It’s no secret that notoriously cranky comics writer Alan Moore is no fan of movies being made of his books, and I can’t really blame him for that. His tomes such as Watchmen and From Hell are complex and ambitious works that defy easy condensation into a two-hour movie narrative, so I can understand why he might be irked that Hollywood has repeatedly adapted his books, whether he wanted them to or not. I’d argue that many of the resulting films, such as Watchmen and V for Vendetta, are more of a mixed bag rather than outright failures, but if there’s one case where Moore’s disdain is absolutely justified, it’s the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie, a truly terrible film that looks all the worse when compared to the tantalizing alternate version dreamed up by the video above.
Dubbed “The REAL League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” the video was created as a college project by a bloke named Florian Liedtke, and it’s brilliantly effective at making this particular League fan long for a more faithful film or TV adaptation that could actually do the comic series justice…or at least come a helluva lot closer to doing so than the 2003 movie directed by Stephen Norrington (Blade) did. A big part of the appeal is Liedtke’s usage of the gorgeous original artwork by Kevin O’Neill, not to mention a song choice that perfectly accentuates the visuals (the song is “The Other Side” by Woodkid).
I don’t agree with all of Liedtke’s suggested cast and crew — Jerry Bruckheimer? How about no? Guy Ritchie as director could go either way, but he did tackle similar material with his Sherlock Holmes movies, so whether he’s the right man for the job depends on your opinion of those films. Jane Goldman as screenwriter, however, could be an excellent pick. She penned the underrated Neil Gaiman adaptation Stardust, as well as the first Kick-Ass movie and X-Men: First Class, which helped rescue that franchise from the pit Brett Ratner had cast it into with X-Men: The Last Stand.
Where things really get fun is with Liedtke’s choice of actors, kicking off with the brilliant casting of John Hurt to play the aged Allan Quatermain (played by Sean Connery in the movie, an experience that pretty much drove him into retirement).
From there Liedtke fills out the rest of the League’s heroes and villains with talented character actors rather than big-name stunt casting, which is pretty much the exact opposite of how Fox approached it back in 2003. (Remember the wholly unnecessary addition of Tom Sawyer just so we had an American in the mix?) In fact, there’s a good chance you might not recognize a good portion of these names at first glance, so here’s a quick primer. Joining Hurt’s Quatermain is British actress Lara Pulver as Mina Harker, who you might recall from her run-ins with Dracula. Pulver is probably best known for playing Irene Adler in Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ Sherlock, opposite Benedict Cumberbatch’s Holmes.
As Captain Nemo we have Bollywood veteran Amitabh Bachchan. I’m not familiar with his work, but the ridiculous number of Indian film credits that pack his resume prove that he’s sure as hell no green amateur. Last year he appeared in Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby.
He’s picked Silas Weir Mitchell for the dual role of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He’s a regular on Grimm, on top of a long TV career that’s included appearances on The X-Files, Dark Skies, and Prison Break, among many others. And he’s already got plenty of experience playing a bit of a beast on Grimm…
We’ve got a more recognizable name as Hawley Griffin/The Invisible Man: John Turturro, who’s appeared in countless movies over the years, including tons of stuff for the Coen Brothers, such as O Brother Where Art Thou? and Barton Fink. He can play unhinged or creepy very well indeed, which readers of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen will know is crucial for the unsavory role of Hawley Griffin.
For the villainous Doctor Fu Man Chu, Liedtke suggests award-winning Chinese actor Tony Leung Ka Fai, who you might know from 2010’s Doctor Dee: Mystery of the Phantom Flame or the 1992 erotic drama The Lover, otherwise known as “that movie my teenage self kept hoping would come on cable when my parents weren’t around.”
The role of the brilliant Professor Moriarty has been played by countless actors over the years, but for his League Liedtke suggests Charles Dance, and that’s one hell of a solid pick. You might recognize him as Tywin Lannister from Game of Thrones, as well as roles in Alien 3, The Last Action Hero, and tons more.
Sadly, this is all just a pipe dream at the moment. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen still has extraordinary potential, ideally as a TV series or mini-series on one of the top-tier premium cable networks like AMC or HBO. Unfortunately, the last we heard a version was in development for TV…for Fox. Seriously, why not just travel to Moore’s house and kick him right square in the balls? Thankfully it’s been over a year since we heard anything about that project, so hopefully’s it’s taken up residence in the dustbin of history.