Roll up, roll up to the big top, the elephants are on parade as we prepare to take flight with the live-action adaptation of 1941's #Dumbo. Mr. Stork has dropped a bouncing bundle of casting rumors in our lap, and the big news is that #WillSmith could be taking his notoriously big lugs to our screens in #TimBurton's adaptation of Dumbo. However, there are new reports that another Academy Award winner could possibly be coming along for the ride; we know he can land a plane on the Hudson, but can #TomHanks also fly an elephant?
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Hot on the heels of the Will Smith news, rumors are that Hanks is circling the role of the film's lead villain, while other reports indicate that Hanks has turned down the part to instead star in World War II drama The Grey Hound. Personally, I think Hanks would make a superb Timothy Q. Mouse, but let's look at who he could play if he were to realistically be the villain of Dumbo.
1. The Pink Elephants
Undoubtedly the creepiest element of the 1941 cartoon were those pink elephants. As Dumbo and Timothy got tanked up on bubbles, they began to hallucinate an army of marching, musical, pachyderms. Given Burton's past films, it just wouldn't be Dumbo without a return to the musical interlude. However, could the director spin out the segment to have the nightmarish elephants as the main villain? We can assume that Burton will take the heart-warming tale down a darker route, and nothing is darker than those sinister LSD elephants.
2. An Evil Clown
I don't know about you, but those clowns from Dumbo sure gave me a dose of coulrophobia. Remember when the tall one splits into two smaller ones, or the spooky one that dressed as his mother? I'm sure that Burton could make an evil clown the focus of the film's villainy, he just needs to remember this is a kid's film and not Stephen King's IT!
3. Another Animal
As Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book shows us, other animals can be just as evil as a human menace, and Disney already brought Shere Khan into live-action. Look at the likes of the evil cat from Babe that forced the titular pig to run away, or the hyenas from The Lion King. We have already had an evil tiger, but the villain of Dumbo could be anything from an angry bull elephant to a hot-shot lion. The gossiping herd of female elephants were the closest that we had to this in Disney's cartoon, but you could easily make them more menacing.
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4. A Poacher
One part of the story that Disney happily glossed over was the capture of all the animals in the circus. Given the time period, it is safe to assume that at least some of the animals were captured from the wild; I don't buy that whole "delivered by a stork" nonsense. Could an ivory-hungry poacher come to claim his prize? A giant-eared, flying, elephant would look pretty good on someone's mantle.
5. The Ringmaster
However, the most obvious choice, and the route I hope they take, would be to have the Ringmaster as the Big Bad. Given the film's classic circus setting, and the chance for profiteering, this makes the most sense. Looking at 2011's Water for Elephants, where Christopher Waltz played the psychotic August, a part like this would add the right level of darkness to Dumbo. The Ringmaster from the cartoon may not have been an out and out villain, although he didn't do much to help Dumbo and his mother by locking her away as a dangerous elephant. Hanks definitely has the acting chops to take on a pompous circus master.
6. (Rogue Choice) An Evil Stork
Going way out there with this wild card, what if Dumbo's friendly Stork goes on a mission to steal back Dumbo for his own nefarious gains? Chances of this are about 1,000 to 1, but I never did like that inept Mr. Stork. What if he didn't come to deliver babies, but steal them away? How very Burton of you!
While is is all hearsay at the moment, Smith is tipped to play the father of a group of children who befriend Dumbo after seeing him at the circus. There is no news on when the film is set, but let's hope that it sticks to a more classic timeframe instead of bringing the circus to the 21st Century — that issue is a little controversial as it is anyway. There was no family helping Dumbo in the cartoon, so it is also a little sad to see that they are moving away from the plot of the original film in favor of a more humanized version of the story.
Given Disney's recent run of good luck with its live-action adaptations, let's hope that Dumbo is more like the hotly anticipated Beauty and the Beast and not last year's Alice Through the Looking Glass. Dumbo joins the slate alongside the likes of Mulan, Cruella, and The Little Mermaid; Burton will direct Ehren Kruger's script, although there is still no set date for when our big-eared friend will be swapping peanuts for box office takings. One thing is for sure, if Hanks does join the project, he probably won't be playing a racially questionable crow.
Check out the "pink elephants" scene from Dumbo, and don't forget our poll below!
Who should Tom Hanks play in 'Dumbo'?