Film and TV

Dallas Actors Who Should Play Characters in Superhero Movies

William Jackson Harper, best known for paying the indecisive Chidi in The Good Place, would make a great Reed Richards.
William Jackson Harper, best known for paying the indecisive Chidi in The Good Place, would make a great Reed Richards. Frazer Harrison/Getty
The days of comic books adaptations being looked down on as nothing more than elevated B-movies now seems like a distant memory. In the past two decades, superhero stories have become the most dominant form of mass entertainment, with the characters of Marvel and DC comics populating some of the most successful films of all-time. Avengers: Endgame now has the record for the highest box office take of all time, and films like Black Panther and Joker have even made their way to the Oscars.

It’s no wonder that many of the world’s best actors have flocked to get their turn in spandex. Everyone from Michael Douglas to Diane Lane has been featured in at least one Marvel or DC film, so forget snobbery; we’ll soon be seeing actors like Robert Pattinson try his hand at playing Batman, and two time Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali step into the role of Blade.

This week it was reported that Dallas’ own Jonathan Majors will take the role of Kang the Conqueror, the time-traveling villain set to appear in Ant-Man 3. Majors is coming off acclaimed roles in The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Da 5 Bloods and HBO’s Lovecraft County, but this will mark the local actor’s first foray into a Marvel blockbuster.

We can’t wait to see Kang do battle with Paul Rudd’s hapless superhero, but Majors isn’t the only Dallas native who seems destined for a cape and costume. Here are our suggestions for some of the local talent we’d like to see show up in comic book franchises.

William Jackson Harper as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic in Fantastic Four
OK, so the Fantastic Four have had a rough transition to the big screen, as both the 2005 origin film and the 2015 reboot failed to land with audiences. However, with the acquisition of 20th Century Fox by Walt Disney Studios, the characters will be reintroduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and recast with a new set of actors. Who better to play the highly intelligent, socially awkward scientist Reed Richards than Dallas’ William Jackson Harper, who played a similar character on NBC’s The Good Place?

Harper’s Emmy-nominated role as Chidi on the comedy series demonstrated his ability to play a type of idiosyncratic dork with a heart of gold. The Fantastic Four have been referred to as Marvel’s “First Family,” and Harper would have the type of pathos and humor that would make for a heartfelt adventure. Harper is also quite gifted at physical comedy, and could nail Reed’s awkwardness as he literally stretches out of his body.

Amy Acker as Talia al Ghul in the Batman franchise
Robert Pattinson’s Batman is set to face off against Catwoman, The Riddler, The Penguin and many others in 2021’s The Batman, so expect an even larger rogues' gallery to appear once the film gets its inevitable sequels. While it’s the immortal warrior Ra’s al Ghul that leads the League of Shadows and often contends with The Dark Knight, his daughter Talia is one of DC’s most enduring characters. Often an adversary to Batman, Talia has also appeared as an anti-hero and even a romantic interest to Bruce Wayne.

Dallas actress Amy Acker has a vast history of playing complex characters in genre fiction, most notably in Angel, where she played both the timid physicist Winifred Burkle and the wicked demon Illyria. Acker is able to blur the line between good and evil with her nuanced performances, and we’d love to see her take on Talia in the rebooted DC Universe. Acker is also no stranger to comics, having played characters in superhero shows and films like Superman: Red Son, Justice League Unlimited, The Gifted and Agents of S.H.I.E.LD.

Kaitlyn Dever as Dazzler in the X-Men franchise

When the X-Men characters are rebooted into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we’ll likely see yet another iteration of characters like Professor X, Magneto and Wolverine, but it will also provide the chance to see characters who haven’t yet been adapted to the big screen quite yet. One such character is Dazzler, the mutant pop star who has been an X-Men comics regular since the early 1980s.

Dallas-raised actress Kaitlyn Dever has been appearing in intimate character dramas for the better half of a decade, but she’s clearly a force of comedic talent thanks to her role in Booksmart. Dever’s singing talent landed her a role in the film adaptation of Dear Evan Hansen, so it would be interesting to see her combine some classical theatricality with superpowers and action. The character of Dazzler has been reinterpreted by different artists to fit the musical genres of different eras, and we think Dever could craft an interesting interpretation of her own.

Christian Kane as Kraven the Hunter in the Spider-Man franchise
We’ve seen numerous Spider-Man films starring the likes of Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, Tom Holland and the voice cast of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but after eight movies we still haven’t seen one of Spidey’s most iconic villains, Kraven the Hunter. A big-game hunter whose superpowers give him strength and long life, Kraven is defined by his devotion to his code of ethics. With more animated and live-action Spider-Man movies on the way, it seems like the right time to bring the famous villain to the big screen, and we think Dallas’ Christian Kane is the guy to do it.

Kane is no stranger to fast-paced sci-fi, fantasy and action projects, having earned acclaim for his scene-stealing performances on shows such as Angel, Leverage, The Librarians and Supernatural, often cast as a muscle-bound anti-hero whose values place him both in alliance and contention with the heroes. Kane not only has the physicality for the role, but also a rugged charisma that could give Kraven a sympathetic side. Not to mention, Kane is an accomplished singer who fronts a rock group (also named Kane), so if there’s ever an adaptation of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, we know who to call.
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Liam Gaughan has been covering film and television since before he had a driver's license, and in addition to the Observer has been published in, Schmoes Know, Taste of Cinema and The Dallas Morning News. He enjoys checking classic films off of his watchlist and working on spec scripts.