The Casting Call feature I used to do on Shogun Gamer was rooted in something that was slightly common among gaming sites. However, with my take I always wanted to do something a tad more different and in this case it was to provide some actual thought and detail into my casting choices rather than do a simple image slideshow.
I still think I have a few of these left in me to do since this and my Metal Gear Solid Casting Call, which I’ll post shortly, were rather well received.
Original article follows below.
Movies based on video games tend to have a bad history for one reason or another. While we may not have received a film creator that’s so delusional that he wants to radically change the origin of a video game property similar to Michael Bay making the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into aliens, we simply have received video game films that aren’t as epic as they could be. The Tomb Raider films are perfect examples of a concept that would’ve worked wonderfully as a film but for one reason or another we received not just one but two films that in some ways did justice to the source material yet didn’t reach the scope found in the games or give us something that could even be looked at as a good alternative to the Indiana Jones films.
With all the bad video game films we’ve received there are still games out there that would be perfect as movies if pulled off properly. One video game franchise that has always seemed like it would be a good fit to become a movie is God of War. With the inspiration behind the game being the old fantasy flicks of yesteryear, the God of War games have consistently had a scope to them that would make for a breathtaking movie if one were to ever be created for it. Things such as the Titans attack on Olympus or Kratos’ final showdown with Zeus would make for an unbelievable film if tangible elements are added like actual actors, partial sets, and advanced visual effects.
Since “Wrath of the Titans” is coming out in theaters this week I thought it would be fitting to look at the potential behind a God of War movie and which actors would be perfect for it. To some people both “Clash of the Titans” (the 2010 remake) and “Wrath of the Titans” are the closest we’ll get to a God of War movie but in my mind there’s so much more that can be done through offering deeper Greek mythology elements and just being a kick-ass movie with insane set piece moments. The sad thing is that Universal Pictures had the rights to do a God of War movie (it’s unknown if the rights have reverted back to Sony) and they simply sat on the property after once thinking about having Bret Ratner (X-Men 3, Rush Hour) direct the flick. I think we may have all dodged a bullet though since the direction Universal has gone in with their film properties has been a bit dire as “Battleship” looks fun for all the wrong reasons (it’s so dumb it’s awesome).
I think if a God of War movie was to ever happen it would have to be rated R to keep the things people like so much about the series: intense action that isn’t restricted in any fashion. That element may be vital in making sure we don’t receive a film that shies away from the often brutal aspect that Greek mythology goes in, but the most important part would be to assemble a cast that not only fits the characters but would bring a level of depth to the film that in some eyes make it more than simply another video game film.
So being the God of War fan that I am I decided to do my best to cast a potential God of War film if such a thing were to ever happen. Based on how Sony Pictures haven’t pushed any of their PlayStation films into active development and Universal may still have the rights to the film we may never see a God of War film outside of the incredible cutscenes that are produced for the games but doing a dream casting call feature can’t hurt can it?
Tom Hardy as Kratos
Kratos is a character that has video game fans in two distinct camps: there are those that like him and those who think he does nothing but yell. Even though I’m a huge God of War fan I’ll say that Kratos does have some depth to him as he’s a flawed man whose quest for revenge ultimately got the best of him. But I can at least recognize the complaint that at times he does seem like a punk that does nothing but kill stuff and yell in the process.
I don’t think anything needs to be done to change Kratos as a character like adding an original character in the film to further humanize him, but the actor that portrays Kratos simply needs to be believable as a bona fide badass that is a soldier you don’t want to mess with. He may soon be the immediate “It” actor in Hollywood after “The Dark Knight Rises” is released, but even with all the hype pushed aside I think Tom Hardy would be a perfect fit as Kratos.
Hardy is still an actor that is slowly rising as a mainstream name, but his performances in films such as “Inception” and his incredible role in “Bronson” show that he has diverse range as an actor. His previous work and the brief snippets that have been shown of him in the role of Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises” once again show that he can be a foreboding badass that manages to let the role envelop him instead of being Tom Hardy as character Y.
Hardy’s general stature as an actor is one of confidence and that’s a key aspect of Kratos. Even when standing up against the Gods of Olympus or staring down a Titan Kratos is confident since he knows in the end it’ll be he that’s standing victorious. To a lot of God of War fans it’ll be hard to see a version of Kratos that doesn’t isn’t boasting the deep tambour of actor T.C Carson, but that aside I think Hardy would be able to put his own spin on the role and it not be too contrived or simply seem like a typical Greek warrior who just happens to wield blade gauntlets and have ash white skin.
If Hardy could combine the animalistic tendencies he showed in his performance as Bronson with the air of respect that a Spartan soldier such as Kratos has then I think a God of War movie could go in some interesting places that the video game series never went in. And no, I didn’t choose Tom Hardy as Kratos simply because he can bulk up incredibly fast and looks decent with a shaved head.
Gerard Butler as Zeus
Any film will succeed or fail based on who the antagonist is. A good film may be able to skate by with a protagonist that can stand his ground and is likeable, but all the great films out there whether it’s action fair like the original Die Hard or more dramatic films have been great films since they had a foil that really added an element to the film that made it well rounded and that much more enjoyable.
There are certainly a lot of ways the God of War movie could go when it comes to choosing the villain as it could either be Ares, more on that casting choice later, or some random Greek mythology baddy merely chosen in a haphazard style to fit whatever limits the film could have. Hell, I shudder to think if a God of War film would be saddled with an “Unleash the Kraken” moment as the grand finale merely because “Clash of the Titans” proved audiences enjoyed such a thing. But in a perfect scenario, and in order to stay true to the games, Zeus would be the big baddie in the end since we all know there’s lots of bad blood and daddy issues between he and Kratos.
For a character as powerful and iconic as Zeus an actor needs to be chosen that not only has the gravitas to portray the King of the Gods but in the case of God of War also appear as an overly buff geezer with a long beard and flowing white hair. In order to hit the core points of Zeus as portrayed in the God of War games I think Gerard Butler would be the perfect choice.
To many of us Gerard may still be King Leonidas, but the man can act as seen as his role in “Machinegun Preacher” so he definitely has some dramatic chops. I don’t think Gerard would look silly wearing a revealing toga and having a white beard, or at least he wouldn’t look as silly as other actors so with the acting skill and attitude Gerard exudes I think he would be a nice fit for Zeus. Gerard may not be that old compared to how Zeus is a powerful geezer, but I think with a bit of make-up applied and good old fashioned suspension of disbelief the casting would work. More importantly, as we saw in 300 Gerard has a level of believable physicality to him that I think would be key to portray in the more action oriented moments Zeus has, whether it’s stabbing Kratos with a massive sword or going toe-to-toe with him as Mount Olympus is about to crumble.
Hayley Atwell as Athena
Her presence in the games may not have been constant as other characters, but Athena is pivotal to the arching God of War mythos so it would be mandatory for her to make an appearance in a God of War film. Personally I was a bit turned off by how “Clash of the Titans” portrayed its female characters as they were basically helpless or went the cliché “I’m here to help you but then I’m going to fall in love with you” angle that we’ve seen dozens of times in other action movies. Obviously Athena hasn’t been depicted in the God of War games as a would-be love interest for Kratos but knowing Hollywood I wouldn’t be surprised if such a thing may be twisted in that direction.
What is important about Athena is that a strong actress would be cast to portray her and I think Hayley Atwell would be more than perfect for that. Known the most for her role as Peggy Carter in “Captain America: The First Avenger”, Hayley is a rising British actress that not only is a looker but she has true acting talent. As I said Athena’s actual roles in the God of War games may have been limited as she merely appeared in statue form to give Kratos a warning or a small talking to, but I have a feeling that if such a thing would be translated into an actual film Hayley would be able to make each encounter memorable or stick out among viewers.
If we were to get lucky and see Athena receive a bigger role in a God of War movie, possibly with action or simply more inner-God drama, Hayley would again likely be believable in the role and capable of providing a performance that has depth to it and simply isn’t yet another dull performance by an actor that doesn’t believe in what they’re trying to portray.
Ray Stevenson as Ares
In the mythos of God of War Ares is by far one of the most important figures in the series. If it wasn’t for Ares’ rescue of Kratos on the battlefield the legendary Spartan warrior would’ve never become known as the Ghost of Sparta and in turn none of the Greek gods would’ve received a legendary ass whupping at the hands of a pissed off Kratos. With a God of War movie a lot of different angles could be taken in respect to the plot as it simply could be a simple outline of presenting Zeus as the main baddie with other gods essentially being sub-bosses with next to no character provided before they meet an untimely demise at the hands of Kratos. But in a perfect world Ares would be the main villain in the first God of War movie and I think Ray Stevenson would be a perfect fit.
Some of you may be familiar with Ray’s work as an actor in projects such as “Thor” and even in my previous casting call features since I selected him to portray Barry Burton in Resident Evil: Retribution. Ray may not be a mega name actor that would bring in an epic audience in a God of War movie but he’s a fine actor that would bring the required attitude in conveying the brutal nature of Ares and how he simply doesn’t give a crap most of the time.
Ares didn’t get much of a spotlight in the first God of War game aside from squishing people when he was in Godzilla mode and then going all epic boom at the end, but with a bit of depth added via the plot and the mere talents of Ray as an actor I think we would have a primary villain that is a good foil for Kratos – both physically and psychology as well since Ares needs to have the arrogant attitude that’s fitting of the man who oversees all the war that’s to be had in the world.
Dominic Cooper as Poseidon
If a God of War movie needs to be pumped up a bit with an extra appearance by a god or two to present an action sequence or merely to provide a back and forth for scenes in which gods squabble with one another it would make sense to have Poseidon in the mix. As the brother of Zeus and one of the most powerful gods, Poseidon never had a major presence in the God of War series until the third entry, but with a bit of beefing up the god of the seas could make a sizeable impact in a God of War movie.
Since Poseidon may be a small character in a God of War movie compared to Kratos and Ares, it’s still important to have an actor in the role that would be memorable and simply have the right look for the role. Based on how he appeared in GOW3, I think British actor Dominic Cooper would be a solid Poseidon. Best known for appearing in an array of films ranging from “An Education”, “Captain America: The First Avenger”, and the forthcoming “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”, Dominic doesn’t mind doing pure drama roles and those that take place within an absolute fantasy world filled with action.
Dominic knows how to perfectly balance elements of the characters he portrays, whether it’s turning the charm on as Howard Stark or being slightly cocky yet likeable in other roles when it’s suitable. That style of layered and nuanced acting would be perfect for a character such as Poseidon so that he doesn’t end up being a one dimensional villain or again just like Ares doesn’t end up being a simple boss character that has next to no screen time until the grand finale.
The key thing that needs to be found in all the actors who portray gods in God of War is that they know how to be badasses that have this constant “I’m a boss who will ruin you” attitude throughout otherwise they’ll just seem like regular people who are simply dressed better. With the notes that Dominic is able to hit as an actor I’m sure he would give us the perfect performance as Poseidon and would probably turn in a killer death cry if Kratos vanquishes the god of the sea as he did in GOW3.
At this point I don’t know if a God of War movie will ever happen considering that it’s nearly been a decade since the series’ first debuted. There’s never an expiration date as to when a film adaptation of a video game needs to be released, but seeing as how there could be issues regarding the rights of the movie, I sadly doubt we’ll see the world of Kratos brought to life in stunning detail. That’s of course unless “Wrath of the Titans” does gangbusters business at the box office this weekend and that prompts either Universal or Sony to fast track a God of War movie.
Given how epic the games can be I think we can rest easy in knowing that we’re bound to receive epic action with each new entry in the series, but for me it would be amazing to see the world of Kratos come to life with an even bigger scope and cutting-edge special effects created by a studio like ILM, WETA, or Digital Domain.
Let us know what you think of my God of War casting choices in the comments section or if you think another actor would be better suited for a particular character just let us know who your pick would be.
Originally posted on March 28, 2012