Fan-Cast: FF Villains, part 1: Mole Man and Puppet Master

“You can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies.”  — Oscar Wilde

At the end of last week’s “fantastic fan-casting” exercise, I said I might do some villains next time. I was right! There are many to choose from, of course, but I picked three of the FF’s earliest foes, whom I also happened to have some pretty good candidates for. (Well, I think so, anyway.) While working on it, I realized I needed to limit this post to two and save the third for next week. As with the last post, I’m attempting multiple characters, so I’ll try not to expound too much on any of them. First off…

Puppet Master

Puppet Master

Puppet Master

The villain known as “Puppet Master” is Phillip Masters, a native of Transia whose boyhood hobby was sculpting figures from clay found near the base of Wundagore Mountain. Moving to America with his parents, young Phillip continued to sculpt as an escape from the bullying of his classmates. What no one knew at the time was that continued exposure to the slightly radioactive clay was causing a mental imbalance. (The clay was later revealed to have mystical properties, as well.) Following a difficult childhood, Masters studied biology in college and became business partners with his college roommate, Jacob Reiss. Reiss died in a tragic explosion, and Masters married his widow. His new step-daughter, Alicia, was blind but a very talented artist. Many years later, she would become the girlfriend of Ben Grimm (aka The Thing) and a trusted friend of the Fantastic Four. (Unfortunately, that also meant she would become a frequent pawn of her stepfather, despite the fact that he genuinely cares for her.)

Phillip, on the other hand, became increasingly unstable and criminal in his pursuits. He discovered that, by fashioning a “doll” from his special clay in the likeness of a real person, he could mentally control that person. By manipulating the doll, he could make the person move in the same way, even when many miles away. With enough concentration, he could completely take over the person’s mind and even alter his/her memories. I should also note that Masters became quite skillful at building toys, too.

Masters was always a bit strange, quirky, but his growing insanity over the years made him increasingly unpredictable and dangerous. Early depictions made him out to be rather “dumpy”-looking, and he wore colorful clothing. But, his more “classic” look is the slender, odd little man in the above pic, often wearing an artist’s smock. He is white, bald, and appears to have an unusually wide mouth. (Or, maybe it’s just his diabolical grin.) Marvel’s wiki page lists him as 5’6″. As for his age, I’d say somewhere in his 50s, maybe 60-ish.

I think the actor that comes closest to Masters’s unusual looks and also roughly the same height is Clint Howard (5’7″,b.1959). (Not sure how slim he is these days, though.) Howard, of course, is the older brother of actor/director/producer Ron Howard. He is known to Trekkies for playing a very odd child/alien in the TOS episode “The Corbomite Maneuver”. His adult credits in genre fare include The Rocketeer, “Space Rangers”, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, “The Outer Limits”, “Total Recall 2070”, “Star Trek: Enterprise”, “Heroes”, “Fringe”, etc. Now, if we wanted to go with someone taller and more sinister-looking, I think Mackenzie Gray (6′,b.1957) could be terrific! Seen recently as a Kryptonian in Man of Steel, Gray will also be a regular in the new “Legion” series. (Debuting tonight!) He has also been in “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues”, “La Femme Nikita”, “The Net”, “First Wave”, “Andromeda”, Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers, “Knights of Bloodsteel”, “Smallville”, “Spooksville”, and he has done a bunch of voicework, too. (Somewhat ironically, he stars as a dying sculptor in a drama this year titled Heart of Clay.)

Clint Howard

Clint Howard

Mackenzie Gray

Mackenzie Gray

 

 

 

 

 

 

harvey_elder_earth-616_from_official_handbook_of_the_marvel_universe_vol_1_7_0001

Mole Man

Mole Man

Harvey Elder is an overweight & squat, extremely near-sighted man, 4’10” tall, with poor posture and a humongous nose. Not surprisingly, he suffered a lot of ridicule both as a child and an adult. He became a skilled scientist, but the taunting and pity (including by the woman he loved) led him to quit is job. He traveled a lot, following legends to find a “land at the center of the Earth”. While he didn’t find quite was he was looking for, Elder did stumble upon Monster Island and later an underground realm dubbed ‘Subterranea’. In Subterranea he found a race of semi-humanoid creatures known as Moloids, who made him their king. He discovered and mastered some highly-advanced machinery long-abandoned in the caves by the Deviants. Elder has also encountered and learned to control several large, non-humanoid monsters within the wide network of caverns lying miles beneath Earth’s surface. Finally, he has somehow gained a measure of longevity and developed a “radar sense” of sorts, while living & working for years in his dark, subterranean empire.

Calling himself the Mole Man, Elder uses his monsters, Moloids, and advanced tech to wreak havoc on “surface-dwellers”, steal various objects, and, of course, get his revenge on his enemies and the world at large for treating him so poorly. His long-time enemies include the Fantastic Four, as he was the very first “super-villain” they encountered after gaining their powers. (Fantastic Four, vol. 1, #1) Elder may be sensitive about his physical form and a resentment for those who mocked him, but he has developed a superiority complex over those who live above ground. While not much of a physical threat on his own, his loyal minions, familiarity with the subterranean geography, and use of technology have made him a surprisingly dangerous and resilient foe.

Casting this poor guy is really tough, and obviously no one is going to be this short, fat, and ugly. (Not without prosthetics, at least.) I’m happy to cast a couple of talented actors who are somewhat on the short side, though. Paul Giamatti (5’9″,b.1967) played a (disappointing) variation of another Marvel villain, the Rhino, in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 not long ago. He has had roles in Saving Private Ryan, The Negotiator, Safe Men, Planet of the Apes, American Splendor, San Andreas, and has done some genre voicework, as well. My second choice is Timothy Spall (5’8″,b.1957), whom you may remember as Wormtail in the Harry Potter movies. He has also appeared in Crusoe, Dream Demon, “Red Dwarf”, “Young Indiana Jones”, Immortality, Death Defying Acts, Enchanted, From Time to Time, and Assassin’s Bullet. (Downsides are that he’s about to turn 60, and he has slimmed down since this pic was taken a couple years ago.) I’d be quite happy with either of these guys.

Paul Giamatti

Paul Giamatti

Timothy Spall

Timothy Spall

 

 

 

 

 

 

So far, so good? Doctor Doom is up next, so, until next week…

* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2017.

Fan-Cast: Captain Marvel (DC), part 3: Marvel Family Villains

I thought it only fitting to follow up the last two weeks’ posts on Captain Marvel and the “Marvel Family” with a post on the “Marvel Family” villains. Well, three of them, anyway, and it seems to me that these three are the primary villains in the “Marvel Family” rogues gallery, as it were.

I know what you’re thinking, and a good argument can be made that the wizard Shazam’s semi-demonic offspring, Lady Blaze and Lord Satanus, are major “Marvel Family” villains. But, other than being basically humanoid, they don’t have any regular human features. When they aren’t disguising themselves as humans or other beings, they just have a solid black face (and horns) with red- or yellow-glowing eyes. So, anyone with sufficient dramatic range could play them — even several people.

That said, I’m gonna stick to these three:

Mister Mind

Mister Mind - classic appearance

Mister Mind (classic appearance)

Mr. Mind w/ speaker-boxAnd, now, I’m going to partially contradict the reasoning I just gave above re Blaze & Satanus. Mister Mind is, as you probably know, a worm — one that is normally worm-size, too. How does one cast that? But, Mind is also a powerfully telepathic, mind-controlling, megalomaniacal alien from Venus and not to be underestimated. So, while the character’s body will have to be done with CGI, I think it is important to find the right voice/personality for him, much as they did for Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Generally speaking, Mind probably should sound quite confident, even pompous, and that would be reflected in the “voice” he uses when communicating with non-Venusians, either mentally or via the speaker-device he often wears. (For example, he would choose a voice that sounds commanding, not soft or weaselly.) I suppose there are a number of voice talents who have worked on genre animated series/movies that would do a great job. I don’t know that many, though I have heard clips of Eric Bauza and Greg Ellis voicing Mind. Still, I wanted to try to come up with regular actors who might be a good fit.

Here’s who I came up with:

James Marsters - black shirt and grey jacket

James Marsters

Kelsey Grammer as mean boss

Kelsey Grammer

Mark Hamill - nice smile

Mark Hamill

Paul Giamatti - smiling, beard and glasses

Paul Giamatti

I won’t get into their respective resumes, as I’m sure you know who they are and at least some of their work. Either Marsters or Grammer could provide a very upper-crusty (American or British) voice. (In fact, while looking for images of Mr. Mind, I came across someone else’s fan-cast of Grammer for the character; but, I swear, I thought of him independently!) Like Marsters, in addition to regular acting, Hamill has done a lot of genre voice work and is best known as “The Joker”. (He would have to do something very different for Mr. Mind, though.) I’m not really sure what I was thinking re Giamatti other than that he could really have fun with it.


Dr. Sivana

Dr. Sivana with cane

Dr. Thaddeus Sivana

Dr. Sivana - with sketches of scenariosNow, who in the world can we cast to play the stereotypical mad scientist, Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, Sr.? (Note: In some versions, he was also Billy’s (and Mary’s) conniving and murderous uncle.) Since I hold to a pre-“52” vision, he has to be on the short side, fairly slim, maybe (but not necessarily) bald. It might even help if he was sort of goofy-looking.

Max Grodenchik - in suit and tie, no smile

Max Grodénchik

Grodenchik as

Grodenchik as “Rom”

Jim Rash in nice shirt and gold tie, glasses

Jim Rash

While there are probably a few others who could do the role justice, the first person to come to my mind is Max Grodénchik (b.1952). If you are a fan of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, you remember him as the beloved Ferengi named “Rom” (among other characters). But, he has also appeared in other series. I think he could do a great job as Sivana. (Plus, we already know he looks “good” bald!) Another possibility is Jim Rash (~5’9″) of “Community”, plus many other things over the years. He’s a little young and a bit taller than I would prefer, but, if he doesn’t mind hunching over all the time, his slim build and bald pate work in his favor.

Black Adam

Black Adam - hovering, arms crossed

Black Adam

Energized Black Adam in the rubbleBlack Adam (aka Teth-Adam) was the original person to serve as a super-powered champion with Marvel-like powers, though his were from Egyptian gods and not Shazam and the even more ancient gods he served. Serious personal tragedy led to Adam’s turning bad, and he is now the antithesis of the new champion, Captain Marvel. Adam is Marvel’s equal in strength, stamina, etc., but prone to arrogance, anger, and brutality. While he has allied with true heroes from time to time (including membership in the Justice Society of America), Black Adam is primarily a villain.

He has a tall, muscular physique like Captain Marvel (anywhere from 6′, 198 lbs., to 6’3″, 250 lbs.), so any actor to take on the role should be of a similar build. It would help if he had a swarthy complexion, since Adam is supposed to be from the Middle East (i.e., Egypt/Kahndaq). Age-wise, Adam is immortal but appears to be at least in his 30s but more often like a 40-something human.

Dwayne Johnson - Mathayus with scimitar, The Scorpion King

Dwayne Johnson as Mathayus in The Scorpion King

Dwayne Johnson in Fast Five

Dwayne Johnson in Fast Five

The obvious and most often suggested person for this role is Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson (6’4″,b.1972), and I fully support his nomination. Apparently, as I write this, it is not entirely clear after all whether Johnson will be playing Captain Marvel or Black Adam in the upcoming live-action Shazam movie. I vote for the latter, because his appearance fits him much better. I also seem to remember Johnson saying he would prefer the darker role. Of course, he’ll need to grow out his hair a little (or wear a wig), but he definitely has the muscles.

Sasha Roiz - shirtless with tattoos, in Caprica

Sasha Roiz - grey sweatshirt with arms crossed

Sasha Roiz

I think Sasha Roiz (6’4″,b.1973) — “Caprica”, “Warehouse 13”, Pompeii, “Grimm” — has a look, as well as the needed height, that might lend itself to this role. He’s already in pretty good shape, but I’m sure he could bulk up to play Black Adam.

Jason Momoa as Khal Drogo

Momoa as Khal Drogo on “Game of Thrones”

Jason Momoa - sports jacket and small smile

Jason Momoa

My third choice, though he is a little bit young and “pretty”, is Jason Momoa (6’4″,b.1979) of “Stargate: Atlantis” and “Game of Thrones” fame. He meets all of the physical criteria, plus (like Johnson) he has already played very physical characters, as well as quite dour and violent ones. He’s got muscles, but he could put on more, like he should have done for the Conan remake. Of course, if he is playing Aquaman as rumored — don’t get me started on this one –, he most likely will not be playing another major DC character, too. Still, if I had my way….

What sayest thou, loyal readers?

UPDATE 9/3/2014:  Dwayne Johnson has now confirmed that he will be playing Black Adam and not Captain Marvel!  Yesss!

* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2014.