Listen up, Pop Culture Planet, superheroes in modern Hollywood are big business. A billion dollar business. There’s no doubt, they generate more money than Bruce Wayne, Stark Enterprises and LexCorp combined. That being said, comic book aficionados demand a lot of their big screen superhero adaptions.
There is no more margin for error to bungle The Incredible Hulk by putting that franchise in the clumsy green hands of some art house director (again and again). No more time to make another Shakespeare in the Park adaption of the next Thor sequel. No one, not the powers that be in Hollywood, director Ben Affleck, or otherwise can seem to get The Justice League united (let alone off the ground).
But there is one superhero that has seemingly slipped under the radar (so to speak). One favorite comic book character from my childhood that would be so easy to adapt to the silver screen that the production would be beyond spectacular (well, okay, maybe just enjoyable anyway) within the boundless boundaries of IMAX, 3D and CGI.
I’m talking about the smallest star from Showcase #34. The guy that always seems to draw the short straw when the roll call for the Justice League, Super Friends, or any other heroic squad is announced. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about Dr. Ray Palmer, PhD, also know as the Atom.
Sure, pop culture “purists” may scoff at the mere mention of this scrappy superhero from the DC Comics universe being made into a big budget summer blockbuster. But, Hollywood, you had your shot with a dim bulb adaption of Green Lantern starring Ryan Reynolds. It’s time for the Amazing Atom …the Astounding Atom ….uh, the Smashing Atom …or, whatever …it’s time for Ray Palmer (creator of the white dwarf star lens gizmo that enables him to shrink to the size of a sub-atomic particle) to become the next star on the Hollywood comic book walk of fame!
But, again, nobody in Hollywood probably wants to give this diminutive dynamo his day because they are too busy planning ways to repackage Wonder Woman in star-spangled spandex for the umpteenth time. But that’s why I have a multi-step action plan for Hollywood to get my adaption of The Atom produced — and critically acclaimed — faster than you can say direct to video (if video stores still existed):
Casting! Casting! Casting!
Everyone knows that a classic superhero movie is only a good as its casting. Look no farther than Christian Bale as the Dark Knight and Heath Ledger as the Joker to prove that point. That’s why I have concocted the perfect scheme, more elaborate than anything the Riddler, Lex Luthor or even Harvey Weinstein could ever dream up to get my Atom movie made and on its way to theaters for a spring 2015 release date.
Because just like The Avengers …you need to assemble the perfect cast. And there’s only on man to play The Atom: Jon Hamm.
Think about it: Who has a better “retro look” than the ultimate Mad Man himself to play a silver age superhero created in the 1960s? Slicked back hair, white lab coat and brooding over samples of his beloved white dwarf star in some far away laboratory on some Ivy league campus.
Jon Hamm is the perfect choice to play Dr. Ray Palmer. He’s got the acting chops and pedigree to bring a little prestige to this B-list comic book icon along with some snarky superhero wisecracking ability. And Hollywood would love to cast him in this project because Hamm has yet to make the jump to the big screen in a leading man role. It’s the perfect vehicle for him, I think, after Don Draper takes a swan dive off the Time-Life building, post-Mad Men.
In comic book movies, you’re only as good as your villain (Ain’t that right, Dr. Light?). Come on, it’s the perfect piece of casting sense to have one of the longest-running antagonists in the DC Universe like Dr. Light be the bad guy who goes up against science nerd turned superhero, Ray Palmer. And if you are going to make the daring leap to use a nondescript villain like Dr. Light in your Atom movie, you’re going to need a large than life thespian to bring grand old Arthur Light to life.
So who better to chew up some dimly-illuminated scenery than one John Malkovich. Malkovich stole the show as the psychotic would-be presidential assassin pitted against Clint Eastwood (In The Line of Fire). Slap a snug-fitting black unitard on him (along with a Napoleon-like battle helmet for full effect) and equip him with an Atom-smashing ray gun and you are back in the comic book movie business, Hollywood!
You are going to need a smart and smoldering Jean Loring. Before she suffered a severe mental breakdown and murdered Elongated Man’s wife, Jean Loring was a mild-mannered lawyer and primary love interest for Ray Palmer in Ivy Town. But to come between the dynamic forces of strong onscreen personas like the Atom and Dr. Light (Hamm and Malkovich) you are going to need a strong, sophisticated and sultry object of their desires (Come on, the main villain in any respectable comic book is always hot for the hero’s main squeeze). I’m thinking it is going to take a Julianne Margulies or Lara Flynn Boyle to spice up dreary old Ivy Town.
And, yes, I’m sure Hollywood would want someone younger to play the female lead role, but don’t even think about forcing a Lindsay Lohan or Miley Cyrus on me (because, hey, I’ll go all Sue Storm on you). Is Lauren Graham busy these days? I’m sure we can compromise on the tiny details over brunch at the Tropicana Bar in the Hollywood Roosevelt.
The screenplay has got to be better than the special effects.
Yep, in this day and age, the techno-wizards of Hollywood could have a lot of fun with a pint-sized superhero project like the Atom. But if George Lucas and Attack of the Clones have taught us anything, it’s that story and dialogues matters. Although I would like the Atom to have a kind of “throwback appeal” to the days when comic books had a softer side (like Sam Raimi’s original version of Spider-Man) there’s no doubt Hollywood feels the need to appeal to a new generation of audience members with shorter attention spans.
But the reason for the success of the first Iron Man (other than brilliantly casting Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark) was that the film was faithful to the original premise of the comic book and character. Sure, it was tweaked a little to bring it into the 21st century but without altering the overall intent of the original version. You need to follow the same road map with the Atom.
Even if the screenwriter needs to go to the Pop Culture Library at Bowling Green State University and immerse themselves in “all things Atom” until the spring thaw in Northwest Ohio, then that is what needs to be done to give the smallest hero of the DC Comics universe the SHOWCASE he ultimately deserves in Hollywood.
That is the way I would do it, if this was my DC Universe.Powered by Sidelines