We get it, Hollywood. Superheroes are big right now.
In the last few years, superheroes have exploded onto the movie scene, with legendary franchises like the X-Men, Spiderman, Batman and Superman, Guardians of the Galaxy, and of course, the ensemble cast of the Avengers leading the blockbuster pack. And it doesn't look like they'll be slowing down anytime soon. If some of the major announcements made at this year's San Diego Comic-Con are any indication, filmmakers are going to be mining even deeper into both Marvel and DC's comic book properties for even more characters and worlds to bring to life on the big screen.
Without further ado, we bring you some of the major casting calls from this year's show.
Guess Who’s Playing...
Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger in the Black Panther Movie
Michael B. Jordan has been cast to play Erik Killmonger in the much hyped and hotly anticipated Black Panther movie. Superhero movie fans might recognize Jordan from his role as Johnny Storm, aka The Human Torch in Josh Trank's 2015 rendition of Fantastic Four (the one without Jessica Alba). His more major claims to fame are 20th Century Fox's box office hit Chronicle, a supernatural thriller involving three Portland teens that mysteriously develop incredible powers, and 2015's Creed, where he starred alongside Sylvester Stallone and Tessa Thompson.
In the Black Panther comics, Erik Killmonger is an expert fighter and an exceptional physical and mental foil for his nemesis Black Panther. A native hailing from the fictional African nation of Wakanda, Erik was born under the name N'Jadaka. When mercenaries under Ulysses Klaw raided Wakanda and endangered his family, N'Jadaka's father was forced to fight on the side of the invaders. However, the mercenaries were repelled, and N'Jadaka lost his father, as well as his homeland, when his family was exiled for their involvement with the Klaw.
N'Jadaka wound up in Harlem, New York, nursing a deep blood-hatred against both Klaw and T'Challa the Black Panther, who also happens to have been the king of Wakanda who'd exiled his family. Perhaps to entrench himself firmly in the supervillain camp, N'Jadaka changed his name to the suitably badass-sounding Erik Killmonger and devoted his life to masterminding the downfall of both Klaw and the Black Panther and claiming Wakanda as his own.
Lupita Nyong'o and Danai Gurira as The Black Panther's Bodyguards
Introduced when Christopher Priest and Mark Texeira were writing for the Black Panther, Nakia and Okoye are members of the Dora Milaje. In generations past, the Dora Milaje were young women raised to be “wives-in-training” for the king who took up the mantle of the Black Panther, but in the modern world, that aspect is, for the most part, highly ceremonial. These days, the Dora Milaje serve as battle-hardened bodyguards to the king of Wakanda.
Having won an Oscar in 2014 for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in 12 Years a Slave, Lupita Nyong'o also plays a significant role in the Force Awakens – but you might not be able to recognize her character in the film. Lupita lends her voice to Maz Kanata, the wise and sassy retired “pirate queen” who ran the cantina out of a castle on Takodana. Lupita will be playing Nakia in the Black Panther movie.
Fans of the Walking Dead TV series will no doubt recognize Danai Gurira as everyone's favorite katana-wielding zombie slayer, Michonne. Gurira lends her amazing athleticism and cool action-heroine poise to Dora Milaje member Okoye in the upcoming Black Panther movie.
Laura Harrier and Tony Revolori as Liz Allan and Eugene “Flash” Thompson in Spider-Man: Homecoming
Actress and singer Zendaya was initially reported to star in the role of Liz Allan, but director Jon Watts has cleared up the confusion surrounding this issue and confirmed that Laura Harrier will be playing the role instead. Zendaya will still play a character in the movie, but film execs haven't explicitly stated which... leading to some tantalizing rumors that she may be the new Mary Jane Watson. *gasp*
In the comics, Liz is most often portrayed as Mary Jane Watson's BFF. Liz dated Flash throughout high school, but would later go on to marry Peter's best friend (later turned arch nemesis), Harry Osborn. Flash Thompson was a classmate who used to bully Peter Parker during their teen years, but as the two grew up, they were able to set aside their past animosities and become close friends. Flash later joined the US Army and served in Iraq, where he lost both his legs rescuing a fellow soldier from enemy fire. Interestingly, Flash would go on to adopt a superhero identity known as Agent Venom, becoming an Avenger and a Guardian of the Galaxy.
Elizabeth Debicki as “Her” in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2
Elizabeth Debicki has been confirmed to be playing the role of Kismet, aka Ayesha, aka Paragon, aka “Her.” In numerous Marvel comic runs, the character of Ayesha is actually a replicant, an artificial life-form created by the Enclave as an attempt to bring about a perfect super-powered being.
Ayesha would go on to travel the cosmos, changing her name to Kismet after the Arabic word for fate, and using her control over cosmic energy to get into all sorts of cool space battles and planetary wars. She could also bring the dead back to life by manifesting a portion of her cosmic life source into the body, and rearrange the entire molecular structure of any tangible object. My guess is that the Guardians of the Galaxy probably don't want to get on her bad side. But they probably will, because, you know, Grooooot.
Kurt Russell as... Wait, What?
One of the most surprising news to come out of Comic-Con weekend is the announcement that Kurt Russell will be performing the role of Star-Lord's father. It was heavily implied in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie that Star-Lord had an alien parent, and now we know who it is. Are you ready? Star-Lord's dad is none other than....Ego, The Living Planet.
Take a moment to let that sink in. Ego, The Living Planet.
The name pretty much says it all: Ego, one of Jack Kirby's more obscure and bizarre creations, is a...uh...well, Ego is a living planet. He's a planet that's...alive. And he has a face and everything. Literally, the guy is a planet sphere with a human face. And an attitude. And an overblown, bombastic manner of speech. Because of his size and the fact that he's a friggin' planet, Ego often finds himself clashing with the biggest and most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe, such as Thor, the Fantastic Four, and cosmic colossi like Galactus.
Sounds like he'd fit right in amidst the misfit Guardians of the Galaxy. What we're kinda not sure about is how exactly he got together with Star-Lord's mom. And, you know, on second thought, we don't really want to know.
Brie Larson as Captain Marvel
The biggest news of all was when Marvel Studios welcomed Brie Larson to the stage, confirming that the Academy Award winner will be starring as Carol Danvers, AKA Captain Marvel, in the upcoming solo film.
Well-known for winning the Oscar for Best Female Lead in 2016, Brie Larson was 'Ma' in 2015's Room, a drama about the extraordinary life of a 5-year-old boy raised within the confines of a 10x10 foot space.
In the comics, Carol Danvers started out as an ally to the original Kree superhero Captain Marvel, and eventually gained superpowers of her own after an explosion merged her DNA with Captain Marvel's. She came to be known as Ms. Marvel, and over the course of many (some regrettable) adventures under the code names Binary and Warbird, she took on the mantle of Captain Marvel after the death of its original holder. Capable of superhuman strength, endurance, flight, a precognitive “sixth sense,” and the ability to project blasts of radiant energy from her fingertips, Carol Danvers has been highly regarded as “quite possibly Marvel's mightiest Avenger.”
Let's Sum Things Up...
We've gotta hand it to superhero movies: they make for an enjoyable entry point into franchises that are often decades old, and tend to be filled with convoluted plot twists, retcons and other tweaks that render them less than ideal for newer comic book fans to break into.
For fans of good old-fashioned superheroing action flicks, there's a lot to look forward to in the coming year.