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Dream Casting: Ditko's action heroes

Contributed by
Jul 12, 2018

Dream Casting is an imaginative look at the casting process of potential Hollywood projects based on comics and other media. This isn't just about what is being made; this is about what should be made, and who we think should be the stars.

Last week, news broke about the death of legendary comics artist Steve Ditko. His role in creating Spider-Man and Doctor Strange is hugely important, but he created many more characters than just them, and for more companies than Marvel. As my tribute to Ditko, this week's column is dedicated to the characters he worked on at Charlton Comics in the 1960s.

I'm imagining this adaptation as a TV series set in the mid-1960s, with a very Space Age aesthetic for this Space Age heroes and villains. The villains would be recurring guests, so I've cast some more prestigious actors in those roles, not unlike how the Batman TV series of that decade worked. The main characters from week to week would be Captain Atom and Nightshade, two superheroes who work for the government, the Blue Beetle, a young legacy hero just gaining the public's trust, and the Question, a weird hero who doesn't trust the government... or much of anyone else.

James Wolk as Captain Atom

James Wolk as Captain Atom

Captain Atom is the most traditionally superheroic of these unusual heroes. James Wolk (Zoo, Mad Men) has the look for that sort of thing, and he'll be even more striking with silver hair.

Ana Ularu as Nightshade

Ana Ularu as Nightshade

Romanian actress Ana Ularu (Emerald City) has a unique sort of beauty and demeanor that's well-suited to the shadow-powered superspy from another dimension known as Nightshade.

Jay Baruchel as the Blue Beetle

Jay Baruchel as the Blue Beetle

Jay Baruchel (Man Seeking Woman) isn't the type you usually imagine as a superhero, but then Ted Kord is nerdier than your average costumed vigilante.

Max Minghella as the Question

Max Minghella as the Question

Max Minghella (The Handmaid's Tale) has a unique sort of nervous energy built into him that makes him perfect for a Ditko character, particularly the weirdo known as the Question.

Sterling K. Brown as the Ghost

Sterling K. Brown as the Ghost

A completely unrelated character to the Marvel Ghost who appeared in Ant-Man and the Wasp, Captain Atom's archenemy is skilled scientist and criminal mastermind, something Sterling K. Brown (This is Us, Black Panther) is perfectly suited for.

Neil Patrick Harris as Punch

Neil Patrick Harris as Punch

A skilled magician and dancer, Neil Patrick Harris (A Series of Unfortunate Events) is uniquely suited for such a theatrical villain.

Kate McKinnon as Jewelee

Kate McKinnon as Jewelee

Kate McKinnon (Ghostbusters) can hold her own alongside Harris and of course bring something unique and funny to the role.

Michael Cera as Our Man

Michael Cera as Our Man

Our Man is a counter-culture artist who sculpts a creepy suit in his quest to do away with superheroes, who he sees as regressive. Michael Cera (Arrested Development) has a unique style and demeanor that will make such a weird character interesting.

Monica Raymund as Tracey

Monica Raymund as Tracey

Ted Kord's girlfriend never had much to do in the original comics, but hopefully with Monica Raymund (Chicago Fire) in the role she can be a bit more fleshed out.

Mary Holland as Abby Ladd

Mary Holland as Abby Ladd

Abby's a troublemaking newspaper columnist who's always trying to sniff out the activities of superheroes, something that Mary Holland (Blunt Talk, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates) will approach with plenty of humor.

Billy Zane as the Golden Age Blue Beetle

Billy Zane as the Golden Age Blue Beetle

Dan Garrett, the first Blue Beetle, is a former teacher of Ted Kord's who dies in action and passes on his legacy (but not his powers). Billy Zane (The Phantom, Titanic) will make a great aging hero in that first episode and maybe he can come back for some flashbacks down the road.