Last Spring, it was reported that 20th Century Fox is working on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen reboot with producer John Davis. It is being written by Jayson Rothwell and based on the graphic novels with the same title, created by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill.
The original live-action movie, inspired by the comic book series, was a failure in 2003. It was the last feature film both lead actor Sean Connery and director Stephen Norrington (Blade) have worked on, and it was also the last adaptation Alan Moore has accepted official credits and licensing fees for – except for one episode of the Justice League animated series. It was that bad.
In 2013 Fox ordered a TV pilot that didn’t get picked up. This time they have the opportunity to make it right.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has been described as a “group of British citizen and colonial secret agents, employed by the British Government until the mid-20th Century, that serves to protect England from threats, both normal and paranormal”. Based on this premise and taking the first movie as a reference (not the best, but the one with the most iconic characters), I have tried to find a new cast for the upcoming reboot.
Much like Penny Dreadful came together, in 2003’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen all the chosen main characters were some of the best known British literary characters that appeared in the graphic novels. Two of them weren’t explicitly part of the League, but were mentioned, appeared or had a connection with other characters in some way. Here are my picks:
Allan Quatermain – Hugo Weaving
We know Weaving from some of the most classic movie franchises of all time, like Matrix and Lord of the Rings. Quatermain is part of three iterations of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and thus one of the most important characters. Created by H. Rider Haggard, he was the protagonist of King Solomon’s Mines (1885). Weaving would do him justice, with his big presence on screen and wise look.
Allan Quatermain Jr. – Nicholas Hoult
If the Pool of Fire played a part in the reboot, Quatermain would be able to become younger and immortal when he bathed in this fountain of youth. This could be connected to Ayesha as a villain (see below). Nicholas Hoult has proved himself to be a very decent actor, both in drama and comedy, and I can kind of see a physical similarity with Hugo Weaving. Can you?
Mina Murray/Harker – Haley Atwell
Easier choice for me. Atwell is perfect to play the intelligent woman who was turned into a vampire by none other than Count Dracula. Mina is the leader of all the League groups she’s a member of and has a personal story that allows for several different storylines to develop. In the 2003 film she was also a chemist and set in a love/hate relationship with Dorian Gray. In the comic books she’s often paired off with Allan Quatermain. I’d say she’s a powerful enough character to stand on her own this time.
Captain Nemo – Naveen Andrews
Also called Prince Dakkar, he’s an Indian pirate. He owns the Nautilus, an advanced and enormous submarine. Andrews is mostly known for his role of Sayid in Lost, for what he was nominated for both an Emmy and Golden Globe. Captain Nemo is described as being old, so Ben Kingsley could also be a good option, if not a little bit too obvious.
Hawley Griffin (The Invisible Man) – Alan Tudyk
Here’s something interesting: producers of the 2003 film weren’t able to acquire the rights to the H.G. Wells’ created character that appears in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novels. Instead, they came up with Rodney Skinner, a mischievous thief who stole the invisibility formula from Dr. Griffin. Though in the movie they didn’t go as obscure as in the comics, where he was a known rapist. I’m not usually on board with Americans faking a British accent or viceversa because it usually sounds wrong to me, but I’m sure Tudyk could pull it off, no sweat. After his work in A Knight’s Tale, with the kind of playful, naughty humor he conveys, I’d vouch for him.
Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde – Matthew Goode
We all know who this classic character is. Matthew Goode was seen recently in The Imitation Game and Stoker. He has an unassuming look that I believe would work for Dr. Jekyll. In the original movie they made Hyde a giant, muscular, ugly man with a regular-sized head. The concept for the monster would have to be developed a bit more.
Dorian Gray – Douglas Booth
Eternally young Dorian Gray is one of the most romantic victorian characters to appear in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. He’s not a part of the League in the comics, but his portrait appears in one of the illustrations, leading fans to speculate about his involvement in an implicit mid-19th Century team. Booth, with longer hair, would make for a good looking Dorian Gray. He last worked in Aronofky’s Noah and The Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending.
M/James Moriarty – Mark Strong
Sherlock Holmes most known nemesis is one of the main villains in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novels and in the original movie. I’d only include him as a side character or not at all, but I still think Mark Strong makes for a great British villain. He’s often typecast for this, and rightly so.
Sawyer was a reason for controversy when he was added to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in 2003’s adaptation. There are only a few references about him in the comic books, but was never part of any of the teams assembled throughout the years. In the movie, he’s an American Secret Service Agent who becomes Quatermain’s apprentice. I doubt they’d want to add him in the reboot (and I would agree with that decision), so I decided not to cast him.
John Davis also mentioned a female-centric new movie and – contrary to what Collider thinks – there are plenty of interesting female characters in the graphic novels to choose from, some of whom include:
– Janni Dakkar: Captain Nemo’s daughter, who takes over the Nautilus after his death. Archie Panjabi could play this character. She is a British-Indian actress seen in The Good Wife and Bend It Like Beckham. Her work has been recognized by the New York Times Magazine and Variety.
– Orlando: “Immortal warrior and adventurer who changes sex involuntarily as the years pass.” I’d say Emily Mortimer (Shutter Island, The Newsroom) could play the female version.
– Ayesha: Immortal Egyptian Queen. Janni Dakar steals her treasure in one of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen side stories. I vote for this storyline, including the Pool of Fire to feature in the new female-centric reboot. Who do you think could play Ayesha?
I find this literary Avengers-type of stories very interesting and if done right I’m sure the new reboot can be a hit. I like to think that Kenneth Branagh would be interested in directing, too.
They might also think about introducing new characters related to the existing ones, like maybe Irene Adler, the only woman to outwit Sherlock Holmes, or unrelated, like Becky Sharp from Shakespeare’s Vanity Fair, a fierce self-taught social climber often described as an anti-hero. Would that go over well, though? We’ll have to wait and see.
Who would you like to see in the new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?