Perhaps the most conspicuous of all actors’ contract negotiations occurred during the filming of old-fashioned soap operas back in the 20th century. Shows happened on simple timelines. If an actor or actress wasn’t pulling their weight, or a character wasn’t proving popular enough, the character on the soap could simply be killed-off, buried in a funeral on TV, and never heard from again.
When Dallas actor Patrick Duffy found himself at an impasse with CBS executives in the early 1980s, their solution to the dollar-figure discrepancy was to kill-off his character Bobby Ewing. An outpouring of fan support soon helped Duffy in the talks, and when Bobby reemerged on the show all the producers could think of was to write-off 7 previous episodes (and several of J.R. Ewing’s brilliant oil deals) as a “bad dream.” Backlash ensued that nearly overwhelmed the Bobby death-backlash.
TV and film series have come a long way since then. Actors are realizing that just because their character “dies” in something doesn’t mean they won’t continue to act for the franchise, filming endless prequels or flashbacks. Just ask Michael McKean, who surely hasn’t ended a collaboration with Vince Gilligan despite Charles McGill having died on Better Call Saul. Meanwhile just because your character “lives” on a show by Gilligan or David Chase doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be doing much work as an actor.
That’s why it’s somewhat of a “diva” move for Tom Cruise to have thrown a fit over his potential role as Green Lantern.
Cruise was slated to act as Hal Jordan – Green Lantern’s alter ego – in the Guardians of the Universe series as early as 2017. The 57-year-old Hollywood star reportedly declined after learning that Jordan would be killed in a scene in the movie. As if the whole thing couldn’t be rebooted, refashioned, and re-packaged for another go-around with Cruise’s superhero character fully alive by 2025.
No matter – when there’s a buzz around a potential role in 2019 it remains a buzz. Social media can whip into a frenzy of support or condemnation, creating its own push for an actor’s role without the talent or the producer even having much to do with it. Bad public relations are risked by film companies that ignore Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the clickbait scrolls.
Tom Cruise is still getting hype for a potential role as Green Lantern. So much so that Las Vegas oddsmakers have the controversial movie star touted as an odds-on favorite.
Meanwhile, a fellow named Michael B. Jordan – not to be confused with the other “Michael Jordan” by gamblers at online betting sites – is among the front-runners to become the next Superman.
Peeking at the Entertainment Futures Odds at MyBookie
Our friends at MyBookie are nothing if not celebrity-conscious. The sportsbook’s celebrity “death match-up” markets have inspired laughter and debate, and its President Trump prop odds can be clever and unique too.
But the bookmaker has released somewhat-more conventional lines on a couple of anticipated superhero films in development. Tom Cruise is currently a (+130) betting favorite to “become the next Green Lantern in the upcoming movie” while Jordan is a (+150) gamble to play Superman in “any” upcoming DC Comics film.
It so happens that Jordan is African-American, a fact that would make him the 1st mainstream black Superman figure in history. But the actor has company at the top of the odds board – backlash against the concept of Jordan-as-Superman (try telling that to NBA basketball fans in so many words) has resulted in actor Tyler Hoechlin’s to-play-Superman market taking wagers at (+125).
We’ll examine Jordan’s plight in a little bit. For now, more about why Cruise is the going-away favorite to become Green Lantern despite dismissing the franchise such a short time ago.
Why Everyone Wants Tom Cruise to Light Up the Lantern
Mission: Impossible filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie is on the directors list for Green Lantern Corps, giving Warner Bros more ammo to fuel their pitch for Cruise as Hal Jordan. McQuarrie is a sucker for a good plot (what film director isn’t?) but recently told Screen Rant that it would take a “killer” superhero plot to get him to commit to the project.
If Warner Bros is able to satisfy him, McQuarrie may be able to utilize his 7-year history with Cruise to the film’s benefit.
Of course, whether or not it would be a “benefit” to have Cruise on-board largely depends on taste.
Other A-list names circling the hat of actors to star as Hal Jordan have included Bradley Cooper, Ryan Reynolds – who has experience playing Hal Jordan in a 2011 Green Lantern film – Jake Gyllenhaal, and Armie Hammer.
It helps that the aging Cruise resembles the characteristics and features of the digitally animated superhero. And thanks to a viral Instagram graphic of Cruise as Jordan, DC Comics fans have rallied behind the idea.
Since the premise of the movie’s script will likely involve Cruise’s Hal Jordan training an apprentice, neither Tom’s age nor his physical health (which is excellent) would be a deterrent to playing the role. All that is left is for Cruise to be persuaded to get on with it.
We’re about to see if such a stubborn and eccentric Hollywood superstar as Mr. Top Gun himself can be worn down by peer pressure.
Superman Where Are You? Superman!?
Quentin Tarantino’s movies have been known to stretch the truth a little bit. But when Bill – during the final act of Kill Bill Vol. 2 – explains how Superman is a unique American superhero, he’s 100% accurate.
Of course Bill’s version of the Superman franchise may be accurate, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely complete. After all…it’s a monologue in a movie, not a tutorial in art criticism.
The overall point stands that a superhero has an ironic duality by definition – a superhero’s humanity is what draws audiences back to the screen, yet her super-humanity must shine through in balance. Motion picture studios often think in the same way – they’re interested to make a short-term buck with the Armageddon and Pearl Harbor brand of re-hashed special-effect orgies and “2-hour movie trailers.” But at the same time, producers fancy themselves far-sighted and able to create iconic characters and images that help to shape popular culture for decades.
Jordan’s Potential Moment Met With Praise, Backlash
Michael B. Jordan’s roles in Creed, Black Panther and Fantastic Four make him a logical choice to become the 1st African-American version of Superman on the silver screen.
In an ironic twist all its own, Jordan’s MyBookie line to play Superman (+150) is longer than Cruise’s to play Green Lantern (+130) while Jordan has the only real rival on the betting board in Hoechlin – all that despite Jordan having gotten officially promoted as Superman already.
Not all DC Extended Universe fans are up for the idea of replacing Henry Cavill with Jordan. The Last Son of Krypton comes with a long-standing “racial” identity as a white male, mostly thanks to Caucasian actors like Christopher Reeve who have played him. Many African-American fans are making the argument that Jordan should not receive the role.
Jordan, a superb actor in his own right, recently told Oprah Winfrey that he was considering an alternate-reality Superman of sorts as a way around any such controversy. “I would rather do something original. I’ll be Calvin Ellis,” said Jordan.
Calvin Ellis is another version of Superman from Earth-23—a different dimension where Ellis is a black male. This black Superman is said to be modeled on President Barack Obama and legendary boxer Muhammad Ali. “I think the comic book purists can accept that more than me being Clark Kent from Kansas. That’s a different thing,” Jordan told Winfrey.
A Calvin Ellis movie would still be promoted as a Superman movie in so many respects, though, that the headlines “Jordan Tells Oprah He’s Not Playing Superman” were drummed-up and misleading for the public back in February.
I personally reject even the “Clark Kent from Kansas” argument for always putting a white man in the role of Superman. The people arguing otherwise are most-likely fans of fantasy-genre films more than traditional science fiction, in which script authors writing about aliens from outer space realize that said aliens from outer space can be imagined in any color, creed (or Creed) or style that you like.
But not quite as many online bettors agree as I would hope – Jordan’s odds are still hovering perilously close to 2-to-1 as Hoechlin begins to take over the market.
Entertainment Betting Tip: Handicapping the Odds on Cruise and Jordan
At this point Cruise’s (+130) line is like an early-season bet on Florida Atlantic college football a couple of years ago – stacked to the brim with potential and anticipation but with nary a fresh win on the resume and without a clear plan to win.
Meanwhile, Jordan’s line is like a (+150) on a team that we know will probably win on Saturday, but everyone’s a little jaded gambling on at this point.
Michael B. Jordan has been a winning horse in the Hollywood race too often to be a “sexy” pick, but he’s a better value at MyBookie for more than 1 reason. It’s a proven public-relations winner to reimagine an iconic tale from the African-American point of view – it’s an even more-proven path to success to hire Mr. Jordan for an acting role.
Plus, Jordan’s name is officially connected to the new Superman project – he’s got a foothold on it. Cruise is still presumably padding around his house, worried about his image after passing away in a movie.
Don’t expect that Top 25 actors’ ranking without getting off your hump, Tom – you’d better at least realize you can only earn future roles as Green Lantern by scoring a big win with the current film-in-production…whether your character struts away at the end or not.