While critics firmly came in against in "Clash Of The Titans," the film did boffo box office taking in nearly $500 million worldwide so it's no surprise that a sequel is on the way. Everyone from new director Jonathan Liebesman ("Battle: Los Angeles") to returning stars Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson have promised that the follow-up will be an improvement and, considering that the original landed firmly on our Worst of 2010 list, the bar hasn't been set unachievably high.
The film's only a few months from shooting, and details of the first few additions to the cast have started to leak out. Deadline were the first with the news that Edgar Ramirez, who delivered one of the biggest breakout performances of 2010 in Olivier Assayas' "Carlos" (and one of our male On The Rise picks at the end of last year), is in advanced negotiations to take his highest profile Hollywood role to date in the 'Clash' sequel, which now seems to be officially titled "Wrath of the Titans." Ramirez has cropped up in small roles in big projects in the past ("Domino," "The Bourne Ultimatum") but he looks to be all to set to play the key role of Ares, the God of War, in the sequel.
Furthermore, The Wrap second the news of Ramirez's involvement, and also suggest that British actor Toby Kebbell is all-but-signed to the project, in the role of Agenor. Kebbell's been a familiar face since playing Paddy Considine's brother in Shane Meadows' "Dead Man's Shoes," but it was his ace performance as Rob Gretton in "Control" that launched him to bigger things -- he cropped up last year in both "Prince of Persia" and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," although we're sure he'd rather forget both.
Mythologically speaking, Agenor is the son of Poseidon (played, ridiculously briefly, by Danny Huston in the original -- there's no word yet if the actor is returning), whose daughter Europa becomes beloved by Zeus, who woos her with the old trick of turning himself into a white bull and carrying her away to Crete. Could this be the logline to the sequel? As much as the idea of a Liam Neeson-voiced cow committing sexual assault is an intriguing one, we imagine not. It's also worth noting that chatter had suggested that Javier Bardem and James Franco were the top choices for the two roles, which makes a degree of sense when you see the eventual picks, even if it's clear that Legendary Pictures had to move a few picks down their wishlists before landing Ramirez and Kebbell.
The Wrap also suggests that near-omnipresent thesp Bill Nighy is wanted for the role of Hephaestus, the god of fire, although any deal seems to be a way off at this point. Perhaps most interestingly, it seems that the role of Andromeda, the nominal love interest in the original, played by Alexa Davalos, is being recast -- The Wrap name a shortlist headed up by "Captain America" star Hayley Atwell, with Clemence Poesy ("In Bruges"), Janet Montgomery ("Black Swan"), Georgina Haig ("Wasted on the Young") and Dominique McElligott ("Moon") -- the latter two were also on the Gwen Stacy short-list for "Spider-Man."
While this is by no means the only role to be recast in the film -- Ares and Hephaestus were 'played' in the first film by British actors Tamer Hassan and Paul Kynman, although their contributions in the final cut are reduced to standing around in the background -- it's somewhat surprising that a role that was relatively high-profile in the original is being shuffled, particularly without any sign of a schedule clash for Davalos. Even if the role was severely underwritten, Davalos didn't exactly make a huge impression in the original, so we're not sure it's a great loss.
In theory, this is all good news -- we like all the names being brought up, particularly Ramirez, but the original also featured classy names like Neeson and Ralph Fiennes (who are both returning, along with original leads Sam Worthington and Gemma Arterton), who didn't exactly help things when it came down to it. Hopefully the new additions will have some real meat to get their teeth into, or at the very least a coherent plot. "Wrath of the Titans" hits theaters on March 30, 2012.