9 Planeswalkers We Would Love to See in the New Magic: The Gathering Movie
By now, you no doubt have heard that 20th Century Fox and Hasbro are working together to produce a Magic: The Gathering movie franchise. There is much gossip surrounding the first film, most notably that Simon Kinberg of Fox – best known for Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Jumper, X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and the Star Wars Rebels TV series – will serve as a producer for the films, and Bryan Cogman, a producer and writer for Game of Thrones, will produce the film’s screenplay.
MTG players will also be pleased to know that there is a team of four people from Wizards of the Coast, including Doug Beyer and Mark Rosewater, who have been assigned to ensure that the MTG movie “captures the essence of Magic“. Mark Rosewater working directly on a movie franchise based on MTG? What’s not to love?
Let’s get down to story. The MTG movie was announced in January 2014, but the story has been kept tightly under wraps. There is much speculation, though, and the most commonly-held belief is that the films will revolve around the enigmatic planeswalkers.
Since the game’s creation, all MTG players have considered themselves to be “planeswalkers” in the game’s world, throwing spells and summoning monsters. However, the entire game changed in 2007 when Wizards of the Coast introduced the first planeswalker cards that could be summoned by players to aid them in battle. Since then, these planeswalkers have become the signature characters of the franchise.
With that in mind, I have gleaned through the veritable pantheon of MTG planeswalkers for my picks of those that might appear in the movie, and which A-list actors/actresses would do a good job of portraying them on screen.
Tibalt gets “honorable mention” in this list because he is such a recognizable character. But let’s be honest here: Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded is a pretty horrible card (unless you want to make a Modern Madness/Flashback deck, in which case he might actually be decent). In fact, Tibalt may very well be the most hated planeswalker ever printed.
The plane of Innistrad would be a great location for one of the MTG movies, so the insane torturer Tibalt could very well make an appearance. Should Tibalt make it onto the big screen, my A-list picks are:
Chris Pine is best known for his portrayal of Captain Kirk in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek films, but he was recently in the film adaptation of Into the Woods and we’re about to see a lot more of him in the next few years with two more Star Trek sequels planned and a prominent role in the upcoming Wonder Woman movie. Pine displays a wide acting range that could potentially lend itself well to this role.
Johnny Depp has spent decades building a reputation as an actor who can bring “quirky” characters to life, whether he has scissors for hands, a mysterious chocolate factory, or a missing pirate ship. The only catch: unless Tim Burton is directing the film, it might be difficult to get Depp to sign on.
8. Sorin Markov
The powerful but free-spirited vampire Sorin Markov wants nothing more than to find the next diversion that strikes his fancy, but instead finds himself having to save the world again, and again… and again. He had a hand in confining the Eldrazi to the plane of Zendikar, he showed up in Tarkir when Sarkhan endeavored to prevent Ugin’s death, and Sorin will soon return to Zendikar once again to battle the Eldrazi.
With the vast wealth of stories directly or indirectly involving the vampire sangromancer, it is within the realm of possibility that we will see Sorin on the big screen at some point. Fortunately, I have my eye on an A-list actor who was born for the role:
Tom Hiddleston became a household name overnight after his signature portrayal of Loki in the Thor and Avengers franchises – a powerful but free-spirited frost giant raised as an Asgardian god. Arguably some of the best scenes in the Thor franchise were those brief moments where Thor and Loki, long estranged after Loki’s machinations inevitably failed, work together to avenge Asgard. That’s exactly the way Sorin should be portrayed as well, a character with great power who has spent so much time serving his own whims, it actually means something when he agrees to help save Zendikar.
Now we’re starting to move to some of the more “central” planeswalkers. The role of Ajani, the albino leonin (or “catfolk”) planeswalker, might best be filled by two actors: one to physically manifest the large leonin, and another to give life to his booming voice. Fortunately, Hollywood has a reservoir of exceptionally tall actors (The Mountain, perhaps?) who can easily fit the bill on the green screen. However, voicing Ajani is an entirely different matter.
Remember The Chronicles of Narnia reboot movies that started in 2005? Well, the voice of Aslan was actually Liam Neeson. It’s easy to forget when his résumé includes a mythological god, the ninja who trained Batman, the jedi master who discovered the child who would become Darth Vader, and a man with a very particular set of skills. Everyone knows James Earl Jones as the voice of Mufasa in The Lion King as well as, coincidentally enough, Darth Vader in the Star Wars films.
Who you may not recognize, also from The Lion King, is Jim Cummings, who briefly preformed the voice of Scar in the song “Be Prepared” after actor Jeremy Irons, the primary voice of Scar, developed vocal problems. Cummings is known for such voice credits as: many voices in The Transformers TV series, Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger, El Capitan in DuckTales, Monteray Jack in Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers TV series, Don Karnage in TaleSpin, Razoul and Farouk in Aladdin, Darkwing Duck, Pete in Goof Troop TV series and A Goofy Movie, Dr. Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog TV series, Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series, Mr. Bumpy in Bump in the Night, Mr. Mental and Captain Decency in The Tick TV series, Psy-Crow and Bob the Killer Goldfish in Earthworm Jim TV series, Narrator in Animaniacs TV series, and Fuzzy Limpkins in The Powerpuff Girls TV series.
If your childhood was in the 90’s or early 2000’s, you loved this guy. In fact, he was your childhood. And guess what? He’s done plenty of great work since then.
Elspeth is a knight who possesses both prowess in battle and great healing abilities. She is a warrior woman who is also known for her beauty. Elspeth’s story spans many different planes, and she has found herself in the middle of many conflicts.
Gwendolne Christie is a model-turned-actress who, prior to her warrior-woman role on the TV series Game of Thrones, sported long, flowing blonde hair. It was only after the offer to play Brienne of Tarth on the HBO series that she opted for the short-haired, tough girl look. Ultimately, you want a woman of beauty and strength to play the role of Elspeth Tirel, someone who can believably wield the planeswalker’s great blade.
5. Gideon Jura
Born in Akros on the plane of Theros, Gideon Jura is a great warrior who wields a three-bladed whip. Gideon once served the Order of Heliud on the plane of Regatha, battled with the Eldrazi in Zendikar, and even lived for a time in Ravnica.
The best choice for Gideon would be Jason Momoa, famous for his role on Game of Thrones, and soon to play DC’s Aquaman. Sean Bean, also from Game of Thrones and best known for playing Boromir in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, would also be a good pick (although he would probably die halfway through the movie).
Honestly though, there are plenty of other large, muscular actors in the Hollywood roster who could also do a fine job with the role of Gideon. Chris Hemsworth (Marvel’s Thor) and Karl Urban (Eomer, also from The Lord of the Rings, and a hitman on The Bourne Supremacy) are two such actors with the required acting ability, but the list goes on and on.
A man of immense stature and covered in the furs of his greatest kills, Garruk is a warrior-druid who aspires to become the ultimate predator.
I picked Vin Diesel primarily for his voice, which would be a perfect fit for the character of Garruk, but let’s not forget that his signature acting role was a man called Riddick, the ultimate predator. While Vin Diesel’s stature is well-built and muscular, he is not exactly the hulking stature of Garruk, unfortunately. However, we live in the age of digital manipulation, so good old fashioned movie magic can easily remedy this.
Chandra Nalaar is one of the central planeswalkers in the Magic: The Gathering mythos. She is an impetuous, youthful pyromancer, as powerful as she is headstrong. She has a fiery temper, but deep down she is as human as the rest of us.
Karen Gillan’s first major role was Amy Pond from the Doctor Who series, and she quickly became a fan favourite. Most recently, she was in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy as the blue assassin Nebula. Felicia Day is a geek favourite, creator of The Guild web series, guest star on the TV series Supernatural and Eureka, and the basis of the Dragon Age game franchise character Tallis.
While neither Gillan nor Day are necessarily considered “A-list” actresses, both have demonstrated the acting range needed for Chandra: powerful, tempestuous, but with the vulnerable side that is so vital to Chandra’s character.
2. Liliana Vess
Liliana Vess is an egocentric, seductive, powerful necromancer. Once upon a time, she was a healer from the plane of Dominaria, but her dabblings into the darker side of life and death led to a chain of events that ignited her planeswalker spark and sent her to the dark world of Innistrad, the home plane of Tibalt and Sorin.
If we’re talking A-list actresses, Mila Kunis and Angelina Jolie both have the ability to portray this seductive, sociopathic planeswalker. In Black Swan (2010), Kunis portrayed a talented dancer, full of passion but prone to drug use and a wild lifestyle. Jolie’s recent title role Maleficent centered around the fairy who cursed the “sleeping beauty” Princess Aurora, and while Liliana may not be a fairy, there are some striking similarities between the overall look of the two characters.
Speaking of similarities…
The original printing of Liliana Vess portrayed the planeswalker with prominent tattoos. It bears noting that Kunis’ character in Black Swan and Jolie’s character in Wanted each featured prominent tattoos. Who wore it better?
1. Jace Beleren
The best known planeswalker of all time is Jace Beleren, a powerful wizard who specializes in telepathy. He is stoic and patient, but when moved to action he is a force to be reckoned with. He has spent time in peace, he has used his telepathy to blackmail important persons, and he has restored peace in times of great turmoil. His personality must be at the same time enigmatic and piercing.
Obviously, the role of Jace was the hardest for me to cast. There are plenty of unknown actors who could probably do the role justice (and I would love for that to happen), but since this list is almost exclusively A-list actors and actresses, I have narrowed down the list as best I can, based on the various aspects of Jace’s character that 20th Century Fox might want to focus on.
That’s right, my first pick is Will Smith. For all the criticism Smith receives for “always playing the same character”, he has a depth and charisma that would do justice to Jace’s enigmatic nature.
An often overlooked aspect of Jace is his sheer physicality and energy. We often see him portrayed as walking around, charging spells or looking off into the distance, but that is not the sum of the character. When forced to fight, Jace becomes a quick, powerful foe (such as above, when Jace got the drop on Chandra Nalaar). In this way, Jet Li could bring new life to the character by showing us the wizard’s agile side. Just think, Li could portray Jace with a mix of martial arts and spellcasting – how cool would that be?
In appearance alone, Elijah Wood is an absolutely perfect cast for the role of a young Jace Beleren. He also brings an intensity of character, and of course, piercing blue eyes.
Since Jace is such a difficult character to cast, I came up with two more actors that might be good in the role:
Despite his age, Liam Neeson (yes, I know I already list him as a potential voice actor for Ajani) could definitely bring out the more intense parts of Jace’s personality. How about a movie featuring a slightly older Jace?
Jake Gyllenhaal, whose first major role was Donnie Darko, has starred in a wide range of films since the dark indie cult movie. Depending on the direction filmmakers would choose to go with Jace Beleren, Gyllenhaal could be a fine candidate for the character.
I hope you enjoyed speculating with me and fantasizing about casting big name actors as our favorite MTG planeswalkers. Fox and Hasbro would be hard-pressed to obtain such high-profile actors and actresses, but it’s fun to think about. By the way, while we’re on the subject…
Community Question: Who would you like to see in the upcoming Magic: The Gathering films?
I have high hopes for the upcoming Magic: The Gathering film and its potential sequels. What storyline do you hope 20th Century Fox pursues first? What characters do you hope to see? Do you agree with the above casting choices, and if not, who would you like to see on the big screen? I look forward to hearing from you all, and if there is enough feedback, maybe we’ll revisit this topic next week with a Part 2. Who knows?
Thanks for reading,