Oft forgotten, even by his own people, and unknown to many on Earth, the Martian Manhunter also has the unfortunate accolade of being the only member of the Justice League without a film in development.
J’onn J’onnz has had a hard time of it since first being stranded far from his home on the Red Planet, despite his ability to control minds, shape-shift, fly, phase through objects and project beams of energy. Perhaps the only real Superman-beater on the team, like Krypton’s Last Son, he also has a highly specific yet more accessible weakness: fire. That’s right, you can send him packing with nothing more than a can of deodorant and a lighter; that’s if he doesn’t convince you to jump off a building first.
J’onn is certainly a tough character to cast, if indeed he’s cast at all: he might end up being entirely computer-generated, at least in his Martian form. That still leaves the need for a voice actor, however.
So who will play – or voice – this key member of the Justice League?
5. Peter Mensah
A strong visual contender, at least, Peter Mensah is best known for his work in TV’s Spartacus and as playing the unfortunate messenger in 300, memorably consigned to the inky depths with a well-placed boot to the chest. Though they could paint him green and save on the CGI budget, he might lack the acting prowess and appropriately bass-y vocalism the character requires. That being said, if Christian Bale gets to have a Batman voice, why couldn’t Mensah affect more sonorous tones for the sake of the Martian Manhunter. Out of the whole JLA, as crucial yet disregarded as the J’onn J’onzz is, this is one piece of casting that needs to go right.
4. Vin Diesel
He’s got the muscles, the voice, the shiny bald head and a peculiar ability to pull off strangely coloured eyes. Based on his filmography so far, the Pitch Black star might not have the proven acting chops to play the emotionally-complex Martian – the closest he’s come is probably The Iron Giant – though he could certainly kick an appropriate amount of ass. In fact, he could make for a very interesting take on the Manhunter as a more physical combatant. As it stands, he may be committed to an unknown position within the rival Marvel Universe, but if Ben Affleck can be Daredevil and Batman, surely Diesel can find a way to make it work.
3. Idris Elba
A permanent feature of late on every fan-casting list, Idris Elba has already made his break into the superhero-genre as Heimdall in Thor. Well-muscled and gruff-voiced, he’s become a familiar face through the likes of Luther and The Wire, but is still yet to achieve that defining role. Set to play the iconic Nelson Mandela in the adaptation of his book The Long Walk to Freedom, Elba is a rising star, one whose presence, on the basis of Prometheus and Pacific Rim, can sell a movie (in the case of the former, even elevate otherwise lamentable dross). His candidacy may be grounded in his appearance – he certainly looks the part – but Elba is a more-than capable actor, possessing both the brains and brawn to pull off the part of J’onnJ’onzz.
2. Billy Crudup
An accomplished and convincing actor who’s tested the waters of an ominous and emotionally-distant superhuman being before, Billy Crudup is an obvious choice for the CGI-heavy Martian. Though critical opinion on Zack Snyder’s Watchmen may vary, Crudup was widely regarded as one of the best things in it, and having worked with the Man of Steel director before can’t hurt his chances. He may not have quite the physicality of some of the other names on the list, but, then again, the Martian Manhunter was rarely one to resort to throwing punches. Why throw a punch when you can drop a foe with the power of your mind?
1. Doug Jones
This creepy stick figure of an actor is best known for his motion-capture work. He previously portrayed both the Silver Surfer and Hellboy’s fishy sidekick Abe Sapien. He’s actually a surprising vocal talent, too, despite often being dubbed over for more commercial roles. Definitely a solid choice for the CGI route, Jones might just a tad scrawny to play J’onn J’onnz. Nevertheless, his valuable supporting work in films as varied as Pan’s Labyrinth and Men in Black II suggests Jones is worthy of some time in the spotlight, even if it is under a CG mantle. He even has the right last name for the Manhunter’s human alias John Jones. Sure, he’s an unlikely choice, but an intriguing one nonetheless.
Who would you like to see take on the Manhunter’s pronounced brow? Shout out below!