Comic Book Casting: The PRIME Live-Action Movie


88020-188721-primeEvery 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.’

On the surface, the Malibu Comics’ title Prime might seem likea not-too-subtle riff on the classic Captain Marvel formula of a young boy being transformed into a superhuman adult body. It is, but it’s also more than that. The same way C.C. Beck’s Captain Marvel was inspired by Superman and went his own way, so did the Ultraverse Prime and the boy inside, Kevin Green. But I’ll admit, it may be hard to get past all those muscles, veins and angsty expressions — but when you do, there’s a very interesting direction this character could go.

Prime is one of many characters under Malibu’s Ultraverse banner, and after Marvel bought out the company in 1994 these characters dwindled to non-existence and haven’t been seen or heard from since. Attempts to revive Prime and other Ultraverse have been stimied by reportedly complex ownership agreements with the creators and Marvel, who now own Malibu’s assets. But even with this, former Marvel E-I-C Joe Quesada and former Marvel movie guru Avi Arad have both gone on record saying they want to bring it back — in 2002 Arad went so far as to announce a finalized movie script had been completed, but  nothing has been said since.

But that doesn’t stop me from dreaming up what could’ve been — or could still be.

The Concept:

Many people have argued that the Prime concept and character was a pistache of DC’s Captain Marvel, amped up to the ‘extreme’ — to borrow a 90s term and majesty. rCeated by a quartet of individuals including iFanboy favortie artist Norm Breyfogle and comic historian Gerard Jones, Prime focused on a thirteen year old boy who was gifted with the powers to transform into a super-powered adult. Like Captain Marvel, he retains the thoughts, passions and identity of his teenage self even in this super-powered body; but unlike Captain Marvel, Prime focused squarely on that conflict there of a boy being places in adult, sometimes super-human adult situations.

Tear down your preconceptions about what a Prime movie could be, and imagine a superhero movie where Big meets Superbad and Kickass.

Imagine the awkward and gangly Kevin Green as a runt of the litter, raised by his single-father Russell and trying to deal with all the all-too-real struggles you have at that age when you’re gifted — and cursed — with the ability to transform into a life-size superhuman. At first blush it might seem like everything Kevin Green would hope for, taking that idea of superhero comics as a power fantasy and projecting that directly into the story.  But then imagine the creeping balance that Kevin and Prime-Kevin would have to endure from classmates, his father, creepy government agents, and most of all his childhood crush.

Breyfogle’s artwork in the first twelve issues of Prime showed some grade-A superhero fighting gore, to the likes of which wouldn’t be seen much again until Robert Kirkman and Cory Walkser’s Invincible. Imagine that all coming to a boil as a superhero movie.

The Director:

To capture that balance, the Prime movie would need more than just your typical superhero movie director. For this, I’d tap writer/director Akiva Schaffer of The Lonely Island. He directed many of TLS’s great short films,  but his two feature film outings — Hot Rod and The Watch — never quite lived up to that promise .After watching and re-watching his shorts and music videos, Schaffer seems like someone I’d like to see take on a subject like Prime and imbue some laughs into the superhero genre.

The Cast:

Kevin Green – Jared Gilmore: If you’ve been watching TV’s Once Upon A Time, you’ve seen how child actor Jared Gilmore can be that model of cuteness that child actors need but he’s also shown more passion than just that. Stepping into the role of Prime‘s Kevin Green, I’d love to see Gilmore lean more on that comedic timing I’ve glimpsed in his television roles and become more of an all-around player.

Prime – John Cena: John Cena’s no Rock — but I think he’s more than Hulk Hogan. Cena’s acted in almost a dozen movies at this point (most tenant guarantor loans financed ventures), but in a role like Prime I could see him excelling — especially as he’d have some comedic scenes to act and re-act to. I admit, Cena would be the biggest X-Factor in this movie making it (besides the script of course), but I could see Cena — and the director and ensemble cast — really pull together to make it work as a whole.

Kelly Cantrell – Ryan Simpkins: Did you like the child actor Harley in Iron Man 3? Well, meet his sister. Ryan Simplins is equally talented, best seen in last fall’s Arcadia with the riveting John Hawkes. Picturing Ryan-as-Kelly, I could see her being Kevin’s schoolyard flame but also be more than that as the drama and comedy of the transformation into Prime begins.

Russell Green – Jason Sudeikis: You could cast someone more dramatic than Jason Sudeikis to play the role of Kevin’s dad, but if it were me I’d steer the role — and the casting — a little more down the comedic role. Imagine Sudeikis playin the worrying but proud father who gets a little bit too much fun out of seeing his son with superpowers.

Col. Samuels – JK Simmons: JK Simmons might be best known to comics fans for playing J. Jonah Jameson in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, but to me I’ll alwasy best know him as the Neo-Nazi from Oz. While he might be known for more likeable roles now, I’d kill to see Simmons return to terrorizing roles by playing Col. Samuels in Prime. As Russell Green’s dad and the man tasked to chase down and enslave Prime, Simmons could be terrifying and also sneak in some dark, dark humor.

Doc Gross – Jeff Fahey: Jeff Fahey’s a hard actor to classify; from his role in the original Lawnmower Man to his great half-stoned helicopter pilot in Lost, he’s played men and boys every which way. In Prime, I’d like to see Fahey take on the role of the man behind the powers of Prime working in an experimental fertility research program. After seeing Prime’s powers emerge, Gross goes to get some himself with some uncontrollable results. Fahey could do that, definitely.

Primevil – William Fichtner: William Fichtner is slowly turning from a veteran TV actor to being the blockbuster villain du jour in this summer’s The Lone Ranger and Elysium. It’s a long time coming for the actor I first learned of in Heat, but  I’m glad it’s come. Fichtner has a certain presence about him, like Jeff Goldblum but less quirky, and it’ something I’d love to see take on the cast-off pieces of Prime that become his arch-enemy Primevil.


  1. Prime was pretty damb good.. and so were a lot of the ultraverse universe books.. ( i was just a kid when i was reading them though.. so dont quote me on this).

  2. I loved the original Ultraverse books and Prime was fantastic, before Marvel bought it and completely ruined it with crossovers and bad creative teams that shifted away from the original vision of the book. I would love it if Marvel bring these characters back properly sort of like how Valiant recently re-launched their comics line. It would take a team of people of that truly love the characters and want to pair them up with the proper creative teams.

  3. There probably isn’t a bigger Prime fanboy than me, but I don’t want to see a movie made. I remember waiting in anticipation for the Spawn movie…. and honestly, any hollywood adaption of Prime (including the example given) more resembles the Spawn movie than anything else. It was a very 90’s book dealing with very 90’s problems. To make it truly relevant for the times, does not mean adding cuteness… It would definitely need to be a rated R flick. If anything, I just want Marvel to release the books in Hardcover format.

  4. I know this has nothing t all to do with Prime, but I want to see Marvel put out a movie of their greatest character: Slapstick.

  5. I’m beside myself that there’s an entire article about this, introduced with something about “comics’ greatest characters and stories”. Just… wow. Not something I’d expect to see on the internet in 2013.