Welcome to Cast Party, the feature that imagines a world with even more live action comic book adaptations than we currently have, and comes up with arguably the best casting suggestions you’re ever going to find for the movies and shows we wish could exist.

This week we're turning to one of my very favorite comics of the '90s: Sandman Mystery Theatre. The original creative team was Matt Wagner and Guy Davis, taking inspiration from the original Sandman comics by Gardner Fox and Bert Christman. There's a new collection out of the first 12 issues, so this seems like the perfect time to revisit it.

Sandman Mystery Theatre is half Golden Age revival, half spinoff of Neil Gaiman's Sandman, and 100% homage to the crime stories of the 1930s. It focuses on Wesley Dodds, a wealthy intellectual who's spurred on by his dreams to fight crime in a trench coat and gas mask as the Sandman. The female lead is Dian Belmont, Wesley's love interest, but also very much his equal. She has her own investigative inclinations, and soon learns Wesley's secret and begins to help the Sandman in his struggles against the underworld.

This should be a feature-length movie, but I think it would work best on TV, specifically a premium network or streaming service. It should be the first of a regular series, each following one of the tightly paced storylines from the comic. This first movie covers "The Tarantula," a tale of kidnapping, murder, and the sinister Goldman family, a wealthy clan with something rotten at its heart.

  • Mark Ruffalo as Wesley Dodds

    Vertigo/Paramount

    The thing about Wesley Dodds is that he's not a typical square-jawed superhero. He's rumpled and awkward, but still charismatic. Ruffalo has made his career by perfectly balancing those three traits.

  • June Diane Raphael as Dian Belmont

    Vertigo/Netflix

    Thanks to Guy Davis's art, my top priority for Dian is that she has to have a unique and incredibly expressive face. Raphael has that face in spades.

  • Brian Cox as Larry Belmont

    Vertigo/NBC

    Cox is great at the kind of exhausted competence that defines Dian's district attorney father.

  • Thomas Jane as Lieutenant Burke

    Vertigo/Syfy

    In a way, Detective Burke is the square-jawed hero that Wesley is not, which makes him the perfect foil for the Sandman. Also Jane will look great with that mustache.

  • Tom Wilkinson as Humphries

    Vertigo/IFC

    I know you're above this Tom, but sooner or later every aging British character actor has to do their turn as a butler. That's just how it works.

  • Billie Piper as Catherine Van Der Meer

    Vertigo/Showtime

    Piper brings so much to every project she's a part of, and she can more than handle everything that Catherine goes through in this story.

  • Alec Baldwin as Albert Goldman

    Vertigo/Village Roadshow

    Baldwin has coasted for years now on his likably smug "Jack Donaghy" persona, but this will give him a chance to flex his acting muscles as someone truly nasty.

  • Kathleen Turner as Miriam Goldman

    Vertigo/Hulu

    Miriam seems like an inconsequential alcoholic at first, but there's a lot more going on than that. It's exactly the sort of role Turner has always been great at.

  • Alexandra Daddario as Celia Goldman

    Vertigo/ABC

    Celia is trouble, but in a family like hers it's hardly her fault. Daddario is great at this sort of thing, plus she has those freaky Meg Foster eyes.

  • Jonah Hill as Roger Goldman

    Vertigo/Columbia

    Roger's a loser who turns out to be more dangerous than anyone realized, which is the sort of interesting turn I'd like to see from Hill at this point in his career.