979)

Coincidentally, the third actor I recommend for the “Steve Austin” role is another former “Clark Kent”. Routh was, of course, the Man of Steel in the somewhat disappointing Superman Returns (2006) movie. He has since popped up here and there in various TV series, including 10 episodes of “Chuck” as Agent Daniel Shaw. Routh is tall, dark, & handsome, and I believe could do a great job as the Bionic Man. He is athletic, very likable, and, as the youngest of these three, he is the best age for the part. Plus, Routh needs a regular role like this to help him establish a new identity for himself as an actor. (Yes, that was a superhero/spy pun.)

 

 

Just for good measure, here are a few others to consider: Channing Tatum (6’1″,b.1980) has the physique, likability factor, and is just barely old enough. (But, he might be “too big” a star for a TV role.) Mike Vogel (5’10”,b.1979) is another possibility. While I usually prefer to stick to the original race/ethnicity of a character, I don’t see why Steve Austin couldn’t be Black, so… I think Lance Gross (6′,b.1981) and Jay Ellis (6’2.5″,b.1981) are potential candidates. They are a tad on the young side, as well, but not enough to make much difference; plus, they have the necessary physical qualities. (I assume they come across as likable guys, too, but I’m not familiar with their work.)

So? Do these guys have the right stuff? (Yes, that was an astronaut joke/reference.) Can you picture any of them as our bionic hero, “The Six Million (Billion?) Dollar Man”? Or, do you prefer someone else? Let’s hear it!

Finally, yes, I know I said last time that I would also fan-cast “Bigfoot” today, but I’ve decided to give the hairy son-of-a-gun his own post. ‘Til then…

 

* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2014.

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Fan-Cast: Batman, part 1

Batman - grey and blue/black costume from comicsFor my first fan-cast post, I wanted to do it on something/someone currently on everyone’s minds. With the much-anticipated Superman vs. Batman (or whatever it ends up being titled) movie (2016) and all of the associated casting news and rumors, I figured I should choose one of those guys, and… the Bat-dude won.

Of course, what I really have in mind with these casting ideas is not just a team-up but essentially a new Batman series of movies (or a TV show, for that matter) that I would like to see, with all of the core, classic and beloved friends and foes that make Gotham City and its environs their home. I actually have several parts/posts planned for the “Bat-family”, as I work my way through good guys and bad guys, masks and civilians. (Not all at once, of course.) So, let’s kick it off with the man himself…

Batman / Bruce Wayne

According to “Who’s Who in the DC Universe”, Batman is 6’2″ and 210 lbs. Our classically square-jawed hero is very muscular but not overly so. He incorporates martial arts and acrobatics into his activities and fighting style, so he needs to maintain speed, flexibility, and agility, along with strength. As Bruce, he is the stereotypical tall, dark, & handsome playboy, who looks great in a tux.

I have three contenders for this role. The first is Victor Webster (6’3″, b.1973). He’s in his early 40s — slightly younger than Ben Affleck, though — and the oldest of my three choices. I first became aware of him as one of the leads in the “Mutant X” series (2001-2004). Nowadays, he stars in the sci-fi show “Continuum”, while making the occasional appearances on other shows or in TV movies/videos. He has proven he can do action, and if you wonder what kind of shape he is in, check him out as Mathayus in The Scorpion King 3 (2012). If the studio insisted on going for a “more seasoned” Bruce/Bats (as they apparently did by casting Affleck), I’d have gone with Webster.

Victor Webster headshot

Victor Webster

Victor Webster poses as Mathayus

Victor Webster in The Scorpion King 3

 

 

Next on the list is Alex O’Loughlin (6’0.75″ or 6’2″, b.1976), co-lead in the new “Hawaii Five-O” TV series. Prior to that, he played a vampire private investigator in “Moonlight” (2007-2008) and a police detective for several episodes of “The Shield”. Oh, he was also a deputy in Man-Thing (2005), if that helps. Audiences have seen him shirtless and doing all kinds of action on-screen. I think he’s believable as an action hero. Plus, his Five-O character — ex-Navy SEAL, Commander Steve McGarrett — is sometimes quite serious, stoic, and intense, which would work for Batman, too, if he cranked it up a couple notches.

Alex O'Loughlin headshot

Alex O’Loughlin

Alex O'Loughlin shirtless - wading in water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, for a 30-ish Batman/Bruce I nominate Brett Dalton (6’2″, b.1983), known to comics fans as Agent Grant Ward in “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”. This is Dalton’s first major role, but he’s certainly proving that he is physically fit (though he could use some more mass & definition) and can play the action hero. One obvious advantage to him playing Batman is his relative youth, which means they can start the bat-story earlier in Bruce’s “career”. Personally, I like the idea of casting a relative unknown (a la Christopher Reeve as Superman). The lure of the “big break” and chance to portray an iconic figure may make him more receptive to a multi-picture deal.

Brett Dalton in dark suit and tie

Brett Dalton

Brett Dalton as shirtless Agent Ward

“Agent Ward” gets a check-up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just to mix it up a bit more, here are a couple honorable mentions: 1) Jay Ryan (6’0.75″,b.1981), currently seen in “Beauty and the Beast”; 2) Joshua Bowman (6′,b.1988) from “Revenge”, who would give us a Bruce/Batman in his mid-20s. If they do a TV series based on Bruce’s pre-Batman years of training, Bowman would be great.

Alright, Bat-fans! I think these guys are all better choices than any we’ve seen on the big-screen (or small-screen), yet. The only thing that could be an improvement, imho, is if they dubbed in Kevin Conroy’s voice. What do you think?

P.S.  Next post will cover the Boy Wonder(s)….

* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2014.