One of the nuggets of movie news to excite the internet over the weekend is the rumour that Marvel Studios is looking closely at British actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson for the role of super-nippy superhero Quicksilver in its upcoming film production sequel to The Avengers.
That follow-up to the box office-bludgeoning blockbuster of 2012 is due to smash its way into multiplexes like so many angry Hulks in the summer of 2015, once again under the guidance of writer-director Joss Whedon.
And if indeed cast as Quicksilver, then Taylor-Johnson does boast prior comic book movie pedigree, having taken the title role in Kick-Ass, the sequel to which is due for release on 14 August in the UK.
But whoever plays Quicksilver in the second big screen helping of The Avengers will be the second actor to do so in the space of 12 months, with Evan Peters, star of TV hit American Horror Story (and who also appeared in Kick-Ass), already having been cast in the same role in upcoming X-Men movie, Days of Future Past, which will open in July next year.
The reasons why Marvel, which makes The Avengers films, and Fox, which makes the X-Men movies, both have dibs on the same character are too torturous to go into here, but suffice to say they do.
And plenty of online pundits have been almost as swift as Quicksilver himself to suggest that Fox’s late, late, late addition of the character to their film is at least partly motivated by a desire to micturate on Marvel’s chips.
Having said that, when Peters’ casting was first announced, the more starry-eyed, sunny-sided fans had suggested that he might play the same role in the Avengers sequel too, thereby creating a continuity of story-verse common to the source comic books but pretty unfamiliar at the movies; the other instance of something similar that springs to mind is Michael Keaton playing ATF agent Ray Nicolette in both Miramax’s Jackie Brown and Universal’s Out of Sight.
Keaton’s star rose highest on the back of his role as Batman, and audiences are well-used to seeing such superhero characters played by different actors – whether it be Spider-Man, Superman or the Caped Crusader himself. But there have been plenty of non-comic book-based movie characters brought to life by multiple actors.
Created by author Patricia Highsmith, the sophisticated, deadly conman Tom Ripley has been played by numerous different thesps – most famously Matt Damon in The Talented Mr Ripley and, as an older man, by John Malkovich in Ripley’s Game.
Another literary creation (if we dignify the output of Tom Clancy as such) to make their mark on the big screen is CIA analyst Jack Ryan, who has been embodied by four different matinee idols of varying vintages: Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and – in the upcoming and cunningly titled Jack Ryan – Chris Pine.
But maybe the most memorable recurringly recast character at the movies and on TV over the last 20 years or so has been another, even more erudite, even more deadly killer than Ripley, namely Hannibal Lecter.
The not-so-good doctor was first played onscreen by Brian Cox in Manhunter, before being played across three movies (The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal and Manhunter remake Red Dragon) by Anthony Hopkins.
Lecter was also played as a youth by Gaspard Ulliel in critically panned prequel Hannibal Rising, and has most recently been seen on TV in an eponymous series, in the slick shape of Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen.
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