Nathan Fillion made the cover of Entertainment Weekly and millions of geeks are celebrating. What happens next? Hopefully, something really big.
I don’t mean buying the rights to "Firefly" or "Castle." Not to oversell it but this might be the most important phase of Mr. Fillion’s career. He has the spotlight now. It comes too late for him to grab the leads in "Green Lantern," "Cowboys and Aliens" or "Battle: Los Angeles." But there are other opportunities out there.
Picking the right project will take Nathan Fillion from a geek god to a bankable star. And then those "Firefly" movies will be a matter of course.
So what is the right role? Impossible to say really. But blogs are for idle speculation so here are my suggestions.
Stainless Steel Rat: One of the great untapped resources of the sci-fi universe. Created by Harry ("Soylent Green") Harrison, “Slippery” Jim DiGriz is a fast-talking, swashbuckling con man and thief from the far future. He’s a space opera version of Capt. Jack Sparrow. Okay if you want to be technical DiGriz predates Cap’n Jack by four decades. For that matter he predates Han Solo. Adapting Slippery Jim’s adventures to the big screen would be a treat. If Hollywood is seriously considering bringing "Old Man’s War" to life, they should have no objections to "Stainless Steel Rat."
Dark Tower: The Gunslinger: Javier Bardem has been offered the role but the finicky Spaniard has yet to accept. Bardem has turned down a number of genre films since his Oscar win. If he says no to this project, Fillion could move right in. He knows how to play a gunslinger. And he should have no trouble with High Speech after "Firefly." Plus it sounds like they aren’t 100 percent sure if this is going to be a TV series or a movie series or both. That might keep somebody like Bardem from joining the project. Portraying Roland in a movie or a series of movies is one thing, but to throw a TV series on top of that might be too much for some actors. Nathan Fillion obviously has no objection to TV work.
Doctor Strange: At this point the studios are running out of first string superheroes from both DC and Marvel. They’re already rebooting "Spider-Man" for crying out loud. On the DC side there’s the Flash, Green Arrow and Hawkman. Fillion could play any of those characters. I could really picture him as the funny, wise cracking, lady killer Green Arrow fighting alongside January Jones as Black Canary. But the one comic book character who is dying for an adaptation is Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme. He’d be a very interesting character to play. He starts out as an arrogant surgeon who loses everything and sets out on a search for enlightenment. Instead he finds magic, demons, and one scary looking bad guy. His origin story makes an excellent arc for the first movie. He’s an easy character to grasp unlike say Hawkman who, depending on which version you’re reading is either a reincarnated Egyptian prince or an alien from planet Thanagar. Plus it’s all about the villains in comic book pictures. Dr. Strange has the awesome Dormammu as a nemesis.
Halo: Halo keeps promising to be the video game adaptation that changes the way we think of video game adaptations. Could Fillion play Master Chief? Definitely. The question is would there be a backlash? Without question, yes. But there’s going to be a backlash from "Halo" purists regardless of whom they cast in the role. You can’t go through a two-hour movie and never once see the hero’s face (see "Spider-Man" and "Iron Man"). If they bring "Halo" to the big screen, Master Chief is going to finally have a face. You might as well cast someone who has a legion of defenders to counter the legion of haters. Plus Fillion already has a connection to the franchise having provided voice work for "Halo 3."
Scanners Remake: All right I admit it. I am stretching. The last entry in a blog list is always a stretch and this one is no exception. I personally disapprove of the very idea of a "Scanners" remake. And normally a successful horror film means the actor gets typecast in that genre (though starring in "The Ring" didn’t hurt Naomi Watts.) But "Scanners" is more than just a horror film. It’s also suspense, science fiction, and action. It’s very similar to the “hidden world” sci fi/fantasy adventure films like "Underworld" and "The Matrix." Plus there is room for improvement. How many people think Fillion wouldn’t be an improvement over previous lead Stephen Lack? But I think Fillion could play the Michael Ironside villain role Revok. Yeah, Michael Ironside is one of the great B movie villains of all time, but anyone who saw season seven of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" knows Fillion can play villainous very well. But the real reason to cast Fillion as Revok is the ending. Not to give away anything, but in the original there was no where else for the filmmakers to go after the final scene (not that that stopped the producers of "Scanners II.") With Fillion cast as Revok, let’s just say, the end would also be a beginning.