Legendary actor Mark Hamill has been cast as Mervyn Pumpkinhead in the feverishly anticipated Sandman series from Netflix. This is the latest casting reveal for the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s highly influential fantasy comic book series, and was announced as part of Netflix’s Geeked Week. The five-day virtual event served to drive up excitement for any number of upcoming projects, but the announcement that Mark Hamill, Luke Skywalker himself, would be voicing one of The Sandman’s weirder (and funniest) characters is a pretty big one.
While Mark Hamill is far and away most famous for portraying Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars franchise since the first movie in 1977, he also has a long and accomplished career as a voice actor. Most notably, he has frequently voiced the iconic DC Batman villain the Joker since 1992, beginning with Batman: The Animated Series. Since then, Mark Hamill has returned to the character for multiple animated (and live-action) series, films, video game adaptations, and even amusement park rides.
While the Joker is likely Mark Hamill’s most famous vocal role, he has also voiced other comic book villains like the Trickster and Swamp Thing. He also voiced Fire Lord Ozai in Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Hobgoblin in the 1990s animated Spider-Man series, and Skeletor in Masters of the Universe: Revelation. In short, Mark Hamill is more than qualified to voice pretty much any animated character ever, and Mervyn Pumpkinhead should be grateful.
The Netflix adaptation will be yet another fan-favorite role for Mark Hamill to add to his resume. Mervyn Pumpkinhead is considered one of the most beloved minor characters in The Sandman, first appearing as a nameless bus-driving dream in the first issues of the series. The character developed into more of a regular supporting cast member over the course of the 75 issues of The Sandman, with his working-class attitude as the janitor of the Dream-King’s castle and cigar-chomping wisecracks contrasting with his appearance as an animate scarecrow with the head of a pumpkin. Dreams can be pretty literal, after all.
While Mark Hamill’s casting as Mervyn Pumpkinhead will no doubt be met by fans with excitement, The Sandman has already been greeted with controversy for some other decisions. In particular, after Game of Thrones actor Gwendoline Christie was cast as fallen angel/Morpheus adversary Lucifer; despite the character existing as an unfathomably ancient spirit-being, some readers objected to a female actor being cast. Neil Gaiman did not put up with that for long on social media, with some choice words about what is and is not his problem.
Prior to that, some “fans” had also objected to British actor Kirby Howell-Baptiste being in The Sandman as the titular character’s sister, the personification of Death. Much as in the case of Lucifer, there were objections that a Black person did not match Death’s standard appearance in the comic books, despite the Endless being specifically described as being perceived by individuals in myriad different ways due to being cosmic anthropomorphic personifications of concepts, and not, you know, humans with fixed racial identities. But on the other hand: Mark Hamill as Mervyn Pumpkinhead! Exciting, right?