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Comic Book Casting For 5/20/2005!

Does this man want to eat Spider-Man's brain?
It's a good week for comics fandom when almost every day brings something new to catch our interest in the movie world. Of course, everything seems to have come to a standstill for Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, but the studios are still hard at work looking for the right combination of talent to make next summer's blockbusters.

Let's work backwards, shall we?

Today Variety reports that Topher Grace, late of That 70's Show, has signed to be a villain in Spider-Man 3. This follows on an announcement over a month ago that Oscar nominee Thomas Hayden Church would be playing a villain. Neither actor has been connected with a specific character.

If you add it up, you could come up with the terrifying prospect of two villains in one movie, something Director Sam Raimi seemed to be dead against. From what little information has leaked about the production, the smart money has been on Church playing the Sandman, and Grace certainly would not be the physical type for that role anyway. For that matter, few Spider-Man villains are anywhere close to Grace's age.

Some internet sites have ventured the possibility of Venom. Again, Grace is too young to play Eddie Brock as he has been in the comics; on the flip side, James Franco was too cool to play Harry Osborne as he had been in the comics, so that's not a terrible theory. However, as Raimi has already planted seeds and hints in the first two films that could keep the series going, why not do it again with a higher profile actor? Perhaps Grace could be playing Peter's romantic rival for Betty Brant's affections, Ned Leeds, paving the way for the Hobgoblin.

The longest shot? Ben Reilly. Nothing could make for a more frightening Spider-Man film than a telling of the infamous Clone Saga.

Beauty and The Beast...
Or this speculation could be made even more difficult by another rumor burning across the internet: that Raimi will film Spider-Man 3 AND 4 back to back. Already, he has made a specific point that Sony will not be ending the series with the third installment, and that if the studio still wants him and he still wants to make them, he's in for as long as possible.

With Matthew Vaughn's Layer Cake going into wide release this week, it's also important to note that he has cast a high-profile television actor for his next film, a little something called X-Men 3.

Vaughn earlier confirmed that soccer hooligan Vinnie Jones would take on the role of Cain Marko, aka The Juggernaut, but this week the news slipped that Kelsey Grammer is making a daring career move among mutants.

As unlikely as it may sound, Grammer will play Hank McCoy, The Beast. Since the role of McCoy was even less than a cameo in X2, audiences will easily forget that the character appeared before.

Vocally, this may be a perfect match. Physically, however, it seems odd. But then, people weren't quite sold on Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. If Grammer pulls this off, it could catapult him into a great post-Frasier career.

"Jeepers, Mr. Kent -- do you want a brew?"
Speaking of X2, Bryan Singer has quietly made a casting choice that respects Superman's history in both television and comics. Jack Larson, who played Jimmy Olsen to George Reeves' Superman, has a role in Superman Returns.

Though the part may not be very large, it is a nice nod to the last twenty years of DC Comics, as Larson plays Bibbo, the broken down boxer cum tavern owner that worships and befriends Superman.

This marks the second time Larsen has been paid tribute (and cash money) in the various incarnations of the Superman franchise. On an episode of Lois & Clark, a mad scientist aged Jimmy Olsen, swapping young actor Justin Whalen for Larson for a couple of scenes.

Derek McCaw

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