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In a world in which superhero movie casting rumors are sometimes bigger news stories than casting confirmations, one actor has, seemingly, been eyed to play more comic book characters than any other: Zac Efron. The likes of Nightwing, Green Lantern, and plenty of Marvel characters as well have been become synonymous with his name in recent years, but he still has yet to join either the DC Universe or the MCU.
After getting his big break on Disney Channel’s smash hit High School Musical, the California-born actor seems to have been intent on making us forget about that with roles in Neighbors, Baywatch, or the Netflix Ted Bundy biopic. At 32 years old, Zac Efron does not necessarily need a comic book hit to maintain his reputation as a respected A-lister. However, why should that stop us from using our imaginations?
There are still plenty of beloved names from Marvel Comics that have yet to be introduced into the MCU and a good chunk of them would be the right fit for Zac Efron’s debut. These are just a few recommendations of ours for if and when he decides to make the leap.
Norrin Radd, better known to Marvel Comics readers as the Silver Surfer, first made his cinematic debut in a portrayal shared by the beloved Doug Jones’ motion capture performance and Oscar-nominee Laurence Fishburne’s impeccable voice. The movie, however, was the critically reviled 2007 sequel to Tim Story’s equally underwhelming Fantastic Four. Needless to say, this visually inventive fan favorite could use another shot at big screen glory and I think Zac Efron is worthy candidate for one particular reason.
In addition to his 13 Teen Choice Award wins, Zac Efron does actually know his way around a surfboard, having demonstrated his love for catching waves onscreen in Baywatch and for charitable causes at the Learn to Ride surfing day event organized by Oakley on Australia’s Bondi Beach in 2010. So, he’s certainly got the “Surfer” part down. As for the “Silver,” well, that’s nothing more performance capture cannot solve.
Speaking of comic book character with disappointing cinematic debuts, Taylor Kitsch played Remy LeBeau (or Gambit) in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which is widely considered the worst X-Men film ever made. A solo film focusing on the bio-kinetic Lousianian was later announced with Channing Tatum set to star, but that was in 2014 and the project has since been shelved after repeat delays. If the project were to go back into production for the MCU, why not bring in some new blood?
With the utmost respect to both Channing Tatum and Taylor Kitsch, Zac Efron might be a better fit to play Gambit than either of them, not just for his classic good looks and charming disposition, but for another hidden talent of his that would certainly come in handy. In addition to creating explosive energy from scratch, the mutant is also an excellent poker player, which is something he has in common with Efron, whom his Me and Orson Welles director Richard Linklater warns that no one should gamble with. Give the man a script and a deck a cards and he make the long-awaited Gambit movie happen.
In 2019, a Reddit user known as spideyvegas shared a poster of their own design for the upcoming third volume of the MCU’s Guardians of the Galaxy series that teased the idea of Zac Efron playing Adam Warlock, a legendarily powerful staple of Marvel’s more cosmic titles. Based on additional fan art inspired by the casting concept, I must say that the actor is kind of a dead ringer for the golden boy.
After he was teased in a mid-credits scene from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as a creation by Sovereign queen Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), fans speculated Adam Warlock would make an appearance in Avengers: Infinity War of Avengers: Endgame, given he was a crucial element of the comic book arc that inspired the films. For whenever the character does make his cinematic debut, fans seem to have taken a liking the idea of casting Zac Efron, so all Marvel has to do make a phone call. However, according to James Gunn, there is no guarantee that Adam will show up in his third installment.
James Gunn did, however, leave open the possibility to introduce another well-known hero of the cosmos in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Nova, the named Richard Rider dubbed himself after becoming the sole survivor of the Nova Corps and gaining the powers of his fallen brethren in the process, is a lone vigilante who travels the deep reaches of space in search for justice. The name was also brought up in connection to reports that Zac Efron was being eyed for the MCU, which was years ago, admittedly, but never say never.
I think it goes without saying that space sells in the movie industry, if the success of Guardians of the Galaxy and… well, much of every cosmic blockbuster ever made is any indication. Therefore, even if James Gunn’s Vol. 3 teasing proves to be nothing more than that, Nova could easily get butts in seats with a movie of his own, especially with a star as big as Zac Efron in the title role.
The one thing that that the aforementioned characters have in common is that they are relatively good-looking gents, which is clearly something Zac Efron could pull off. On the other hand, the MCU could also be the heartthrob’s chance to prove his range without the distractions of his appearance by taking on role that would require him to be butt-ugly, such as this badly scarred mercenary with a darkly sarcastic sense of humor and regenerative healing powers, much like Deadpool.
Agent X and the Merc with a Mouth have also crossed paths countless times in the comics, not always on the friendliest of terms, which already sounds like a wonderful recipe for another Deadpool movie. Plus, Zac Efron has cemented more than enough times that he possesses a fine-tuned comedic talent that could rival Ryan Reynolds, which is exactly what this very rivalry would need. However, just in case Deadpool 3 goes in an another direction, Agent X is not the only transformative Marvel character I have in mind for the actor.
Thanks to the Disney-Fox merger, fans have rejoiced at the potential for Marvel’s first superhero family to finally get a proper cinematic portrayal under the MCU umbrella, with many a casting rumor to follow, of course. Among these fan-powered casting calls, one well-known artist imagined Zac Efron as Johnny Storm (a.k.a. The Human Torch). While I think he would match the role just fine, the Fantastic Four character I envision him as is Ben Grimm, whom you might know better as The Thing.
When Ben, along with Reed Richards, Susan Storm, and Johnny Storm, was exposed to cosmic radiation aboard a ship during an interstellar flight, the accident turned his skin into a bright, orange mineral substance, along with an upgrade in strength, durability, and agelessness. For The Thing’s MCU debut, I would recommend reverting back to the method used by Michael Chiklis in the 2005 and 2007 films, meaning Zac Efron would have to get to use to a LOT of makeup and prosthetics. But, hey, whatever it takes to get into character, right?
What do you think? Is Zac Efron the right choice to play these Marvel favorites, or do you find my choices to be extremely wicked, shockingly evil, and vile? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for more updates on the actor’s many superhero casting considerations here on CinemaBlend.
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Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.