Monday (Tuesday when computers mess up) here at iFanboy, we look at comics’ greatest characters and stories and try to imagine what they’d be like in film or television. From the story concept to the people in charge and all the way down to who’d play who, we do it and we call it Comic Book Casting.
DC’s Metal Men is one of those quirky, Silver Age creations that mixes science fiction with a heaping helping dose of humor. Created by Sgt. Rock creator Robert Kanigher and The Amazing Spider-Man artist Ross Andru, the titular stars of this concept were robots made by a Cold War-era artificial intelligence expert and themed after various elements on the periodic table. Dr. Will Magnus created the pliable leader named Gold, the strongman Iron, the protector Lead, the size-shrinking wise-acre Mercury, the self-doubting Tin and the flattening beauty Platinum. The team had a series from the mid-60s to late 70s, but since then has primarily been used as utility players in anthologies and other character’s titles.
But that doesn’t mean these metal-themed heroes aren’t rock-solid. DC head honcho Diane Nelson thinks so, as does Men In Black director Barry Sonnenfeld — who in 2012 talked about doing a Metal Men movie. Once they read this article, maybe they’ll get to work!
DC’s comic division doesn’t quite know what to do with the Metal Men — they’ve done humorous versions, ultra-gritty versions, and one as straight-up superheroes. For my money, I’d take some queues from Duncan Rouleau’s 2008 Metal Men series and bring these artistically dynamic creations to animation rather than live-action. Imagine Metal Men as Warner Bros.’s version of a Monsters Inc.
In this animated movie, Metal Men could focus on our brainy scientist Doctor Magnus and his creation of the Metal Men, as it comes into play against his jealous brother David. The animation medium would allow for some very expressive and imaginative moments, something not even a $200 million live-action budget world. Although it wouldn’t fit in with the next Man of Steel movie, I think that’s for the best for everyone involved.
To direct this relatively unknown but vibrant comic series, I think that Sonnenfeld would be a great. Between Men In Black, the Addams Family movies and his great directing work for Pushing Diasies, Sonnenfeld knows how to match action with slapstick humor and comedic moments. My one slight reservation to this is Sonnenfeld’s lack of work in animation, but given his work with SFX-laden movies he’s already got his feet wet working with computer animation.
Dr. William “Will” Magnus – Jason Bateman: Doctor Magnus has always been a special sort for me, and I think Arrested Development‘s Jason Bateman could handle this manufactured family just like he tries to handle his television family. Plus for animation, he’s got a great voice.
Gold – Jason Segel: Segel is great at playing the honest-to-a-fault good guys, and putting his voice inside the character of Gold would really ring true. Plus, Segel’s comedy and timing is impeccable, which is overlooked in voice-over work.
Iron – Big E Langston: This WWE superstar looks the part, but in his opportunities to speak I think he’s really a diamond in the rough to do more than just wrestle. Keep his lines to a minimum but make them count, and Langston could be a real gem.
Lead – Nick Frost: Lead has always been my favorite Metal Man, going back to their Showcase roots. I think getting someone like Shaun of the Dead‘s Nick Frost in the recording booth could really pay dividends and provide that comedic anchor to the entire project.
Mercury – Johnny Knoxville: While I too had qualms about Knoxville as a legitimate actor given his Jackass roots, I really think in a role like this he could play a great Burt Reynolds-esque character with Mercury.
Tin – Adam Goldberg: The Piglet of this year, someone like Adam Goldberg can really exude that uncomfortable frailty and nervousness in his voice needed to play Tin.
Platinum / Tina – Anna Faris: Like my casting of Iron, Anna Faris as Platinum is a case of someone who looks the part. But since this is animation, Faris’ abilities only make her even more perfect to play this role.
David Magnus / Veridium – David Tennant: This former Doctor Who has already made some attempts to break out of UK cinema, and I think something like this — as Will Magnus’ brother — could tap into his build-up fandom and also his skills to make it a good thing for himself, for fans, and for the studio.