Created by Dwayne McDuffie, Robert L. Washington III and a young John Paul Leon, Static was for many the flagship title of the 90s publisher Milestone. Publishing under the guise of DC (and later bought out by it), Static was an inner city teenager forced to balance life in a gang-ridden neighborhood and found his only means of escape in his superhero identity, Static.
Following an acclaimed comics run, Static found a second life in the form of the animated series titled Static Shock, which ran for four years. That mainstream popularity led to a young Geoff Johns to be among the first to try to incorporate him into the DCU, first as a Teen Titan and then later in his own series.
With all the potential from the comics and the grip it has on the general public with his former series, Static Shock could — and should — be a “intellectual property” (as they call it) worth investing in to broaden the base and the horizons for DC’s movie plans. Enough business talk, let’s figure out how it could be done.
Co-creator Dwayne McDuffie is on record stating how Static was inspired by Spider-Man, and for a live-action movie they should follow through with that — to an extent. Virgil Hawkins has a vastly different upbringing than Peter Parker, something that most modern teenagers would find themselves in common with more. An angsty teenager full of promise, but seemingly bottled up by the politics of high school life, slowly finding a conduit to express himself.
In a Static Shock movie, I’d go directly to that origin — showing how Virgil and his fellow “Bang Babies” got their powers, and how Virgil deals with it in his own way. His high-school bully, F-Stop, becomes even more of a roadblock when his own powers emerge, cramping Virgil’s style both in school vying for the affections of Frieda and also in his budding superhero career. And on that superhero side, we could see Holocaust coming in to mentor Static and Static rebelling against that dark path Holocaust offers and instead stands on his own terms.
This Static Shock movie could be some powerful filmmaking — and I’m not just talking about the special effects — but you need someone in the director’s chair to prevent this from becoming the next Steel. Shaq, I’ll never forgive you.
To take this unique challenge on, I’d cast my net far outside the typical pool of would-be superhero directors and hire Beasts Of The Southern Wild‘s Benh Zeitlin. The rookie writer/director is a die-hard comics fan, and someone with a more worldly outlook on things to bring a broader set of skills than just your straight-up action director. I’d love send him a complete set of Static Shock comics and see what he came back with.
Virgil Hawkins / Static – Jaden Smith: There’s been a lot of ill will put on Jaden Smith, given that he broke into the industry thanks to his father Will Smith, but a second viewing of The Pursuit of Happiness and Karate Kid shows some excellent promise. Put it this way — when his father Will Smith was his age he wasn’t even rapping yet, and Jaden’s in line to put his father to shame if he holds up — and playing Static could be an ideal thing for both him and the character.
Robert Hawkins – Forest Whitaker: Some people may be put off by Forest Whitaker’s eccentricities on screen, but I see him as an actor playing on multiple levels here. To play Static’s father and be the counterbalance to the influence of Holocaust, I think someone of Whitaker’s stature is necessary to work as more than just a two-dimensional father figure.
Sharon Hawkins – Amandla Stenberg: Early on her role isn’t much, but as a Static movie series progresses Sharon’s role could be huge. From what I’ve seen of Stenberg from Hunger Games, she could be an ideal sister for Jaden-as-Virgil and as a developing character of her own.
Richie – Dakota Goyo: The underdog best friend of Static (already an underdog), I’d go a little younger than is portrayed in the comics and cast the actor who played the young Thor, Dakota Goyo. Goyo, who also starred in Real Steel, is growing fast and would be an ideal sidekick for Virgil and to help witness his friend’s transformation into a hero.
Frieda – Bella Thorne: One of my favorite comic couples — even when they weren’t dating, and it couldn’t have been without Frieda. Best known to most for the role of Tancy in Big Love, Thorne is a product of the Disney Channel but is quickly emerging into something more. I’d love to see what she could do in the role of Frieda.
F-Stop / Hotstreak – Austin Butler: This teen actor just started as the love interest for the Sex In The City prequel series The Carrie Diaries, and is just the right kind of hothead on screen to move over into something more literal like playing Static’s school bully, F-Stop.
Holocaust – Lennie James: Lennie James is one of the most underrated actors out there, despite excellent roles in The Walking Dead, Jericho and the early film 24 Hour Party People. Although he may not have the muscles Holocaust does in the movie, there’s no doubt James could be twice as threatening as Holocaust while not being a straight-up villain.