By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com January 3, 2011 at 3:10AM
There's not a lot of news knocking around in the week between Christmas and New Year, and so fairly ludicrous rumors that wouldn't necessarily get the time of day in busier periods get more traction than they would otherwise. Two stories were doing the rounds last week, stories that have a very significant connection.
Firstly, the director of the third game in the "Uncharted" series threw Mark Wahlberg's attachment to David O. Russell's movie adaptation of the series into doubt, and told that the fan campaign to cast Nathan Fillion as lead Nathan Drake was being listened to. Of course, the fact that this guy has no involvement with the movie apparently doesn't matter -- along with the goateed guy and his bored girlfriend who confronted Russell with the campaign at a Q&A, fans still seem to be determined that there's a chance that the "Firefly" star could land a lead role in the picture.
Furthermore, another "Firefly" cast member, Alan Tudyk, was linked to another high-profile property, when will-print-any-old-shit site, Comic Book Movie, reported the actor had been cast as Marvel hero Ant-Man, and would appear in both "The Avengers" and in the Edgar Wright-helmed "Ant-Man" movie (while Fillion was being 'largely considered' to cameo in the former as Wonder Man). Of course, the rumor was swiftly debunked by Wright.
Now, here's the thing. We like "Firefly" -- arguably Whedon's best, most consistent work to date. We like "Serenity" too. Nathan Fillion's a charismatic lead who probably deserves better than the ABC police procedural that he's currently stuck in. Alan Tudyk is a very fine actor indeed, and any time he turns up in a film, even lesser ones, it's generally a cause for celebration. But their chances of being cast in the lead role in a $100 million plus tentpole lie somewhere between zero and nought.
The reason why comes in Russell's response when confronted by a goateed fanboy. On being told he should cast Fillion, the director responded, presumably referring to the fanbase that, "If they wanna put someone in there who's not a big deal..." before following up, referring to Fillion, that "I don't even know him." And Russell's response is more than likely to be indicative of what 90% of Hollywood thinks.
The Joss Whedon fanbase is loud and vociferous, and they're as loyal as anything to the stars of their favorite shows, which is certainly to be commended, for sure. The fact that they are so vocal makes it feel like they have more power than they do; maybe, maybe, if "Serenity" had become a giant hit, then things could have been different. But the fact is that Fillion and Tudyk (or the stars of "Smallville," "Supernatural," "Stargate" or any of the other shows whose fans would like to see their cast turn up in big geek properties) barely register on the radar of casting directors, studio executives and A-list directors, and certainly not for franchise hopefuls like "Uncharted," or even the Whedon-helmed "The Avengers" movie, particularly in roles that Marvel hope to launch into stand-alone franchises; the company isn't about to let their crown jewels turn into extensions of the Whedonverse.
Recent history has demonstrated that big properties don't necessarily need A-listers on board -- Chris Pine headlining "Star Trek," Chris Hemsworth in "Thor" -- but with riskier, less well-known source material, they're going to need bigger names to launch "Uncharted" and "Ant Man." We're sorry, but it's true.
It also displays a certain lack of imagination on fans' behalf. Fillion's made a career from playing faintly rugged, wisecracking heroes, so of course he's going to be the most popular choice to play the firmly-cut-from-the-cloth-of-Indiana-Jones here of "Uncharted." But would his casting lead to the film feeling like anything other than the Indy knock-off it could so easily be? Russell certainly seems to be keen to push off in his own direction, which is a sensible move, frankly.
The rumors are not going anywhere -- as long as there are message boards and fans with too much time on their hands, it's going to keep happening. And, with Whedon helming "The Avengers," it's not inconceivable that some of his rep company will appear somewhere in the picture, but it won't be in a central role. Our point is that, really, sites who should know far better should think twice when the Summer-Glau-for-"Wonder-Woman" rumors rear their inevitable head.