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 departing from the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it, to imagine a whole new Hawkeye.
Jeremy Renner is wrong for this version of the character, and movie Hawkeye is a family man who lives in the country, not a New York loser who'd go to war over an apartment building. But the projects I describe in this column will never be made anyway, so we don't have to be constrained by the corners Marvel Studios has painted themselves into. This is our chance to envision a Netflix Hawkeye, with a new Clint (and also a totally different Madame Masque from the one on Agent Carter), and with every element as Fractionesque as possible.
Aaron Paul as Clint Barton
Forget Jeremy Renner; Paul is a born Hawkeye. He has this way, as amply demonstrated in Breaking Bad, of seeming like a very very intelligent guy who's simultaneously a complete idiot. That's Clint Barton.
Hayley Kiyoko as Kate Bishop
Kiyoko got her start at Disney and played Aja in that Jem and the Holograms movie that nobody saw. My favorite thing about her is her ability to react to things with only facial expressions. That's really important for Kate. It's also a skill that Aubrey Plaza has, and I know people are ready to tell me she's the only one for this role. But Plaza is in her 30s and only five years younger than Paul. In this story, Kate needs to be more of a kid than that, if only so that her maturity can be surprising.
Jim Gaffigan as Grills
Gaffigan is the middle-aged white schlub of the moment, and I feel like he can find the funny in the "Hawkguy" gag.
Big Show as Ivan
Ivan isn't drawn as a giant, exactly, but being big and intimidating is important for the character, and nobody's bigger than the Big Show. I don't know if he can do an accent, but I don't know that Ivan exactly needs a realistic accent. He mostly just says "bro" a lot.
Dominic Chianese as the Tracksuit Draculas' Boss
Keep in mind that Chianese is ten years older than he was in The Sopranos, even if I couldn't find a good recent photo. I like the irony of Dominic Chianese playing a non-Italian mobster, and I'm betting he still has the acting chops to pull it off.
Dan Stevens as the Clown
Man, this guy's creepy. Stevens is creepy too (witness The Guest). A perfect match.
Lily Cole as Penny
Cole is very striking in a unique way, and I feel like Penny needs that quality that makes Clint take such an immediate interest, even when she's so clearly trouble.
Megan Fox as Whitney Frost
The impression you get from Kate's interactions with her is that Madame Masque (unmasked) is so pretty that she doesn't quite look like a real person. There's nobody better for that than Fox.
Joaquin Phoenix as Harold H. Harold
It's impossible to cast the Elliott Gould of forty years ago (and 2016 Gould isn't right for the part), but I think Phoenix could do an interesting job being Gould-esque.
Samuel L. Jackson as Marcus
When you're casting a pulpy crime story, you can't go wrong with a small role for Jackson. This one will be a little different than he's used to, but I think he can handle it.
Reg E. Cathey as Finch
Having cast Marcus, I asked myself who could be the butch to Jackson's femme. Cathey is the clear answer, and he adds something special to every project he's in.
Bradley Cooper as Barney Barton
Barney's basically the worst brother ever, but he comes in search of redemption. Cooper has that roguish charisma that will keep the viewer from saying, "No Clint! Tell him to get lost!"