There is at least one moment in each episode from Season 1 of Reacher when someone makes a comment about the title character’s imposing physicality. Of course, this is to be expected when you cast the 6’2” Alan Ritchson as a former Army major who was written by novelist Lee Child as a hulking badass in the first place. Other than furthering my confusion as to how Tom Cruise was cast as Jack Reacher first, this constant reminder of Ritchson’s impressive build had me wondering what role in any upcoming Marvel movies he might be eligible for.
Well, in short, there is an endless supply of Marvel characters he would perfectly embody, as far as I am concerned. Not only does he already have experience playing superheroes on two DC TV shows (Smallville as Aquaman, and Titans as Hawk), any fans of the sports comedy series Blue Mountain State know that he has nearly virtuosic range as a performer. Despite all the options I could have chosen from, I was able to narrow down my recommended casting options to five muscle-bound badasses, starting with one who is often considered to be Marvel’s equivalent to Superman.
You know, if not for his blonde hair and the fact that Henry Cavill was already the spitting image of Clark Kent, Alan Ritchson really would have made a stellar Superman. Well, if he was ever interested in making the transition to another comic book universe, I have the perfect option for him to also live out that opportunity in a sense.
Originally introduced to Marvel Comics as a villain, Hyperion was an infant when he became the lone survivor of a race of Eternals after he was sent from his dying planet to Earth, where he grew up to become a powerful vigilante whose sole weakness is “argonite radiation.” If anything, I would love for this character’s long-awaited Marvel Cinematic Universe induction happen just to see Ritchson flex his comedic muscles as a parody of old Supes.
Simon Williams’ alter ego also bears a few similarities to Superman, even though his superhero moniker sounds a bit like the male equivalent to a certain female DC character. Actually, he even has a few things in common with some established MCU characters, having originated as a rich guy with questionable morals who was given superhuman abilities (such as shapeshifting and teleportation) following a near-death experience.
This very familiar origin story (excluding the fact that Baron Zemo gave him his powers) could be a main reason why Wonder Man has never been given the cinematic treatment yet. However, now that we have someone like Alan Ritchson who matches the character’s physical description almost perfectly (save his blonde hair, once again), I want to see him in the MCU more than ever.
In 2019, Alan Ritchson revealed in an interview with Collider that he actually did not have the most favorable experience playing Raphael in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies in 2014 and 2016. While the motion capture performance was only a small factor of his dissatisfaction, he did describe the process, which involved him wearing a full body suit with a built-in “shell” on his back, as “grueling.” Maybe, instead of going through performance capture to become a monstrous comic book character, he might be down to physically embody the role with the magic of makeup.
I bring this up because I think that Ritchson makes a great fit for when Marvel recasts a blue, burly, brilliant mutant in their forthcoming X-Men movies reboot. The last time we saw Dr. Hank McCoy on the big screen was in Twentieth Century Fox’s prequel movies, as played by Nicolas Hoult, as younger version of the character from when he was first portrayed for live-action by Emmy winner Kelsey Grammer in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand. Both of those actors did a phenomenal job that I believe fans will forever cherish, but Ritchson could bring a new side to the role that could be even bigger and better (emphasis on bigger).
Speaking of bigger and (hopefully) better, I actually have another Marvel character in mind for Alan Ritchson who would require another full-body transformation if he would be up for it. The character in question is Ben Grimm, who would come to be known as The Thing after an accident that gave his friends Reed Richards, Sue Storm, and Johnny Storm other extraordinary abilities, but turned him into a big, orange behemoth with indestructible, rock-like skin.
Depending on which comic book fan you talk to, we still have yet to see someone give a truly great performance as Grimm (or the rest of the Fantastic Four, for that matter) on the big screen and audiences are hoping to see that streak broken with Marvel Studios’ highly anticipated reboot from Spider-Man’s “Home Trilogy” director Jon Watts.
I would hope that Alan Ritchson would consider it an honor to be the one to revive such a beloved character on the big screen and achieve the newfound mainstream glory that The Thing deserves. Not to mention that fact that he is already big and bulky enough that the process of applying makeup and prosthetics would probably not be as demanding as it could be for somebody else. Besides, if Michael Chiklis is willing to return to the role, it must be fun to play.
On the other hand, I would completely empathize with Alan Ritchson if he chose not to undergo such a drastic makeup procedure, as that sort of process is certainly not for everybody (just ask Jennifer Lawrence about her days as Mystique). So, in that case, I have another character in mind whose MCU debut has also been highly anticipated for a while and would also give the actor the opportunity to play a kind of role he has never played before (unless you count Rooster Teeth’s YouTube original sci-fi comedy Lazer Team).
With James Gunn teasing that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will see the end of that iteration of the outer space vigilantes, I think a good successor for the position of their leader would be another famous cosmic crime fighter named Richard Ryder. He would come to call himself “Nova” after becoming the sole survivor of the Nova Corps and acquiring all of their powers at once. Since Ritchson already looks like he has the strength of ten men, why not play someone who possesses the abilities of an entire fleet.
Because Alan Ritchson never got a chance to be in any big screen DC installments, appearing in the Marvel movies would be the ultimate consolation prize. Then again, if not, I am happy to know that we will see him on Reacher Season 2 reprising the title character he was born to play.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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