If you're like me, you were likely disappointed with how Japan's live-action 'Attack on Titan' movie turned out. If you haven't seen it, and are a fan of the manga or anime, it's a divisive film that'll leave you aching for an adaptation truer to the source material.
While there haven't been too many Hollywood films based on anime/manga, the few that somehow managed to get made really didn't sit well with most critics and audiences. Need some examples? Check out the live-action versions of Fist of the North Star, Speed Racer, or Dragonball Evolution.
Fortunately, we could very well be on the cusp of Hollywood making a serious effort towards bringing anime and manga to the big screen in proper fashion. Adaptations of Ghost in the Shell and Battle Angel Alita are in the works with prominent Hollywood talent and large budgets behind them. Does that mean either film will automatically be good? No, but now there's more potential for them to be the start of something big.
What if Attack on Titan, currently one of the most popular anime series and mangas today, received similar treatment? Let's say Guillermo del Toro decided to helm the project (and stuck with it). It's right up his alley after all, what with him being a self-proclaimed kaiju fanatic.
I mean come on, Guillermo del Toro and Attack on Titan is really a match made in heaven. Here's a quick rundown of the plot for the uninitiated:
Years ago, giant humanoid creatures, called Titans, suddenly appeared and nearly wiped out humanity, devouring them without remorse or reason. What remains of humanity now resides within three giant, concentric walls.
Titan defense is provided by the military, which is divided into three branches: the Survey Corps—responsible for clearing out Titans beyond the wall for human expansion, the Garrison—guardians of the walls and civilian population, and the Military Police Brigade—protectors of the royal family.
The anime's post-apocalyptic setting would be a playground for del Toro's rampant imagination to have fun in. It also has crazy and insane action and sword-wielding heroes hunting kaiju. But the big selling point are the kaiju for sure. The Titan fights would look so good done up in the del Toro aesthetic. To sum it up, it'd be like del Toro making a Pacific Rim styled period piece.
So let's say somehow Hollywood greenlit Attack on Titan with Guillermo del Toro taking the reins. Who would he cast? I've come up with a group of actors I feel would definitely make the shortlist. Will you agree? Read on to find out!
Freddie Highmore As Eren Jaeger
Eren is the main protagonist who after witnessing his mother being devoured by a Titan, dedicates his life to their eradication by joining the Survey Corps. He's headstrong and overly brash, but he is also undoubtedly courageous in the fight against the Titans.
There's something great about Freddie Highmore when you watch him in Bates Motel; you really feel like there's something brooding deep down inside him, just aching to get out. The strength of that enigmatic aura is why I think he'd be perfect for Eren Jaeger. He can portray someone strong and confident, but also vulnerable and unhinged at the same time.
Chloe Bennet As Mikasa Ackerman
Mikasa is Eren's adopted sister who is taken in by his family. She is a quiet and withdrawn girl, and maintains a stoic expression. She's highly protective of Eren, and does whatever it takes to ensure his safety at all times, including slaying Titans with maximum efficiency.
I'm sure this would be the most controversial casting among fans, but I really feel Chloe Bennet would be the best choice for this role. True to canon, Bennet is half-asian like Mikasa, so that might win a few fans over. She's also a well rounded actress, and clearly has a knack for action. Check out the clip below from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. where Bennet convincingly portrays a total hardass.
Jeremy Allen White As Armin Arlert
Armin is Eren's childhood friend. He has an inferiority complex, and although he often appears scared, pitiful, and is wholly ineffective as a soldier, he is a most loyal and trusted companion.
Here's one of the strongest young actors I know who isn't as famous as he should be. Jeremy Allen White can act. Seriously, he's really, really good. He'd be able to powerfully convey Armin's deep-seated courage held back by a facade of weakness and fear. Watch him kill it in an emotional scene from the Showtime series Shameless down below. It'll give you an idea of how he could apply his dramatic talent to the role of Armin. (*NSFW* for language.)
Saoirse Ronan As Annie Leonhardt
Annie is a small-statured girl who is also a skilled martial artist. She's calculating, she's reserved, and she's deadly efficient in combat, against both humans and Titans. Despite being a great ally among her peers, she's highly cynical and tends to be a loner.
Saoirse Ronan has the same look about her that Annie does in the anime. I think it's the eyes. Ronan definitely has both the acting and action chops to pull this role off. She's an Oscar-nominated actress and she kicked loads of ass in 2011's Hanna. If the film were to properly adapt the anime, just imagine how big of a badass Saoirse could be as Annie.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Levi Ackerman
Levi is humanity's most powerful warrior. He is a paragon of discipline, respect, and authority who leads the Special Operations Squad, an elite group of soldiers that has killed hundreds of Titans.
As with Saoirse Ronan, I think Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a great look that'd properly suit Captain Levi. He'd definitely do the character justice, unlike the amalgamation of the character from the Japanese live-action film. JGL also has experience playing both the quintessential ass-kicking "right-hand man" archetype (see: Inception) and a cool but calculated killer (see: Looper).
Charlie Hunnam As Erwin Smith
Erwin Smith is commander of the Survey Corps, the military branch actively involved in direct Titan combat, Titan study, and human expansion beyond Titan controlled territory.
If Guillermo del Toro were to direct Attack on Titan, rest assured he'd cast actors he had previously worked with. I think Charlie Hunnam would be great as the hard-nosed leader of the Survey Corps. As the lead protagonist in del Toro's Pacific Rim, Hunnam has shown he can be a commanding presence on screen.
Ron Perlman As Dot Pixis
Dot Pixis is the lighthearted and outlandish commander of the Garrison military branch. He is an expert strategist, but is also known to take significant risks regarding military operation against the Titans.
Here's a more seasoned del Toro regular that would surely turn up in this movie and elevate the film even more because of just how great he is. I mean, you really can't go wrong casting Ron Perlman, more so here as Commander Pixis. It's not hard to imagine Perlman in the role; his acting pedigree plays to the strengths of Pixis's wildly eccentric, almost carefree persona.
Josh Hutcherson As Connie Springer
Connie hails from a rural village, and his greatest ambition is to make his family and village proud of him. Upon graduating from the 104th trainee squad, he joins the Survey Corps to aid human expansion and the fight against the Titans.
Hutcherson has given likable performances in his past films from like The Hunger Games and the Red Dawn remake as the plucky amiable type. That's essentially why I think he'd be a good fit for Connie's upbeat character.
AnnaSophia Robb As Krista Lenz
Friendly, kind, and warm-hearted, Krista is a major asset to the morale of the Survey Corps. She is also so popular among her peers to the point where most regard her as a goddess or an angel.
AnnaSophia Robb might not be a well known name, but I've seen her in several films, most recently in 2011's Soul Surfer, and she has a charm about her that would easily capture the kindness of Krista Lenz.
Armie Hammer As Reiner Braun
Reiner is a strong, well built soldier, who ranked second among his peers in the 104th trainee squad. He hails from a mountain village that was overrun by Titans. He joins the Survey Corps as a means to return home.
This was a no brainer for me. Despite being a bit older — though to be fair, I aged up every character from the anime — Armie would effortlessly portray the confidence and boldness of Reiner with his physical presence alone.
Josh Hartnett As Bertolt Hoover
Bertolt is the childhood friend of Reiner, but unlike his tenacious companion, he lacks the drive and initiative to be a truly great soldier. He's a follower, not a leader. While his weak-willed manner does him no favors, he's still is a reliable and loyal ally nonetheless.
For Bertolt, I wanted someone to compliment Reiner's/Armie's physical appearance by being similar in height but not as barrel chested or broad shouldered. Josh Hartnett fits that bill, and I think he and Armie would make a great pairing on film.
Matthew Lewis As Jean Kirstein
Pragmatic and hot-headed, Jean has a strong aversion towards exposing himself to danger. He has cowardly aspirations to join the Military Police branch as a means to live out a safe and uneventful life, far away from any possible Titan encounters.
Neville Longbottom eventually overcame his cowardice in the Harry Potter films, so naturally I was drawn to the actor who played him for the role of Jean. Bonus points now that Matthew Lewis has the kind of long-faced and lanky, wiry build that Jean has in the anime.
Colton Haynes As Marco Bott
Idealistic and good-natured, Marco values the good of the group above his own interests as well as understanding and coping with his own limitations and shortcomings. He wants to join the Military Police so he can serve the King and his royal family.
Colton Haynes on Arrow definitely gave off altruistic vibes, both on and off the show. So when I was deciding on someone I thought could play the idealistic Marco, Haynes seemed to be a solid match.
Jason Isaacs As Hannes
Hannes is a soldier in the Garrison branch who saved Eren and Mikasa during a Titan attack when they were younger. Although a known drunk, and somewhat cowhearted, Hannes is a truly caring man who stays true to his Garrison duties.
While known for his more villainous roles (which would make the cow-hearted nature of Hannes easy for him to play), Jason Isaacs has shown that he can portray someone who is stern but also caring, as he did with his performance in 2001's Black Hawk Down as Captain Steele.
Nina Dobrev As Sasha Blouse
Sasha is a friendly, fun-loving girl who has an affinity towards food. Despite being timid, and a bit strange, Sasha has sharp intuition with keen instincts, and is surprisingly courageous in dangerous situations.
Nina Dobrev is full of charisma and comes off as free spirited both in real life and on film/TV. I find it hard to argue against Nina being the perfect actress that aligns with the spritely, albeit charmingly bizarre persona of Sasha Blouse.
So, there you have it! I think all of the above would make a great ensemble cast for a Guillermo del Toro directed Attack on Titan film. Bear in mind I've only watched the anime, so I'm sure plenty of my choices are up for debate. Do you have your own ideas on who could play a certain role? Do you think all my castings are terrible, awesome, or mediocre? Let me know in the comments!
Would you watch a Hollywood remake of 'Attack on Titan' if it were directed by Guillermo del Toro?
Attack on Titan insignia art by SunnyDjoka