Disney's domination of the blockbuster landscape and the box office in recent years can often be attributed to the Star Wars and Marvel Cinematic Universe films. However, Disney is a many-tentacled beast, and the studio has also been positively killing it with its live action remakes of its classic animated films. One of the films that started this live action remake trend is 2014's Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie. Now, after several years, a sequel to that film is finally in motion and casting has begun. Taking on the role of the villain in the film looks to be none other than Deadpool's Ed Skrein.
Negotiations are still ongoing, but Ed Skrein is expected to land the villain role opposite Angelina Jolie's Maleficent and Elle Fanning's Aurora, both of whom are returning for the sequel. According to Variety, the details of Ed Skrein's villain are being kept under wraps for the time being. Audiences probably best know Ed Skrein as Ajax/Francis in Deadpool, but he also starred in The Transporter: Refueled and was the original actor to portray Daario Naharis on Game of Thrones. Later this year, Ed Skrein can be seen in Robert Rodriguez's romp through the uncanny valley, Alita: Battle Angel. He also made news last year when he voluntarily dropped out of a role in the new Hellboy movie after the backlash that his character was being whitewashed.
It is hard to evaluate this casting without knowing exactly who the character is that Ed Skrein will be playing, but given his past work, he is naturally suited to a character with a murky morality or one who is outright villainous. He can give off charm while also seeming dangerous and evil and hopefully he gets some fun scenery to chew in this sequel film. Taking on directing duties for Maleficent 2 is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales helmer Joachim Rønning, who seems to have a good relationship with Disney. This movie will be venturing beyond the original Sleeping Beauty tale, so there is pretty much an open canvas where the filmmakers could take this fantasy world. Part of that is casting fun, talented actors as new characters, and Ed Skrein certainly fits the bill.
The first Maleficent grossed $758 million worldwide, so it's not surprising that this sequel is finally moving forward, though it will be interesting to see how much interest and excitement there is for this sequel film. Of all of Disney's recent live-action remakes, Alice in Wonderland, its sequel and Maleficent are the least well-regarded critially. Despite Angelina Jolie being perfectly cast in the role, Maleficent received a fair bit of hate from purists who took umbrage with Disney's most iconic and fearsome villain being retconned and defanged into a misunderstood, but loving mother figure. With Ed Skrein being cast as the villain, it is pretty clear that Maleficent will continue on her heroic path in the sequel, probably never to return to her frightening roots.
Production on Maleficent 2 is set to begin sometime this year. Check out our guide to see all of Disney's upcoming live-action remakes (there's a lot of them), and for all the latest movie news, stay tuned to CinemaBlend.