Comic Book Casting: ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG Live-Action Movie

AA_003_CVREvery Monday 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.

Last summer the storied Valiant universe was relaunched, and we here at iFanboy have commented repeatedly on how great Valiant and its creators have done at cohesive rebooting a universe (something another publisher we won’t name could learn from). One of the best titles coming out of the new Valiant line has been Archer & Armstrong by Fred Van Lente, Clayton Henry, Emanuela Lupacchino and others. It takes the 1992 buddy comic story of a drunken demi-god and a book-smart-but-not-street-smart kid created and creates something that lives up to the potential with modern comics storytelling. And the pipeline from comic shelves to movie theaters becoming a big thing, Archer & Armstrong looks like an off-beat but no-brainer concept to be adapted to the big screen.

And here’s how it could be done.

The Concept:

The main catalyst of Archer & Armstrong as it starts out is a fanatical religious/capitalist sect that has been adopting and indoctrinating young children to grow into soldiers for their own bent “holy” missions: finding mystical artifacts to use for power, and getting rid of the people who might stand in their way. When this sect sends one of their prize pupils, Obadaiah Archer, to kill an ages-old demigod who is known to possess an artifact known as the Boon, it all gets turned around when Archer’s wizened up and ends up rebelling against his nefarious adoptive family. It’s a buddy movie with high stakes, world-changing variables — Indiana Jones meets Lethal Weapon with a small dose of The Golden Child.

Van Lente has done a lot to spice up the concept with modern elements, such as factions known as the 1%, Christian theme parks, and witty barbs that aren’t just between the heroes and the villains but also between the two heroes themselves.  This all looks like ideal fodder for a movie adaptation despite the fact these aren’t heroes the general public knows. Remember, there was a time no one knew who the duo was from Lethal Weapon. Now imagine that kind of witty script and comedic chemistry mixed with some magical, mystical people, places and things.

The Director:

Director F. Gary Gray got his start like many modern directors, in the world of music videos, but he’s used that as a platform to transition to a string of feature films that are fun, funny and a bit challenging. From the original Friday film to the caper drama The Italian Job and 2009’s Law Abiding Citizen, Gray’s shown he can work in a genre without losing any ounce of creativity. Marvel Studios recently headhunted him to direct the Captain America sequel but he turned it down in favor of a N.W.A. biopic, but I imagine something like Archer & Armstrong could give Gray a more open canvas to create something new in the superhero genre where he didn’t  have to live up to expectations of an already successful franchise.

The Cast:

Obadaiah “Obie” Archer – Spencer Treat Clark:  Each one will have a comic book image showing the ideal line-up/version, and the text will kind of explain how it could be done and why it should be done. Like a brief Comic Book Casting kind of thing for each. Between this spring’s The Last Exorcism Part II and older works like Mystic River and Gladiator,Clark has shown himself as an interesting actor to watch. I’d love for him to play the super-smart super-sheltered Archer in this flick and really come into his own.

Armstrong – Gerard Butler: Picture Butler’s role in 300, then combine that with his work as the dad on How To Train Your Dragon. Close your eyes, and then imagine him drunk. There you go.

Eternal Warrior – Colin Farrell: Farrell’s had some uneven performances in the movies he’s been in, but when he works — he works. I’d love to see him grow out his hair and be an “actions over words” kind o f character hero. His role wouldn’t be  much more than a cameo, but it’d be interesting to see him play off Butler-as-Armstrong and also set-up future films down the road.

Joe Earl Archer – Mel Gibson: When I think buddy movies, Lethal Weapon comes to mind instantaneously. And when I went trawling for the right person to play Archer’s adoptive dad, I couldn’t do any better than Mel Gibson. Gibson might not be in the best light publicity-wise, but as far as delivering as an actor I think he’d be a prime choice to play Congressman Joe Archer.

Thelma Archer – Kyra Sedgwick: Sedgwick killed it with her run on TNT’s The Closer, and I’d love to see her step into Archer & Armstrong and stand beside Gibson as his wife Thelma. Kyra can be an awesome antagonist in her own right, and together with Gibson they could be the anti-buddy duo everyone loves to hate.

Mary-Maria – Lea Michele: She might be a little old for this, but I couldn’t get Glee‘s Lea Michele out of my head to play Archer’s adoptive sister Mary-Maria. Especially when she turns into a nun assassin.

Leader of the Green Dragon Lama – Jason Isaacs: Thank you Fred Van Lente. The idea of Nazi monks is a grindhouse idea come to life, and someone like Jason Isaacs could really pour himself into this role and make it serious without making it dull. Most people know Isaacs from Harry Potter, but I’d argue one of his best villainous roles was as Captain Hook in 2003’s Peter Pan remake that most people missed.


  1. Never tried Archer and Armstrong, but the concept sound so great, I think I will get the trade down the line.
    I also tried the first trades of Harbinger and XO Manowar.both were really cool and well done, but I don’t think I will continue reading. Sadly, my pull list is too big already and I rather drop something new that I am not invested in instead of something I am already geeking out about. Its sad though… somebody wanna give me a few thousand dollars?

  2. I love this book and all of Valiant’s books. You are missing out if you are not reading them.

    And I love the casting choice of Jason Isaacs for an A & A movie.

    The girl from Glee is a nice choice too as Mary Maria.

  3. I’ve tried some of the Valient books, none of them intrigued me enough to buy them. Except maybe for Harbinger and X-O Man of War. I’ll try “Quantum and Woody” when it comes out but…

    This movie sounds interesting, but I didn’t care for the FCBD story that starred Archer & Armstrong. That said, all this choices sound good. If this was a movie, and it got good reviews, I’d probably see it.

    Incidentally, is Mel Gibson ever gonna make a comeback? I know what he said, and it was awful, but it seems like other celebs have done worse recently and still in good(ish) standing.