With his long-gestating return to comics blooming in the pages of Brightest Day, it's time to take a long, hard look at the Swamp Thing to find his true place not only in comics — but on the silver screen.
Although you might not remember it, Swamp Thing has had not one but two movies, first in 1982 and then in 1989. He's also had two television series — a live action series from 1990 to 1993, and a short-lived animated series in 1991. In each of those incarnations, the screenwriters opted for the character's fist origin by co-creators Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson over the more popular and redefining origin set forth by Alan Moore and Stephen R. Bissette. Although DC have had a rough history with adapting Moore's work for the big screen, this project could be the exception.
To re-capture some of the zeitgeist that turned Swamp Thing into a memorable character and foundation for the Vertigo Comics line, Warner Bros. need to let go and embrace the still-innovative ideas he presented all those years ago. Instead of the character being as a mutated plant version of Alec Holland, he needs to become the aftermath of the death of Holland. Imagine the character as a sentient plant creature that's part elemental and part evolution; Moore descibed it best, saying "a plant that thought it was Alec Holland, a plant that was trying its level best to be Alec Holland."
Although the struggle between environmental activists and corporate interests may be considered passé, it' remains a big issue that Moore's material still reflects twenty-plus years later. Using Moore's revised origin, the threats of the Sunderland Corporation, and and mixing true horror with even-handed compassion could make this a unique movie that could hit home for fanboys, the general audience and even those picky Oscar judges.
I don't think many people would argue with me when I say a successful Swamp Thing movie would be one of the hardest jobs in the world. Not only would you have to deal with making a successful big-screen treatment of a rather esoteric story and character, but also managing the involvement of Alan Moore. Mixing horror with heroes and comics is a big task, but I can think of only one person: Guillermo del Toro.
He's been attached to approximately half of the comic book movie projects out there it seems, but a strong script for The Swamp Thing and a indulgent budget could be all it takes to bring the acclaimed director in line for the movie. If you're unsure, go back and watch del Toro's earlier films Cronos and Devil's Backbone and compare those with Hellboy, and imagine what he could do.
Alec Holland – The Swamp Thing / Ryan Gosling: Although he's yet to anchor a big budget blockbuster, actor Ryan Gosling has definitely proven his acting chops with a string of challenging parts such as in Lars And The Real Girl and the recent Blue Valentine. He's also proven to be adverse to big tentpole movies, but this blend of environmentalism, horror and the storied origin of Swamp Thing might prove to draw him in. Admittedly Gosling would have to perform a majority of the role in full costume or as a voice-over to a CGI construct, but del Toro's shown a track record in bringing out the best in performers despite an intensive special effects shoot.
Abby Arcane / Kate Hudson: Although not known for her horror — or drama — background, this could be just the thing to turn Hudson from a romcom mainstay into a more three-dimensional actress. But in a way, The Swamp Thing is a romance — albiet a twisted one.
Jason Woodrue – The Floronic Man / Michael Sheen: After his scene-stealing performance in Tron: Legacy, Michael Sheen is probably high on alot of people's wishlist to play the villainous part in their movie. Regardless, he could bring a devilish rancor and prove to be a more than able adversary for Swamp Thing.
General Sunderland / John Hurt: Hurt was an integral part of del Toro's two Hellboy films, and he could find himself in a similiar role as head of Sunderland Corporation of a del Toro-directed Swamp Thing. With his memorable voice and sizeable onscreen presence, Hurt could really contrast with the fantastical special effects needed to bring his green-skinned adversary to life.