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I don't want to suggest anything bad about Jena Malone or Jamie Chung-- Malone has brought me many hours of joy with wry performances in movies like Saved! and Pride & Prejudice, and Chung... well, she had to suffer through a role in Dragonball: Evolution, so she deserves a break. But it feels a little fishy that the two of them have replaced Evan Rachel Wood and Emma Stone in the cast of Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch, given that it makes three actors who have replaced bigger names who dropped out due to "scheduling conflicts."

Remember that when the cast was announced before Watchmen, it was an all-star line-up including Stone, Wood, Amanda Seyfried, Abbie Cornish and Vanessa Hudgens. Now only those last two names remain, and it's probably no coincidence that neither of them are exactly on a career upswing-- Cornish never broke out beyond a second-tier indie darling, and Hudgens has struggled to find much to do beyond High School Musical.

So now Emily Browning, most recently of the godawful The Uninvited, has stepped in for Seyfried, and Malone and Chung will follow suit for Wood and Stone, respectively (according to Variety, at least). At least Chung's casting adds some more racial diversity to the largely white cast, but it's hard to deny that the current line-up is far from all-star. There's nothing wrong with throwing a bone to up and comers, of course, but this hardly seems like the cast Snyder envisioned from the start.

There seem to be a few possible explanations for what's going on here. First is that there genuinely were scheduling conflicts with the bigger actresses-- though you'd think that if this project seemed truly irresistible to them, they'd work it out. Second, they may have seen Watchmen or even read the Sucker Punch script and realized Snyder may not be all he's cracked up to be. Third, the studio may have cracked down on the budget, and told Snyder to go discount shopping for his cast.

It's worth remembering that Snyder has worked without big names on all of his previous projects, and generally used it to his advantage-- Billy Crudup created the character of Dr. Manhattan far better than, say, Arnold Schwarzenegger could have back in the 80s. All of these young women have every reason to work hard for these roles, and may end up creating iconic characters that would have been ruined by a bigger name. Or, y'know, the lack of stars could make the project a lot smaller and less notable than anyone would have wanted. It's up to you now to work with what you've got, Snyder.

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