Comic book characters have, over the years, gone through many different iterations: Batman has run the gamut from camp to brooding. This pattern is also paralleled on screen, particularly whenever a character is rebooted.
In celebration of the continuing tradition of recasting beloved figures, here are a list of actors that AP2HYC believes could do justice to some of our favorites, giving them a new lease of life, and, perhaps, becoming the standard bearers for their roles.
The focus here is on well-known characters that have been poorly played or who have had so many versions that it is time for a rethink, as opposed to small unheard characters who deserve a shot at the big time.
1. John Malkovich as Lex Luthor
This role has always attracted a good stock of acting talent, from Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey to Smallville’s excellent Michael Rosenbaum. Lex Luthor has to have several believable qualities that sometimes contradict one another, so the for the actor to give a good performance he must be able to handle Lex’s inner complexities. So, what are the basics? Lex Luthor is in many ways an evil version of Bruce Wayne. He comes from an incredibly wealthy family, had a tragic childhood, and also is phenomenally intelligent. The difference is that Lex became an evil genius with an insatiable lust for power with one hell of an inferiority complex, but still carries what he think is a good heart and noble intentions, despite his disturbing the-ends-justifies-the-means mentality.
John Malkovich, while maybe getting a little on the old side now (he is 59), has shown that he can do megalomaniac in his sleep. He brings a great intensity and malevolence in his darker performances, and I think this might suit an iteration of Lex that is colder than Kevin Spacey and Gene Hackman’s turns, perhaps a more ruthless and angry take where his flawed personality can really come to the fore. The portrayals, in particular from Hackman and Spacey, really brought out the “comic” in comic book film. They were light, flamboyant and, in honesty, these Luthors were more wealthy and entitled than than darkly intelligent and convincingly Machiavellian.
In films stretching right back to the beginning of his career, Malkovich has always had a fancy for characters of questionable integrity, dark ambition and ruthlesness. One only has to mention Con Air, and you know he can deliver as Lex Luthor. A recommended watch is also Disgrace, a more subtle performance but no less disturbing. In fact, his increased years might suit our current era where we are looking for more authenticity in our stories. At that respectable age, he has had more than enough time to establish himself as a billionaire, have got his hands very dirty in the process, and be even more loath to give it all up for some young Boy Scout in a cape and red underwear. He’ll have that dark shady past, and those older eyes will have seen some horrendous incidents take place, all in the name of power.