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Casting a Live-action BraveStarr Film

BraveStarr is an animated TV series from the 1980s that followed on from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and ran for 65 episodes. Trying to recapture the runaway success of He-Man, this sci-fi western may not have sold as many toys but still has a special place in the hearts and minds of those who embraced it.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was recently given yet another remake or spin-off under the watchful eye of Kevin Smith for Netflix. Having had several spin-offs, the episodic and epic animated adventure derived from the likes of Conan the Barbarian found its central conflict in the battle between good and evil with two iconic characters in He-Man and Skeletor.

BraveStarr Live-Action Film

Waging war on each other for Eternia, week in and week out, there's a definite formula at play as each team's abilities, membership and powers trebled. This formula is furthered by the show's propensity for Filmation to reuse animated sequences and tag on a moral lesson at the end of each show. Thwarting Skeletor's plans and engaging in a few battle sequences and scenarios guaranteed to summon He-Man and Battle Cat in the place of Prince Adam and Cringer, the Superman switcheroo gave kids a taste of the superhuman power they all crave.

BraveStarr continued this nucleus in its match up between the noble Marshal BraveStarr and pilfering Tex Hex, mirroring the core stand off between He-Man and Skeletor but transplanting it from the sci-fi fantasy situation of Eternia into a futuristic Wild West in New Texas. This animated sequel for Filmation was locked into some He-Man formula but also made some of its own imaginative reinventions with the fortified town, Cringer 2.0 in Thirty-Thirty, lassoing Tex Hex from Ghostbusters and introducing the creepy Stampede. While we've already had a few attempts at a live-action He-Man, this age of superheroes makes it seem like the perfect time for us to finally get a live-action BraveStarr too.

While Neill Blomkamp's road since District 9 has been a bit rocky, he seems well-poised to take on the precarious balance between sci-fi and comedy as well as the marriage between live-action and CGI. Having proven himself in this arena and been attached to Alien and Robocop, perhaps this would be his opportunity to put his remarkable world-building and imagination to work. A bit of an underdog given the circumstances, his love for sci-fi weaponry would give him a definite edge.

Marshal BraveStarr - Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

Ideally one would want to cast an actor of Native American descent to honour BraveStarr's progressive approach and legacy of diversity. While Taylor Lautner springs to mind, there are very few actors who command as much instant love, respect, authority and star power as Dwayne Johnson. While he may not have the lineage to make him worthy of the honour, he certainly has the clout.

The Rock is one of the biggest Hollywood actors right now in every sense of the word. While his films are more geared towards popcorn entertainment, his trademark charm, intensity and good looks make him both appealing and bankable. BraveStarr would need an actor with a degree of physicality that would make them capable of having the "strength of a bear" and the "speed of a puma". While The Rock has more of a He-Man physique, his star power and heroic vibrations would make him a strong choice for the Marshal.

Thirty-Thirty - Karl Urban

If Benedict Cumberbatch was able to play Smaug, there shouldn't be any slight in portraying a horse. Having Dwayne Johnson commandeering his sidekick's services as a horse could become unintentionally funny but since the character will require a strong degree of CGI as with Thunderstick and Cactus Head, one would hope to find an actor to accurately wield Thirty-Thirty's life force and the duo's buddy chemistry. It's a bit of a gamble, but perhaps Karl Urban would be a great fit. Always game and a real team player, Urban and Johnson worked on Doom together and Urban's role as Dredd showed just how Dirty Harry he could be.

Tex Hex - Willem Dafoe

Shadow of the Vampire, The Lighthouse, Spider-Man... Willem Dafoe is a thoughtful actor whose storied face makes him adept at playing the bad guy. Why he hasn't officially changed his name to Villain Dafoe is anyone's guess(!) He seems to relish the opportunity to craft a villain and while a "cartoon", Tex Hex is one of the wildest and scariest characters out there. Smart, scheming and nefarious, Filmation always got the balance between their hero and villain just right. While Tex Hex can be bumbling at times, there's a maniacal quality to the wild outlaw who's under the control of an even more evil force in Stampede who could benefit from Tony Todd's voice talents.

Outlaw Scuzz - Jack Black

Wheezing, puffing and just funny enough to be a comical henchman, Jack Black's unique brand of crazy could be a great fit for the cigar-smoking traitor. To make it more of a challenge for Jack Black, who while known for his comedy can pull out stops with films like Bernie, he could even play Deputy Fuzz too if Patton Oswalt isn't available. These characters may be small in stature but add a welcome dose of heart and humour to counterbalance the cataclysmic battle for New Texas and the precious Kerium.

Sandstorm - Dave Bautista

A hulking character like Sandstorm requires an equally muscular actor. Having played Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy, Dave Bautista could make a worthy Sandstorm given his frame and temperament. Yes, even at the risk of adding more former WWE and WWF wrestlers into the mix!

Vipra - Olivia Wilde

Similar to Evil-Lyn who was Skeletor's second-in-command, whose voice role went to Lena Headey, Vipra is a regular on the Tex Hex crew. Under the command of Stampede, Tex Hex is the brains behind the bunch whose plans very rarely go to plan with the Marshal around. Olivia Wilde could bring her enchanting beauty and dark force from A Vigilante to the role of Vipra.

Judge J.B. McBride - Jessica Chastain

A striking redhead in every sense of the word, J.B. would benefit from an actor of Nicole Kidman's calibre. While Kidman has been able to play characters that range a few decades, the part would probably be better served by Jessica Chastain right now. While Chastain has made a name for herself in dramatic roles from Zero Dark Thirty to The Good Nurse, she has proved her mettle as an action star in Ava. Giving J.B. a fair balance of brains and action skills would find the right balance for the judge.

Doc Clayton - Denzel Washington

A reference to the famous gunfighter Doc Holliday, Doc Clayton's pacifist ideals make him a voice of reason in the lawlessness of New Texas. While Morgan Freeman's turn as Nelson Mandela demonstrates he'd be well-suited to the role of a peacemaker with a past, perhaps it'd be better served by Denzel Washington who played Steve Biko, has a closer resemblance to Doc and is probably reaching a similar age to the character.

Shaman - Michael Horse

Best known for his role as Deputy Hawk in Twin Peaks, Michael Horse brings an '80s gravitas to the role of the Shaman. Add the mystique of Twin Peaks and you've got a character who's starting to look more and more the part at the age of 72. A humble actor, his open-handed disposition would bring a natural warmth even if he had to speak with more of an ancient spirit.

Handlebar - Arnold Schwarzenegger

It's difficult to come up with an actor who'd even be willing to take on the role of the former pirate turned barkeeper, Handlebar. Based on his self-deprecation and willingness to poke fun at himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger could give the barkeep more colour. Obviously some CG would need to augment the plus size character and Handlebar's voice would need some help unless Arnie's unmistakable accent was given the green light. Being one of the smaller supporting roles, it's the kind of fun cameo that could work with Schwarzenegger trying to peddle the "sweetwater".