Since its momentous debut back in March 2012, the visionary brainchild of writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples has been hailed by both critics and fans as a game-changer in the field of comics. I am, of course, talking about none other than SAGA. Today, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t consider SAGA as part of their regular pull lists or the hordes of newly converted fans declaring this ongoing series as their gateway drug into comic books and graphic novels. Indeed, the fandom for this incredible title has seen thousands—if not millions—of devotees from all over the world and only recently did Vaughan and Staples gave their blessing towards the opening of an online store where people could buy official merchandise based on their work, such as a large plush toy of fan favorite, Lying Cat.
But despite the overwhelming amount of praise heaped upon SAGA, the creators have gone on record several times that while they are open to the possibility of having their seminal work adapted into film or television, it was never created for such an intention and nor is it a priority of theirs. Understandably, some (if not most) fans were completely heartbroken at having to contend with only a comic format with which to enjoy this beloved modern classic of the space opera genre. From a visual and storytelling perspective, SAGA is a prime candidate for a major blockbuster production that could rival either Game of Thrones or anything pulled from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Of course, with SAGA being released under publisher Image Comics where comic creators hold full copyrights to their work, fans could only wait with bated breath until such time that Vaughan and Staples will ultimately relent and give the green light for Hollywood to make an adaptation that is truly worthy of the source material.
Hypothetically speaking, the idea might sound good on paper though perhaps a huge point of contention should a SAGA movie adaptation come into fruition would be the casting. We are now living in a time where diversity in media is being consistently demanded by discerning audiences despite Hollywood still making glaring missteps in that regard. Racial bias against actors of color and underrepresentation of women and LGBT individuals are hot button topics that almost always become watercooler discussions every time the casting of a big film or TV production is announced. Any SAGA fan worth their salt knows for a fact that the comic series is filled with characters that appear visually diverse in terms of race and gender despite the setting being in a fictional extraterrestrial galaxy. Both Vaughan and Staples were conscious of reflecting the current social climate of the real world so that readers of various demographics could relate to any character featured in their astonishing pages.
So until such time that hardcore fans such as myself will receive confirmation of a future SAGA debut on the big screen or on the boob tube, we shall only remain in blissful “what if” scenarios in our wild imaginations. That being said, I have taken the liberty of acting as an imaginary casting director for a potential SAGA film franchise, where I took great measures to make this both a dream cast filled with great talents while also fulfilling the demand for diversity and representation of minorities. And a little disclaimer (plus a minor spoiler alert): my dream fan casting selections were based on the characters still written as alive and kicking by the end of the sixth story arc. So without further ado, here are my top choices for the current cast of characters still featured within the pages of this great comic book.
Zoe Saldana as ALANA
Given that she has played both a blue and a green alien in two separate film franchises—that would be Avatar and Guardians of the Galaxy to you, dear reader—with both characters being strong and independent females, it seems like a no-brainer that a big name like Zoe Saldana should step in to bring the plucky and resourceful protagonist character of Alana to life. Hailing from the planet Landfall, it’s easy enough to imagine the actress sporting her unique insect-like wings while still retaining her natural skin color unlike her previous iterations as a resident of Pandora and as the last of her kind from Zen-Whoberi. It also helps that Saldana is no stranger to the storyline of two different galactic races in conflict and falling in forbidden love in the midst of a violent war. Let’s also not forget that Saldana knows more than a thing or two about being in a sci-fi film since she’s also in the Star Trek reboot.
Daniel Henney as MARKO
Staples has mentioned on her personal Tumblr blog that she used East Asian male models and actors as a point of reference in the creation of Marko and it is still subtly apparent even though there is no clear racial markers indicative of his inspirational heritage. Therefore, model and actor Daniel Henney seems like the perfect candidate to portray Alana’s significant other from Landfall’s moon, Wreath. The actor’s striking good looks can be attributed to his Korean, Irish, and American ancestry, which fits rather well with the general aesthetics of Marko. And while his acting credits have been limited to supporting roles in Korean and American TV productions, a high-profile casting coup like SAGA could potentially catapult him into A-list status while also proudly waving the flag for Asian American actors fighting to be represented in leading roles not mired in stereotypes.
Aubrey Anderson-Emmons as HAZEL
The most prominent role to date of child actress Aubrey Anderson-Emmons is her sassy, sarcastic, and precocious turn as Lily Tucker-Pritchett in the ensemble comedy, Modern Family. Now that Hazel has entered her early childhood years and slowly learning about the harsh realities of the universe she was born into, it takes an equally gutsy performer who can hold her own against a group of mostly grown-up actors and Anderson-Emmons has proven her chops with her Modern Family cast mates. And while the overall tone and imagery of SAGA may be very graphic and mature in nature, I have no doubt that this charming young lady will blaze through the role of Hazel without even batting an eyelash at the gruesome imagery and adult language that the comic is definitely known for.
Ming-Na Wen as KLARA
Thinking about an actress who could embody a badass horned matriarch and who is also a former soldier of Wreath immediately made me think of Ming-Na Wen as the logical choice to play Klara. As the mother of Marko, mother-in-law to Alana, and grandmother to Hazel, she juggles a lot of familial responsibilities which ultimately makes for a truly compelling character. Fierce and determined, Wen can surely carry this role with aplomb as she has seen her fair share of balancing nuanced dramatic roles and tough characters who kick butt in the process. Audiences may know Wen for her voice work in Disney’s Mulan where she played the title role, and most recently as Agent Melinda May in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. And if a SAGA movie were to become a reality, Wen would surely give Klara justice and prove the naysayers wrong.
Ellen Page as IZABEL
The character may be a magenta-hued alien ghost without any legs, but Izabel has been an instant hit the second she appeared in the very first story arc of the series and allied herself with the forbidden family on the run. The eventual revelation that she had a lesbian relationship before she died means this is an opportunity for an openly queer actress to take on this extraterrestrial specter. Ellen Page may not be a teenager anymore, but her style and personality meshes quite well with Izabel’s own persona, and not to mention that the character might probably be rendered as a motion capture performance if presented with a live action adaptation. SAGA is already weird in itself, so it should not come as a shock to anyone that a lesbian actress should tackle a shapeshifting babysitter ghost who is also a lesbian.
Michael Fassbender as PRINCE/SIR ROBOT IV
I have to confess that a large part of this fan casting decision stems from Michael Fassbender’s eccentric turn in the indie comedy Frank, where he played the titular character while wearing a giant papier-mâché head. What was amazing about that part was that the devastatingly handsome Irish actor with the signature shark grin managed to convey so much through his speech and body language—all without even revealing his emotions which are often expressed through visible facial expressions. Oh, and he also played a certain damaged royal from the hallowed annals of Shakespeare (read: Macbeth). The combination of those two distinct roles made for a deliciously demented mashup. Just picture Fassbender with a TV head and inhabiting the multifaceted regal nature of Prince/Sir Robot IV. Now that the image is seared into your neurons, you probably can’t imagine anyone else getting the role now, can you?
Jacob Tremblay as SQUIRE
Despite being officially introduced as an infant during the fourth volume, it was truly surprising for most SAGA fans that the future heir to the Robot Kingdom has grown up significantly by the time readers have reached the sixth story arc. Now a young boy who may or may not be in the same age range as Hazel or Sophie, Squire is shaping up to potentially become a key player in the grand scheme of Vaughan’s story. Luckily, only one child actor came to mind when I thought about a singular individual that could possibly portray Squire in his current incarnation. If anyone has seen the emotionally shattering indie drama Room, then you should know that the super adorable and talented newcomer Jacob Tremblay has what it takes to deal with an overly protective parent that has suffered through so much physical and psychological abuse.
Chris Hemsworth as THE WILL
SAGA is rife with so much flawed characters that everyone—yes, including our beloved protagonist couple—has some serious issues going on with them. And everyone’s favorite Freelancer is no exception to having major shit to deal with the second he accepted that fateful assignment to take out Marko and Alana. And while most people might associate him as a good guy Asgardian superhero, Chris Hemsworth would do well to branch out in a more prominently antagonistic role as The Will. This gives the Australian actor the chance to flex his dramatic muscles (apart from Rush and In the Heart of the Sea) considering how The Will has changed so far from a psychological and emotional perspective. And given his shocking comeback in Volume 6, it would be a pleasant change of pace to see the normally beefy Hemsworth actually pack on a lot of pounds while still managing to be just as menacing.
Lupita Nyong’o as GWENDOLYN
Fans of recently minted Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o were justifiably disappointed to discover that her big roles after winning her Oscar were for voice or motion capture performances and not live action. Even I asked myself, “Why is Hollywood trying to hide the gorgeousness of this amazingly talented and beautiful woman?” Nyong’o deserves to be seen from behind the trappings of CGI characters like Maz Kanata from the new Star Wars trilogy and Raksha from the live action version of The jungle Book. She could truly break through if Nyong’o was cast as government-bureaucrat-turned-pseudo-bounty-hunter Gwendolyn. It’s literally a perfect casting match, and the fact that Nyong’o has never once played a character that has antagonistic leanings. Call me crazy, but fans deserve a Gwendolyn who not only looks the part right down to her stylish white ensemble, but actually has the talent to prove that the all of the acting awards she won wasn’t just a one-time fluke.
Quvenzhané Wallis as SOPHIE
From being a liberated underage sex slave imprisoned on Sextillion to becoming Gwendolyn’s duly sanctioned Page, this young girl from the comet Phang has certainly been through a lot after six successive story arcs in the series. Although we do not know of her real birth name (well, not yet, anyway), The Will has decided to rechristen this particular girl as Sophie. As the oldest of the three main child characters featured so far in SAGA, it seems appropriate that the role should go to the immensely brilliant Quvenzhané Wallis. With the actress now in her tween years just like Sophie probably is by now, it seems like only yesterday that Wallis made history as the youngest ever Best Actress nominee at the Oscars for her ferociously magnetic role as Hushpuppy Doucet in Beasts of the Southern Wild. A minor difference in skin color aside, Wallis is likely to crush it as Sophie if given the chance.
Jennifer Lawrence as the voice of LYING CAT
Okay, hear me out on this one: Jennifer Lawrence will do for Lying Cat in a possible SAGA adaptation what Vin Diesel did for Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy. And when you think about it, it is kind of funny that the current biggest female movie star on the planet with immense star power to draw crowds if she stars in a tentpole production will be simply voicing an alien feline sidekick who can only say one word and who also happens to be a living bullshit detector. That, and how Lying Cat tends to purr, growl, and hiss a lot apart from speaking the word “Lying”. And to be fair, Lawrence does have this naturally low, husky, yet seductive feminine voice which is how I imagined Lying Cat would sound every time she uttered her famous word on the page. Plus, the fandom crossover potential would be insane because I mean, come on: Mystique transforming into a giant blue talking cat? Sign me up for that one, please!
Chris Pratt as the voice of GHÜS
Since his iconic debut happily guiding Friendo on the gray landscape of Quietus, the animal herder named Ghüs sporting those adorable yellow overalls resonated so deeply with SAGA readers and immediately became an instant fan favorite upon first sight. I think most everyone is in agreement that if Vaughan and Staples were to kill him off, every single one of us would probably riot in the streets. A delightfully charming character like Ghüs needs an equally charismatic actor to bring him to life via voice performance since him and Lying Cat will most likely be visually rendered in CGI a la Richard Parker from Life of Pi. Chris Pratt can easily conjure up a Southern drawl which I imagine Ghüs’s accent to be every time he speaks. Also, Pratt has exceptional comedic timing which is perfect for a character like Ghüs.
Rami Malek as UPSHER
Although he may have already received his major breakout role on television, it certainly wouldn’t hurt if a gorgeous and talented actor like Rami Malek would take on the character of Upsher in the cinematic version of SAGA. After years of landing supporting roles in film and television (past credits include The Pacific, Short Term 12, and the Night at the Museum movies), Malek has broken out of the mold by landing a coveted leading role in a well-produced and Emmy-nominated TV show. As a brilliant computer hacker suffering from depression, anxiety, and dissociative identity disorder, Malek truly shines as Elliot Alderson in the techno thriller Mr. Robot. And although Upsher is not a hacker by any means, he shares a similar drive with Malek’s TV character for investigating really juicy stories that can potentially have damaging consequences if exposed to the general public. Plus, it also helps that Malek has the physical features needed to portray Upsher, right down to that slim and tall build, those high cheekbones, and that striking hairstyle.
Oscar Isaac as DOFF
I thought long and hard about who would look really good standing next to Rami Malek’s Upsher aside from being ridiculously talented at acting, and it hit me that Oscar Isaac would be such a perfect fit to play Doff. The fact that both men are handsome actors of color (Malek is of Egyptian heritage, Isaac is of Guatemalan descent) is just the icing on top of my dream fan casting cake! His trajectory to stardom ultimately came from starring in critically acclaimed indie productions like Inside Llewyn Davis and A Most Violent Year, where he nabbed the lead roles in both films. Isaac is also quite good even when cast in ensemble films as evidenced by his role as Poe Dameron in the current iteration of the Star Wars franchise. And given his deliciously bro-mantic chemistry with Star Wars co-star John Boyega, it’s really not that hard to picture Isaac as the cautious but passionate photojournalist from Jetsam getting his sexy alien freak on with Malek in an obviously R-rated SAGA adaptation.
Jamie Clayton as PETRICHOR
While gay, lesbian, and bisexual people are now quite commonplace in the entertainment industry, it still rather hurts to see that the T part in LGBT is still fighting for wider representation in media. Very rarely do real transgender actors and actresses get the spotlight since most fictional trans roles for TV and film written in the past and even today are still played by heterosexual and cisgendered actors. This is a total shame considering that transgender performers should have the rights and the opportunities to play roles they can relate to on a personal level. That is why it is only fair that Jamie Clayton is the right choice to portray the character of Petrichor. As a trans woman in real life who also plays a fictional trans woman in the Netflix sci-fi series Sense8, Clayton has the perfect gamine physique to pull off Petrichor’s exotic appearance, as well as the acting chops needed to portray the newly inducted member of Marko and Alana’s runaway intergalactic family.
BONUS FAN CASTING! FOR THE DEARLY DEPARTED…
Abbey Lee as THE STALK
Where You Might Have Seen Her: The Dag in Mad Max: Fury Road and Sarah in The Neon Demon
Why She Would Slay the Role: The Australian high fashion supermodel turned actress cuts a striking figure from head to toe. And as evidenced by her previous film appearances, Lee has this ethereal presence that could turn deadly at the blink of an eye—something that I believe The Stalk also possesses.
Sir Ben Kingsley as BARR
Where You Might Have Seen Him: Mahatma Gandhi in Gandhi and Trevor Slattery in Iron Man 3
Why He Would Slay the Role: The knighted English actor with Indian heritage has an illustrious career spanning several decades and consistently strikes a commanding onscreen presence whether he plays an antagonist or protagonist. That is why Kingsley is pitch perfect for helming the role of Barr.
Tilda Swinton as THE BRAND
Where You Might Have Seen Her: Jadis the White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia films and Gabriel in Constantine
Why She Would Slay the Role: With her otherworldly androgynous features and uncanny ability to physically transform herself in every role, the eccentric Scottish scene-stealing actress would surely impress greatly as The Brand. It also helps that Swinton looks insanely fantastic wearing menswear, too.
Morgan Freeman as D. OSWALD HEIST
Where You Might Have Seen Him: God in Bruce Almighty and Lucius Fox in The Dark Knight trilogy
Why He Would Slay the Role: The renowned American actor with his signature voice was my one and only choice for the role of D. Oswald Heist—the cyclopean recluse writer whose book brought Marko and Alana together. And any movie where you hear Freeman speak is just made of awesomeness.
Viola Davis as YUMA
Where You Might Have Seen Her: Aibileen Clark in The Help and Annalise Keating in How to Get Away with Murder
Why She Would Slay the Role: From film to television and the theater stage, there is nothing that this intrepid American actress can’t do. And with her level of fearlessness for portraying imperfect and complex characters, Davis would surely hit it right out of the park as the artistic drug junkie Yuma.
Idris Elba as DENGO
Where You Might Have Seen Him: Stacker Pentecost in Pacific Rim and The Commandant in Beasts of No Nation
Why He Would Slay the Role: The sexy and incredibly talented English actor boasts an impressive acting repertoire that cuts across all film and television genres. And with Elba’s knack for fleshing out truly multifarious antagonists, he would have no problem handling renegade Robot janitor Dengo.