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 is inspired by my firm belief that there aren't enough sword and sandal movies being made anymore. With that in mind, let's imagine a film version of Warlord, Mike Grell's fantasy classic that ran from 1976 to 1989 at DC Comics.
Warlord is the story of Travis Morgan, an air force pilot who crashes his plane into the center of the Earth (or a dimensional portal, if you want the more modern, less Neal Adams take) and finds himself in Skartaris, a land of dinosaur-dragons, wizards, and warrior queens.
But this movie shouldn't be an origin story; leave that for flashbacks. Instead, it will focus on Morgan gathering his allies for a battle against the evil wizard Deimos. Along the way Morgan's friends Mariah and Machiste travel to the past to recruit the good wizard Mongo, and Morgan's daughter Jennifer, having arrived from Earth looking for her father, becomes the Sorceress Supreme of Skartaris.
I'd love to see this film directed by George Miller, who recently made a triumphant return to sci fi action with Mad Max: Fury Road.
Idris Elba as Travis Morgan
People want to cast Elba in everything these days, but I really think he's perfect to play the Warlord. He's fit, handsome, believably ex-military, old enough to have an adult daughter, and he can grow his own gray goatee (but it'll never be as white as comic-Morgan's). He can also turn on a dime from no-nonsense action guy to smiling charisma guy, which is a key Warlord skill.
Keke Palmer as Jennifer Morgan
Travis Morgan's daughter starts as a normal Earth girl, and becomes a wise-beyond-her-years sorceress. Palmer's talented enough to do both.
Mahershala Ali as Machiste
Ali's really made a name for himself recently in House of Cards and the Hunger Games movies. He might even be good enough to make Machiste's weird headpiece work on screen.
Q's done her share of action, and she's even voiced Wonder Woman. In other words, she'll be perfect as the Warrior Queen of Shamballah, and Travis Morgan's love interest.
I've said before that it takes a dancer to play a cat person, and I stand by that. Plus, Ariana already wears cat ears, so this part's right up her alley. Of course, there might be pressure to change the character's name, because of a certain other pop star...
Natalya Rudakova as Mariah Romanova
Rudakova hasn't had much to do since The Transporter 3, but she remains the obvious choice when you're looking for a beautiful Russian redhead who's comfortable in a lot of eye makeup.
Rostov is a Russian swordsman whose lycanthropy is affected by the weird cosmology of Skartaris, causing him to always be on the edge of becoming a werewolf. Rusev is a Bulgarian wrestler who already looks like he's part werewolf, and used to pretend to be Russian.
Who better to play a diminutive wizard than Willow Ufgood himself (aka Professor Flitwick).
Joe Manganiello as Deimos
I know how these things work; the costume designer is going to be tempted to abandon the halter top/loincloth ensemble Deimos wears in the comics, in favor of something with full coverage. With Manganiello in the role, they'll need to resist that urge.