Monday, September 13, 2010

Wishful Casting: Generation X TV Show Edition

Generation X was always something that held a special place in my heart; it drew me into the Marvel Universe right before they launched their epic alternate universe storyline ‘The Age of Apocalypse’ which was just fantastic beyond words. I loved the series so much it was always on my monthly lists of pick ups at the comic book store. Recently I’ve had the urge to go back and watch the made for TV Generation X movie that was done back in the 90’s and in my quest to obtain a copy of it I learned that it was originally intended as a two hour pilot for a potential TV series.

Back in the 90’s super hero/comic book TV shows were around but the quality of them simply can’t hold a candle to the comic book based shows of today, the special effects and graphical capabilities simply didn’t exist back then. So long story short, it got me thinking about what a Generation X TV show would be like today. There would still be some CGI issues, especially with the cost of having to do specific characters on a regular basis as well as plot issues because so much has happened not only over the course of Generation X’s run, but since the series ended.

I want to keep this Wishful Casting as close to the original cast line up as possible, but I did do some adding of characters and blurring of plotlines to deliver the most bang for the buck.


Emma is possibly one of the toughest character to cast for this because of the massive amount of history she has on top of the fact that she gets the shaft in almost every movie/TV incarnation of X-Men so far including the upcoming X-Men: First Class. I mean January Jones? Seriously? There were a few actresses that came to mind, but I didn’t want to go with an actress that was ‘old;’ granted Emma needs to be older than anyone else, but she can’t be so much older that she becomes irrelevant to the series. I’m not a fan of the ‘good girl’ Emma which works better because there was much more bad-ass-ery to Emma in her Gen X days, perfect combo of Hellfire Club Emma and ‘good’ Emma. There’s a lot they could do with her character, but they need to stick with the basics: still getting over the loss of her Hellions, still not fully trusted by the X-Men yet the most trustworthy (in Xavier’s eyes) to train the next generation of X-Men and ultimately killing her own sister because her actions led to the death of another one of Emma’s students.

In the end I decided to go with Tabrett Bethell as Emma. There needs to be a bad-ass HBIC quality to Emma and that was something Tabrett did very well as Cara on the now (far too short lived) canceled Legend of the Seeker. Visually she looks like Emma, plus Cara’s Mord Sith outfit is basically the red leather version of what network standards would allow for Emma’s outfit. I think it would be a good fit because Cara and Emma and their storylines are similar, but honestly if it were humanly possible I’d give all the female roles to Tabrett just to see more of her on my screen.

Alright here’s the WTF moment times two. The ‘Banshee’ character should be Sean Cassidy because in the history it’s Sean and Emma who rescue the kids from the Phalanx and were the headmasters of the school. However the more I thought about it the less I could think of any potential plot he could have. Given that it’s a TV show there would be the desire to pair off characters romantically, and I never would have bought into a relationship between Sean and Emma so that was another reason to use his daughter Theresa instead of Sean. So in theory this series would take place after Sean died because it would provide a massive amount of potential for drama and plots if Theresa was the co-headmaster with Emma. Think about it, she would be bitter and in mourning over the fact that her father sacrificed himself because of Xavier’s dream and she’d be forced to work with someone who up until this point had been one of the X-Men’s greatest villains who is coming off of a history of having the children she teaches/mentors dying.

Okay honestly, part of why I didn’t use Sean was because I couldn’t think of an actor who would fit the character at all; it was easier for me to think up someone who could play his daughter. Now for the second WTF moment… yes I know Sean, Tom and Theresa are all Irish, and that the banshee is Irish and that I picked Karen who happens to be Scottish to play Theresa. I picked Karen for a couple of reasons, mostly because I absolutely fell head over heels in love with the girl on Doctor Who (which is saying a lot considering I’m still not over Billie Piper leaving the show and I’m not over Rose being gone – so naturally I didn’t think I’d be over David leaving Doctor Who but that’s going to be another post at some point) but she’s also a good actress and has proven that she can keep up with the demands of genre TV.


Jono was a character that was left out of the early 90’s movie because it would have been too expensive to have the character around because of the massive amount of CGI it would take to pull him off. There are ways around that now, or it would be possible to even limit the amount of times he uses his powers with out having to make super cheesey effects because they’re cheaper to do. He was introduced in the first issue of Generation X and given the extent of his physical deformities he was even more of an outcast within the group. For a while the only friend he had within the team was Penance (who I’ll get to later) but she would be impossible to do given the extent of CGI she would require. It would be interesting with my pick for Siryn, being here with massive issues of her own; and Jono to play off of each other. She’s the bitter girl in mourning and he’s a damaged man who has to look at a woman who also has ‘throat based powers’ have a more normal life than him. Of course you can’t do Generation X without the Jono/Paige ship so he’s a staple.

My pick for him is a bit of an odd one, though not as odd as casting a Scottish actress to play an Irish character… but I decided to go with Aidan Turner from BBC’s show Being Human. There’s not that many people out there that could pull off a role like Jono and Aidan can, it also helps that from the nose up the two are almost identical. I could easily see Jono as a character that could lean a little bit more to the older set simply because it would be difficult to tell his age due to Jono’s disfigurement add to that the fact that he didn’t have a mutation that he could even attempt to hide in real life it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch for a 19-27 year old(ish) to still be involved with school. The only obstacle to this though would be that Paige would HAVE to be 18 years old in order to even touch on their romance.

Given how Generation X started you simply cannot have the series without Jubilee in it. Sean noticed how she wasn’t fitting in with the X-Men, she was targeted by the Phalanx; she has history coming out the wazoo (where ever that is.) She has always been the go to character when it comes to connecting the ‘younger’ set to the well established X-Men Universe. She was the launching point of the X-Men animated series in the 90’s and played a huge role in the Generation X pilot, she was featured in X-Men: Evolution (more as fan-service than anything but it still counts) she had bit roles in the X-Men movies, and she’s a way to justify shoe-horning Wolverine in to anything she’s an incarnation of. If they could do her powers with the CGI back in the 90’s imagine what they could do with them today!

The problem comes with casting her though. The character is a Chinese American, yet half the time she’s cast with a Caucasian actress and that is almost always a source of contention when it comes to the fans. Honestly I couldn’t really think of a Chinese, or Chinese American actress out there today that could fit the age range of the character, so I had to base this casting strictly off of personality and how she would look physically (not racially) given the extent of her history. I mean for crying out loud she was friends with Magik back in the 80s, she was a ‘teenager’ back when the X-Men were in Australia, she was around for the Goblin Queen/Inferno era/saga, and Madelyne Pryor’s kid (in any reality) from that time frame has never been shown as anything younger than 25, so technically Jubilee should be *OLDER* than Nate. But that wouldn’t work. So much like the casting of Jono, Jubilee must be age ambiguous. I went with Allison Scagliotti from Warehouse 13 for this. Her character Claudia is a smart ass, mall-rat type character who is too quick witted yet self-conscious for her own good. That’s how I picture Jubilee.

Paige is almost as important to the mythos as Jubilee was because of how she was introduced and the connection she had to Jono as well as her obvious connection to her brother Sam/Cannonball. She was one of the characters who ended up being ‘altered’ in order to fit the budget of the Generation X movie. Back then it would have been to expensive to have a character around that could shed her skin and alter her form to suit whatever needs she had at the time. Instead they used a character who had super strength and body issues to fill the void of being able to do a straight up copy of Husk. The funny thing about Paige is she has a rich history with Sam and the rest of her siblings, yet they have that with Jubilee and her connections, she’s not as strong or as smart as Monet but she’s the classic bookworm who wants to learn. There’s the obvious romantic pairing that would happen between Paige and Jono, but beyond that there’s an aura of vagueness about her that could lead to limitless plots.

Alona Tal was one of the few actresses in the age bracket that came to mind. It was more of a process of elimination but ultimately it was her recurring role on Supernatural that clenched it for me. Desire to be just like her family and be ‘in the family business’ check, needing to constantly evolve in the situations that most people don’t know exist, check; innocent yet deadly, check. Not to mention that Paige’s story arch in the Age of Apocalypse, and the final scene she had in Generation Next (the name given to Generation X while under the Age of Apocalypse plot) is quite possibly the most powerful moment for me in that entire alternate universe and Alona proved she could pull something like that off with the last episode of Supernatural her character was in.

Okay Laura is filling the role of Penance here for many reasons. First off it would be easier to work around Laura’s healing factor and her claws than it would be to deal with Penance’s razor sharp bright red body with long spiked red hair running around wearing nothing more than a bunch of black leather straps. She would need to be almost entirely CGI all the time and that would be far too costly. So I chose to sub in Laura for cost but it would also provide a lot more plot points to have a rivalry between Laura and Jubilee because of their mutual Wolverine connections.

For casting I decided to go with Nina Dobrev. She obviously looks an awful lot like Laura but her recent turn playing the evil and twisted vampire Katharine on The Vampire Diaries gives me hope that she could pull something like X-23 off. At the very least we know she can to tragic and tortured very well, so there’s always that.

Synch is the type of character that would be the easiest to include because his mutation allows him to duplicate mutant powers. So that means that if they can pull off the CGI for any given mutant powers than they can do it for Everett too. While I was never a fan of his character, he was way too under used and kind of pointless given the other members of the team, and I never bought into the whole romance between him and Monet; he ended up becoming very important because his death (the events of which were triggered by Emma’s sister Adrienne) made a massive impact on every member of the team and Emma’s willingness to murder her own sister to avenge her student led to the team’s ultimate dismemberment. It’s weird though, he has to be included because he sort of has to die at some point.

For casting him I tried to be fair with who I would have playing Everett, it had to be someone that could pull it off, yet someone who would almost be expendable. There were a few people that came to mind, but they would have skewed the character a little bit too old to fit in with the bunch so I eventually settled on Sam Jones III. He’s got experience with the whole superhero thing from his years as Pete Ross on Smallville, which also makes him no stranger to genre TV that relies heavily on green screens and CGI.

If you think Monet Yvette Clarisse Maria Therese St. Croix's name is long and confusing wait until you get into her history. She was practically a dozen characters. There was the Monet we met with the Phalanx storyline, who had super strength, telepathy, flight, speed, agility, endurance, invulnerability, night vision, and superhuman intelligence for her powers. Also she appeared to have a form of Autism. Then they form Generation X and Penance crashes the joint. It turns out later that ‘Monet’ is actually Penance and the girl who was Monet were her younger twin sisters Claudette and Nicole who ended up merging to become Monet only to eventually switch bodies and become Penance while Monet got her life back. Then there’s M-Plate, which is like an evil version of the M Twins and when they get their bodies back Penance doesn’t vanish she’s got a personality and conscious of her own. So you’ve got 3 versions of Monet, 3 versions of Penance, the individual M Twins and then M-Plate. It’s way too confusing. Thankfully with removing Penance from the mix you can clear a lot of this up and just have Monet be the girl with all the powers from an aristocratic background who is used to having everything handed to her having to ‘slum’ it up with characters like Paige, Jono, Angelo and Jubilee.

Despite the overtly complex history and shoehorning in of almost everything and anything any writer that touches her can think of she was actually the easiest for me to cast. The only person that came to mind was Greek’s Amber Stevens. She’s been playing the sort of stuck up and snobby girl who you’re supposed to hate for her personality yet you can’t because she’s so sweet with everything she does for over four seasons now, throw in some superpowers and throw her in some high end clothing and you’ve got Monet St. Croix in a nutshell.

Skin was sort of a victim of the Generation X movie, while his powers weren’t bastardized like Paige; or elements removed like Monet there just simply wasn’t enough going on with him to make a big mark. It doesn’t help that they didn’t give him the same skin tone like he has in the comics, but at least they didn’t change his racial background like they did with Jubilee. He basically has an extra six feet of elastic skin that he manipulates to ‘look like normal features’ or stretch into things; so essentially he’s a giant rubber band.

Casting Angelo was problematic because much like Synch he’s a character who is destined to die. So what do you do? Do you cast someone who is unlikeable and it you can’t help but wait for them to die; do you cast someone who is so likeable that you desperately hope that the writers will decide to ignore the fact that the character’s ultimate fate is to be crucified and then his body was dug up and removed from his grave because the cemetery wouldn’t allow him to stay there because he was a mutant? Or do you cast someone who you hope the writers won’t kill off, but you can’t help but be deeply moved by the actor’s portrayal of Angelo’s death scene if they decide to go that way? I went with the third option so that’s why I landed on using Diego Luna.

Okay, I’ll be honest I threw in Hellion because he’s quite possibly my favorite new character introduced to the X-Universe in the past 10 years. But this is how I’m justifying it… the Generation X team has always been stacked with females, case in point: Blink (she counts.. don’t tell me she doesn’t) Penance/M Twins/FauxMonet, M, White Queen, Husk, Jubilee, Gaia and Adrienne ran the school for a while – so that’s 8 females. The men just had Synch, Skin, Banshee and Chamber and out of the 4 of them 3 are dead. The team needs more guys. On top of that Hellion was Emma’s student, he took the codename of her fallen team, and then you add in the tragic factor he has – almost had his heart cut out by Lady Deathstrike and ended up having his hands cut off, he fits right in with the guys if you look at it that way. Plus Julian and Laura kind of go hand in hand.

I decided to go with Justin Chatwin for this particular character. He has proven many times that he’s good at pulling off the sarcastic jackass you can’t help but like, and lets face it… he owes the world a decent genre/superhero portrayal after having to suffer through the horrible writing that was the live action Dragonball movie.

I picked Josh to round out the team because a) it needed more males and b) given the fact that the team is so inexperienced as a whole and the fact that Emma is coming off of running a school and loosing all of her previous students and Generation X itself starting off with the death of Blink it would make sense to me that Emma would want a healer on the team. Naturally as the series progresses I could see them dealing with Josh discovering that he can also kill people with a touch and deal with the potential of him going ‘dark.’

I picked Marshall Allman because he’s no stranger to series TV given his stints on Prison Break and most recently True Blood. He’s sort of the ‘ohh that guy’ you’ve seen him before, even though you might not remember who he is.


I know historically Adrienne went by ‘White Queen’ (even though it was self dubbed) but Emma needs an ‘evil’ counterpart, so for this Adrienne is the Black Queen. My take on this would be that Adrienne is the bitter ‘forgotten’ Frost sister; she comes to Emma in need of help only to be turned down. I could see the fact that Emma is searching for redemption after the disaster of the Hellions (which for the plot would have been co-run by Adrienne) and her sort of looking down on her sister as motivation for Adrienne to create a group similar to Generation X but consisting of people that Emma ‘failed.’ It would be a way to try to tempt Laura, Julian and Josh and if they did kill off Everett they’d need Adrienne around for Emma to kill for revenge.

This one was hard and easy at the same time. You want someone who can pull off such a catty role but still be likeable even though you know if you turn your back on her she’ll kill you in a heartbeat. There are a few actresses who do well playing that type of role and not come off ‘diva’ like and even fewer who have the acting ability to play a character that could rival HBIC status with Emma Frost. I went with Erica Durance for this, she’s done great with Lois on Smallville which speaks volumes for her.

He would fit in perfectly with Adrienne’s ‘Anti-Emma’ team. He accidentally hurt a fellow student with his powers and a misunderstanding led to him thinking Julian and the rest of Emma’s students were turning on him. Plus he pretty much fit the bill when Selene recruited him for her team in the comics. On top of that there would always be the potential drama of him using his powers and killing one of his former friends, yet there would be no actual risk because it’s obvious he would always square off with either Elixir or X-23 and their powers would effectively cancel out his.

I couldn’t think of anyone for this other than Ben Barnes, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why. Kevin needs to be a dark character and honestly it was almost impossible for me to even find a picture of Ben without a giant grin plastered across his face. It would be interesting to see what Ben could do with a character so ‘dark.’

If Adrienne is gathering a team of people Emma failed then Blink has to be a staple of the team. I know between Wither and Blink it looks like I’m biting pretty heavy from Selene’s Inner Circle and the Necrosha plot line, but considering Blink’s death was the first major sacrifice that led to the formation of Generation X she needs to be one of the characters that gets included in the bunch. And it’s not like the character isn’t wildly popular, she was in only a handful of issues in the regular universe and she played a MASSIVE role in the entire Age of Apocalypse story line, had several spin off titles of her own and then was brought back into the main universe.

Blink was tough to cast for a reason, pre-GenX Clarice was a scared little girl who ultimately made the greatest sacrifice, in AoA you get a girl who while is still scared can more than hold her own against the likes of several heavy hitters in the X-Men universe, and then you get her return to this reality and she’s spent years being brutally tortured by her own powers only to be manipulated into believing that Emma abandoned her because her powers were too much of a threat. You need an actress who can play socially awkward, scared, innocent and it’s hard to find that (outside of Summer Glau) can also pull off a dark and twisted ruthless badass. I went with Alison Brie for this, she’s got the first half down and after her role in Born I want to see her turn out something twisted and evil.

Nate would be an easy fit into Adrienne’s team, not only would he be a counterpoint to Julian but the fact that Nate is the biological child of Jean Grey and Scott Summers gives him a bit more cred. The bitterness would come in from the same as his canon origin, being raised in the Age of Apocalypse alternate time line (where he dated Siryn might I add) only to survive that world’s destruction to come to this reality and find that Cable (the biological child of Scott and Madelyne Pryor) basically got the ‘better life.’ The fact that Nate’s power level rivals that of Phoenix it would be easy for Adrienne to manipulate Nate into moving against Emma because of her romantic involvement with Scott.

Why Chris Pine? Honestly I don't know. Nate (along with Hellion, Magik and Madelyne Pryor are my favorite characters in the X-Verse ever) was scary to cast because of how much I like the character. I didn't want to put certain people in there because I don't think they could take on the role and have it be appealing to the masses. I'll admit I have never seen a single thing Chris Pine has ever been in, but everyone seems to love him so if he could pull of Nate I'd be willing to watch his other works.

If torturing Emma is Adrienne’s game then she really needs access to The Stepford Cuckoos. It would be easy to spin Celeste Mindee and Phoebe turning to Adrienne after the deaths of Esme and Sophie if they were the only three survivors of the now dead Hellions. Another selling point to Adrienne using Emma’s artificially created ‘daughters’ would be that they each hold a shard of the Phoenix Force, between the three of them and Nate Grey it would make her team almost unstoppable if they all learned how to fully access their powers.

Why Dakota Fanning? Simple… she’s the new Christina Ricci, you look at the girl and you just expect the still picture of her to come to life and rip your soul out through your eyeballs, so can you imagine her playing FIVE characters who are genetic clones of the biggest bad girl this side of Dark Phoenix/Goblin Queen? Mm hmm, don’t tell me you can’t picture it.

Why the Darkchylde incarnation instead of Magik? Why Illyana at all – it’s simple: her connection to Jubilee. Add to that the fact that she was kidnapped as a child and raised in Hell only to return to earth and be corrupted by her magic and transform into Darkchyle only to be de-aged and later die of the Legacy virus. Years later the demon Belasco ‘recreated’ Magik but the partly demonic soulless creature disgusted him so he sent her away. She then brings members of the various younger X-Men squads to Limbo and begins rituals on the members that have magical abilities in order to remove their souls to give her back her own. In this version though I’d rather she not regain even a portion of her soul, let alone rejoin her former team. I like the character dark, soulless and bloodthirsty enough to be willing to sacrifice the souls of the people she once loved.

Now I know I’m going to catch a hell of a lot of heat for going with ‘a Disney girl’ for this one, but there’s just something about Ashley Tisdale that makes me want to see her do this. We know from her previous roles (even her new role on Hellcats) that she can be ‘the nice bitch’ but can she pull off something this dark and raunchy? I’d like to see her try (worst case scenario they could just kill her off or retcon her back into being 7 again.) Her powers though… that is a bit problematic, not the teleportation and ‘stepping discs’ or CGI-ing up Limbo and her Soulsword but the fact that this incarnation of Darkchylde runs around half naked with demonic horns coming out of her head, a pointed tail and goat legs ending in cloven feet. I’d say save that for the few times she goes full on demonic, but keep the horns when she’s ‘normal’ – they seem like they’d be the easiest to pull off and remain cost effective.

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