Comic Book Casting: The PROPHET Live-Action Movie


Every 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.

John Prophet is a clone. He’s not the only clone, but one of an army genetically engineered humans created by the Earth Empire for missions to protect humanity and their goals. In the revamped Prophet series by Brandon Graham, Simon Roy and others, it follows individual clones as they take on separate missions — and sometimes take on each other, or even their overlords.  The comic itself is as much about that storyline as is its a bizarre magnetic alien anthropology class, meeting different cultures, aliens and machinations and seeing the various John Prophets trying to survive, persevere and soldier on.

Since it’s debut last year, the Prophet series has garnered a cult-following in the comics community and here at iFanboy, and when conversations inevitably turn to potential movie adaptations Prophet is held at arms-length; not because it wouldn’t be an interesting movie, but that adapting it with any level of effectiveness seems challenging and nigh impossible. But I’ve got a plan.

The Concept:

The challenge with any potential movie adaptation of Prophet is the difficulty in translating the non-linear and sometimes esoteric story into the built-up format you think of as big budget action movies. This’ll never be Avatar, but can be something entirely different and great. Instead of fitting it down that path, imagine Prophet as a survivalist movie like 127 Hours or the haunting The Road…. just in outer space. By giving it that spine of humanity, you could add the ample accoutrements of science fiction, globule aliens and wonder as long as you stay true to that humanity.

For storyline, I’d seize upon the storyline of the initial story with a young John Prophet being awoken centuries later than planned and on a last-ditch effort to revive the Earth Empire, but I’d weave that into the second major arc — the Old Man Prophet arc — to build a longer series of movies with the two Prophets eventually crossing paths in the ashes and potential resurrection of the Earth Empire. But with crazy aliens, adventures and histrionics along the way.

The Director:

This isn’t your typical type of special effects-laden action movie, so you’ll need more than just your typical special effects-laden director. I nominate Amelie and City of Lost Children director Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

Jeunet’s ‘only done one traditional Hollywood film — the uneven Alien Resurrection — but he’s more than made up for it with his unconventional, superbly films before and since. The Prophet comic we know it now is as much about the setting, style and tone as much as the characters and story — sometimes with the former outweighing the latter. With that in mind, Jeunet seems like one of maybe a half-dozen known directors who could hope to translate it effectively to the big screen without turning it into The Chronicles Of Riddick or something.

The Cast:

Young John Prophet – James Ransone: Ransone’s no household name, but after his work on Generation Kill he’s been one to watch as a young actor clawing his way to the top. Recently appearing in Treme, Ransone will next show up in the American remake of Oldboy and looks to be one of those actors who becomes an “overnight success” after years of work under the radar. For why he’d be good for this role, Ransone brings a quiet convinction and physicality to his roles and young John Prophet needs all those things.

Old Man Prophet – Dustin Hoffman: Dustin Hoffman may not be looked upon as an action star or frequent star of sci-fi epics, but I think a good story is a good story — and making this thinking man’s science fiction movie in Prophet could be just the thing to bring Hoffman — and non-scifi fans — into the fold. Similiar to the way The Road brought readers — and viewers — into the world of apocalyptic stories, so could Prophet — and so could Dustin Hoffman.

Caravan King – Chiwetel Ejiofor: The Caravan King may not be the classic arch-nemesis out of classic action movies, but I think something could be done to develop him into a sizeable threat on Prophet’s longer road. Ejiofor is an actor’s actor, and having him to the voiceover for this could really bolster this villain’s presence in much the same way Gary Oldman did in Kung Fu Panda 2.

Xiux-Guin Blade – John Hawkes: I once described Xuix-Guin as the Boba Fett to Prophet’s Han Solo, and while that’s not completely apt it’s in the same ballpark I think. Hawkes has a signature voice and cadence, and I’d love to see him suit up as Xiux-Guin and make this fantastical creature work as more than just special effects but a deliberate, dangeorus character.

Rein-East – Helena Bonham-Carter: Bonham-Carter has quietly become one of the signature actors of our generation, and she’s no stranger to sci-fi films and working under prosthetics.Pulling in her to play Rein-East may seem like a no brainer.

Jaxson – Ron Livingston: After his work on Office Space and Band of Brothers it seemed like Ron Livingston was destinated to be an A-list actor. While we’re still waiting for those pieces to come other, I’d love to see him step in here as Jaxon, Old Man Prophet’s eating robot. Comic relief? Maybe, but with potential to be something more.

Diehard – Clarke Peter: Still clothed in the memories of his time as one of the key faces of Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood series, Brandon Graham evolved him into being a different kind of character in the pages of Prophet. I’d love to see Prophet movie cast completely against type and hire The Wire alum Clark Peters to voice Diehard, giving him a sizable voice, presence and experience that would quickly break the stereotype Diehard’s developed and make him one of the most intriguing characters around.


  1. Dammit, you just broke my heart. A movie I never knew I needed, which we will never get…

    Do you think Hoffman is grizzled enough (persona, not appearance) to play Old Man Prophet though? Jeff Bridges could be pretty sick.

  2. I love Prophet about as much as anything on the shelf these days and I love this column but I really don’t think there is anyway to make it into a film. Respect on using two actors from the Wire though (James Ransone played Frank Sobatka’s son in season 2)

  3. Andy Serkis for Hiyohoiagn maybe!? Best character in the series!


  4. Graham’s story is pretty uniquely suited to the comics medium, but I still think this movie would absolutely rock. I think there’s a way for it to be done. Sort of a mix between John Carter and 2001 A Space Odyssey. If that makes any sense, and it probably doesn’t, but it’d still be a lot of fun and I almost think it would be a sure-fire winner because the concept is so good and the characters all seem quite unique and interesting even on the surface.

    Great casting calls too.