Skulduggery Pleasant Movie Casting

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So! Skulduggery Pleasant is a series of books which I am extremely fond of – they’ve always been my favourite books, really. I’ve written a little bit about them before, but never on the topic of one of the things that’s always interested me about the series – the possibility of a movie. I suppose in many ways that’s just the spectre of Harry Potter, looming over every book that came in its wake – Skulduggery Pleasant doesn’t really need a movie, and it’d probably be even more difficult to adapt than the Potter books were.

But, you know. I enjoy the challenge of fancasting the roles, and trying to come up with a group of actors who fit the characters. So, let’s begin with the main roles of the first book…

Benedict Cumberbatch as Skulduggery Pleasant

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I know, I know. Cumberbatch is in everything at the minute, and he’s starting to grate on a lot of people. Realistically speaking, I suppose it’s entirely possible he wouldn’t actually have the time for these movies – Dr Strange will take up a lot of his time, and I can’t imagine it’d leave him inclined to take on another franchise movie.

But I do think he’d be well suited to this role. Typically, Benedict Cumberbatch gives very well mannered, precise performances; the level of attention he pays to his roles would come in handy here, I think. I also think Cumberbatch has got a great voice for this role – one of Skulduggery’s defining characteristics is his voice.

Also! Cumberbatch has some experience with motion capture, which I think would be the best way to depict Skulduggery. Alternatively, if that’s too expensive, there’s the option of Red Skull style makeup as another possibility.

Honourable mentions: David Tennant, possibly Paul McGann

Maisie Williams as Valkyrie Cain/Stephanie Edgely

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Now, in the past, I would actually have advocated that an unknown actress play this role, simply because there aren’t any famous actresses young enough who are the right age for the character; no one knew who Daniel Radcliffe was before Harry Potter, after all.

But with a bit of thought, I’ve actually changed my position: it is damn near impossible to adapt a nine book series straight from page to screen. It’s actually really impressive to think that Harry Potter did it at all – you just wouldn’t be able to replicate that with Skulduggery. It’s far more likely that we’d see a series of films lifting from and adapting multiple books at once; I think five films is probably the upper limit on the length of the series.

It makes sense, then, to cast an experienced actress who you know can play the role well; Maisie Williams could probably play the role slightly younger anyway, perhaps 15 or 16 rather than her actual 18. I do really think, though, that she’s talented enough to play this role exceptionally well; Val can easily be the next Katniss, and Maisie Williams is definitely talented enough to be the next Jennifer Lawrence.

Honourable mentions: Well, an unknown really. I’m sure there’s someone who could play the role well.

Idris Elba as Ghastly Bespoke

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This, I imagine, is relatively self-explanatory. Idris Elba is a really great actor, and I think he’d be well suited to the character of Ghastly, able to bring the right sort of nuance and subtlety to the role.

Ghastly is one of my favourite characters in the books, for the record; Idris Elba is definitely the sort of actor you’d want bringing this role to life, because he’s really very skilled.

It is, true, something of a departure from the source material, wherein Ghastly is a white man… but honestly, Idris Elba really is the best actor for the role. Can you genuinely think of someone else who fits the bill? I’ll wait. No? Me neither.

Honourable mentions: There really isn’t anyone else I’d want to see in this role. I used to think Michael Chiklis was a possibility, but I’m less convinced now. I suppose Tom Hardy is a possibility, but I’d be more inclined to choose him for Mr Bliss.

Natalie Dormer as Tanith Low

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I mean, my first preference for a future role for Natalie Dormer, if I were for some reason dictating her career choices, would be as the Doctor. That’s the role I’d most like to see her play, really, even moreso than Tanith.

But, if it were possible to have both, Natalie Dormer would absolutely be my first choice to play Tanith; I definitely think she could pull off the different challenges the role would bring, across the length of the series. (Spoilers!)

Plus, if the Tanith Low and the Maleficent Seven book was ever adapted to be a movie (which, admittedly, seems unlikely to me; perhaps a tie in television miniseries?) Natalie Dormer is absolutely the sort of actress who could carry something like that and hold the lead role.

Honourable mentions: Again, no one else really comes to mind. Alice Eve is a name that comes up often though, when I’ve spoken to other people about it.

Katie McGrath as China Sorrows

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Katie McGrath is basically just how I’ve always pictured China, really; I’m basing this a little in terms of her portrayal of Morgana from Merlin, though somewhat more the later seasons than the earlier ones. I do think she’d be able to give the right performance for this role, in any case.

Incidentally, Katie McGrath is also the only one of the actors I’ve picked out so far who’s actually Irish. Skulduggery Pleasant is set in Ireland, so it’d probably be important for at least some of the actors to have accents; thus far I have made sure to limit the casting to actors from the British Isles, in any case.

Also! Derek Landy knows Katie McGrath, so that’s a nice connection.

Honourable mention: Ruth Negga, from Agents of SHIELD, is another possibility.

Mads Mikkelsen as Nefarian Serpine

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So this one is actually the biggest departure from what I’d previously planned out; for a couple of years before making this post, I’ve had the previous five choices essentially set in stone. For Serpine, I’d always sort of leaned towards Tom Hiddleston, because I imagined Serpine as being somewhat similar to the way Hiddleston played Loki.

But with a bit more consideration, I actually decided that Mads Mikkelsen would be a better choice; again, it’s something of a departure from the source material, in that he’s not even a British actor, but I think you can probably take a few liberties with it.

The reasoning behind this, in any case, is because I think Mikkelsen is a better age for the role; the characters of Serpine and Skulduggery are supposed to have a real history together, and there’s a real weight to that history, which I don’t think would necessarily be conveyed with younger actors. Also, I do think that Mikkelsen would be very good at portraying the calm exterior of Serpine, as well as the moments of sheer rage.

Honourable mentions: Tom Hiddleston, as I’ve already said, and quite possibly David Tennant.


That, in any case, concludes this post. There’s still quite a few main roles I’ve not cast – particularly in the later books – so I’ll most likely continue this with a few more posts, actually. I’ve got some pretty good ideas for Vaurien Scapegrace and Erskine Ravel in particular, actually; prize for anyone who can guess the actors I have in mind.

If you’ve got any thoughts on this – agree, disagree – let me know in the comments! And, hey, if you liked these, or agreed with them, share it around; I don’t think this cast is actually, you know, possible, but it’d definitely show that we’re interested in a movie, and want to see these stories on the big screen.

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Spider-Man Movie Pitch

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Alright then, Spiderman. I have had some thoughts on this new movie!

On Spider-Man

Mostly I have few requirements for Spider-Man (I’ve been meticulously hyphenating his name, because it makes me feel like a proper nerd and everything). I’d say the most important thing, character wise, is that he should be funny. It’s kinda difficult to get it right, maybe because you don’t want it to be facetious, and you don’t want it to be quippy in a gimmicky way but I feel like, with the general track record of the MCU, the humorous aspect is probably dead set to to be done right. There’s also some directorial stuff – Spider-Man, when he’s swinging around, should really look genuinely quite amazing. I don’t really know much about the director (nor does anyone else, really) but I think it’s a reasonable assumption to make that that kind of quality will be assured.

On Peter Parker

I have recently realised that pretty much any permeation (iteration? interpretation? depiction?) of Peter Parker wherein he isn’t a straight white guy adds a new and more compellingly layer to the story. (For example, linked here, this version of Peter Parker wherein he’s African-American) The ship has sailed on that one, given the casting of Tom Holland (who I am sure will do excellently), but I still think it’d be interesting to depict Peter Parker as gay or bisexual, because it reflects a lot of the original themes which played a crucial role in the character, back when he was first envisaged – the idea of someone who was a bit of an outcast, who represented the underdog. That basic idea is what comes into play, if depicting Peter Parker as gay.

The way I’m thinking they’d depict it is relatively subtle, in a nice kind of way. Throughout the film, you’d have references to MJ, this person Peter has a crush on. Everyone who’s reasonably familiar with Spider-Man has some idea of MJ, so they know who we’re referring to, even though you don’t actually see MJ. So, anyway, you have Peter’s friends, giving him a bit of a good natured ribbing about the crush, scenes like that. And then towards the end of the film, Peter can pass this guy in the corridor, and feeling a little more confident – perhaps because he’s been out being Spidey – says to this dude:

“Hey MJ”
“Hey Peter”

MJ, of course, stands for Mark John Watson.
It might be nice if we’ve seen this guy around a few times, in different scenes across the school. Perhaps a roll call scene, where the teacher calls him ‘Mark’, setting up the eventual “twist” at the end. I quite like that idea.

On the Supporting Characters

Okay, so if Peter Parker is going to be in school, then that means that we’re going to spend a not inconsiderable amount of time with his friends – I’m sort of imagining this taking place with maybe 50% or so of the scenes in school, and with Peter out of costume, to really explore the angle a teenager, gifted with powers most kids could only dream of, but ultimately dealing with his life becoming far more complicated than ever. None of the characters in the MCU at the minute really have secret identities; Peter, on the other hand, does.

Let’s say, then, Peter can have two to three friends, as well as a school based antagonist. The antagonist is of course Flash Thompson, who’s a bully, and quite a bother for Peter and his friends. Something which I’ve seen proposed online would be for Flash to be bullying people because he’s closeted; it’s Spider-Man who inspires him to come out, and be less cruel to others. That could, if handled well, be a pretty interesting subplot to include, because it’s showing the way in which heroism can impact on and inspire others – as well as forming an interesting counterpart to Peter, if he were depicted as gay.

One of the friends could be Harry Osborn – but since he’s been done twice before, it might make sense if this film decides to eschew the use of him. (Then again: How about Peter in love with MJ, whilst Harry has an unrequited crush on Peter? Could be an interesting angle for future Green Goblin appearances)

Bringing us onto Peter’s two other friends, we’ve got Felicia Hardy, being set up potentially as the Black Cat for sequels, and providing another LGBT character (As nice as it would be, it seems unlikely that Flash or Peter would be depicted as LGBT; at least with Felicia, there’s a comics precedent. Still, I’m trying pretty hard to make the lineup for this film as diverse as possible.)

The next friend, who would form a pretty important part of the narrative, is Kamala Khan. She knows Peter’s secret, and she encourages him to do a lot of what he does. Essentially she’d fill a role not too dissimilar from Cisco on The Flash; really enthusiastic, and really enjoying the world of superheroics, You’d have references to and maybe briefly see her family, but they wouldn’t really take focus. There’s going to be quite a few scenes between the two of them, where they confide in each other and joke around and all that. It’s a little bit of a departure from the Canon, but it seems like a good way to introduce Kamala.

Obviously, in terms of Peter’s home life, he’s living with Aunt May. There’d be references to Uncle Ben, but very few to his parents; presumably at this stage in Peter’s life, he’s essentially as content with the death of his parents as he could ever be, and what’s bothering him more is the death of his Uncle. The idea of “With great power comes great responsibility” is still a motivating factor, obviously.

On the villains

This is actually quite a difficult one, thinking about it. A lot of the more iconic villains, like Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus, have been done, and done quite memorably. My own favourite Spider-Man villain is the Lizard, and of course he’s been done… I think it’s important to keep this story small scale, because Spider-Man, I think, works best when he’s just protecting his own city, or even his own neighbourhood.


I mean, Wilson Fisk is worth considering, because he’s quite heavily associated with Spider-Man, given his appearances in the cartoons and whatnot, and Vincent D’Onfrio does play the role amazingly well. But I think that it might be difficult to portray Fisk in an all ages Spider-Man movie in the same way he was in Daredevil. Perhaps the majority of the violence could be implicit? If done correctly, it could still be suitably horrific, yet suitable for younger kids – but that’s a very fine line to walk. If this were an origin story, I’d be tempted to try and involve Uncle Ben’s killer in some capacity. That could still be possible – if the origin is told in the opening credits, a la The Incredible Hulk, then perhaps a thread of Spider-Man investigating Uncle Ben’s killer, and then being lead to a weakened Fisk, who’s trying to rebuild somewhat… That could potentially be quite a strong plot to use. If Fisk is still in prison, and he’s pulling strings from there, that’s an easy way to limit the violence, and keep it a little bit more PG. (Or, you know, 12A.)

Alternatively, if it’s being kept school based, the idea of the Jackal (Miles Teller, who’s a teacher at Peter’s school) could be a route worth exploring… though it’d probably be advisable to avoid all the complicated clone stuff. Potentially Mysterio could be worth dealing with, however the angle from which I’d approach him (the illusions he uses providing a more psychological threat with less punching) might not be the most interesting for all age groups. Still, I reckon there’s probably a pretty strong Mysterio movie, somewhere, and it’s likely that might be the direction they go in.

On the tone

Something I’ve been wondering about, as I’ve been writing this, is the possibility of voiceovers. With the exception of Iron Man 3, it’s not really prominent in superhero movies – although they are pretty common in comics themselves. It might help to establish the tone, to use the voiceovers, and let Spider-Man… Not quite break the fourth wall, but make jokes and comments in a way that are sort of outside the narrative. Again, it’s a tricky thing to get right, particularly if you do use Fisk, but I imagine if handled carefully, it could be quite successful.

Music is also important in establishing the tone – not to step on the toes of Guardians of the Galaxy, but it could be nice to see, say, some scenes of Peter swinging around set to some upbeat music. As in, not a film score, but an actual song, which the audience will know? That could be worth considering; at this point I’m just kicking ideas around. Essentially though, I’d approach this not as “The Amazing Spider-Man”, or “The Spectacular Spider-Man”, but “The Friendly-Neighbourhood Spider-Man”. If they could actually get away with this as a title, that’d be nice.

Essentially, the most important part of this movie is to be really fun, and enjoyable to watch.

The post-credits scene

Oh, well, this one is obvious. Kamala Khan gets her powers here. A Ms Marvel movie can follow a few years later, after the Captain Marvel movie, with Peter as a supporting character in her movie. Kamala has inhuman genes… so potentially they could follow up on that fish oil plot from Agents of SHIELD. Maybe have her drinking the stuff (do you drink fish oil? Or, like, fry things in it? And is it halal?) throughout the movie, and then the end credits sequence shows her… say, stretching for a pen, and then her arm actually stretches. The final line of the movie is her saying “What.”

Alternatively, if this isn’t placed so well, timeline wise, in terms of when they do Captain Marvel and when they do Inhumans, maybe a short meeting between Spidey and Daredevil could work. That’d make sense if you did use the Fisk plot – presumably in Daredevil Series 2, most of Matt’s attention is going to be divided between Punisher and The Hand/The Chaste, so a sort of “Thanks for dealing with Fisk while I was busy” scene might make sense.

So, any thoughts?

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