Something I touched on inmy recent open letter to Warner Bros. was the contradictory nature of their “filmmaker-driven” approach to their DC Comics movies. The studio, which has always prided itself on allowing the directors they hire to make the films they want to make, has been surprisingly hands-on with DC- while also giving directors like Zack Snyder and David Ayer just enough rope to hang themselves with. Snyder, in particular, was put in the driver’s seat for the entire DCEU at one point.
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Snyder, working for the filmmaker-driven studio, was somehow allowed to cast and design the most pivotal aspects of the DC Extended Universe. Warner Bros. allowed Snyder to cast the actors who would play Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman before the directors hired to handle their solo films could have a say. He was given so much elbow room in this department that Snyder was even allowed to cast people who didn’t even know they were being considered! There’s a fascinating story out there about how Ezra Miller was vacationing in Costa Rica when he suddenly got a call from Snyder asking him to play Barry Allen, aka The Flash- a role he’d never auditioned for, let alone know he was in the running for.
What happened with Jason Momoa got a similar call? According to the Game of Thrones actor, he was just as caught off guard by the call from Snyder. He agreed to meet with the director-producer, and his assumption was that he’d be up for a villain, or a certain anti-hero that he’s more of a physical match for.
“There were a lot of things that went through my mind. I was thinking like, ‘Lobo.’ I’m gonna play some kind of bad guy. I’m like, ‘Who am I gonna play?’” Momoa told ET Canada about his mindset heading into the meeting with Snyder. “And yeah, he said Aquaman. I was just like, ‘Come again? Pardon me?‘ And then he explained why. I was like, ‘Whoa, buddy. I got your back.’“
You could argue that the DCEU’s unlikely approach towards building the Justice League made Snyder’s influence on the casting process necessary. After all, since they’re releasing that movie before unleashing the solo movies for most of these heroes, he kind of had to cast them before the other directors had a chance to chime in.
Still, it’s worth noting that it would appear that while most studios arrange all kinds of comprehensive screen tests and auditions for the actors that are going to play iconic franchise characters, Snyder was happy to just pluck people out of his imagination and say, “I want you to play _________.”
Momoa thinking he might be up for Lobo also calls to mind the strange story surrounding Dwayne Johnson and his dealings with DC.
At one point, Johnson was attached to a Lobo movie. That fell apart. But the actor continued to hint that he’d be working with DC in the near future. First he teased that he might play the John Stewart version of Green Lantern, then he revealed he was involved in a Shazam movie. But the intrigue didn’t end there, because he let it be known that the studio was allowing him to decide whether he wanted to play Captain Marvel or Black Adam. He ultimately decided he’d rather play Adam. So, again, a major casting decision was handled in an extremely unorthodox way.
In the case of Momoa as Aquaman, so far I consider myself on the bandwagon. He seems like a fairly inspired choice, and like he could lead to an exciting reinvention of the character who talks to fish. From what I saw in the Justice League trailer, Momoa is going to breathe some new air into a character that many people had written off years ago. And yet, I also can’t overlook what a natural fit he may have been for Lobo…
Plenty to chew on here. What do you think of this whole thing, and of WB/DC’s casting methods? Sound off!