Months after James Wan was first confirmed as a key producer on DC Universe‘s brand-new and hopefully suitably scary take on Swamp Thing, we finally know who has been cast as the titular character and his human counterpart. As reported by Deadline, Andy Bean of the upcoming IT: Chapter Two will play Alec Holland, a passionate biologist whose work draws him to a swamp imbued with mystical properties. Meanwhile, Derek Mears, best-known for his role as Jason Voorhees in the Michael Bay-produced Friday the 13th reboot, will star as Swamp Thing, the iconic humanoid plant creature and elemental hero.
For the uninitiated, both of these characters were created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, while Alan Moore (Watchmen) greatly popularized the Swamp Thing mythology in the 1980s. The new series will be penned by Mark Verheiden (Marvel’s Daredevil) and Gary Dauberman (IT) and the pilot will be directed by Len Wiseman (Underworld).
Swamp Thing will track Abby Arcane, a CDC researcher investigating a deadly virus that seemingly originates from a swamp in the small town of Louisiana that she grew up in. However, she soon discovers that dazzling and terrifying secrets are tied to the bog, and shady enterprises are looking to command its aforementioned magic and mystery for profit. Along the way, Abby bonds with Alec, who fears his own research at the swamp is the real cause of the disease in question. Before long, he meets an untimely demise. After a “conflict with dark forces,” Alec emerges as the monstrous Swamp Thing and begins grappling with maintaining his very humanity. But of course, embracing the dark inevitable of his circumstances is the only way to defend the place and people he calls home.
This summary is super detailed as it is, at least for a show that’s only due out sometime in 2019. At first glance, Swamp Thing will rightfully incorporate the various ethical dilemmas and existential motifs that make its source material profound. As an added bonus, the burgeoning cast of characters apart from Alec and Swamp Thing paints a more well-rounded picture of what we could possibly expect from the series. Bean and Mears join a substantial list of actors previously confirmed for a number of major and supporting roles.
Crystal Reed (Gotham) will fill the shoes of leading lady Abby, a smart and capable woman with demons of her own to conquer when she is forced to return to a hometown she had once left behind. Maria Sten (Straight Outta Compton) will portray Liz Tremayne, a journalist and Abby’s trusted friend since childhood. Jeryl Prescott (The Walking Dead) is up for the role of the centuries-old mystic Madame Xanadu, whose virtue is hampered by her hesitance to get involved in battle. Xanadu also has connections to the occult that may serve as a tiny John Constantine nod.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Beals (NBC’s Taken) will take on the role of the pragmatic Sheriff Lucilia Cable. She is discernibly anti-supernatural and an extremely devoted mother to her son, Matt, whose comics version plays an important role in Abby’s life. Will Patton (the 2018 Halloween remake) is set to depict Avery Sunderland, the man running a corporation that greatly threatens the well-being of the swamp. Finally, Virginia Madsen (Dune) will play a prominent but original character named Maria Sunderland, who is Avery’s discontent wife with a deeply sad past of her own involving the loss of her daughter, Shawna.
Noticing these announcements file in individually over the last few months certainly piques excitement over the collective talent involved in Swamp Thing. That said, what actually stands out to me the most about Swamp Thing is the total number of women who will lead the show through its emotionally taxing story. The series’ initial announcement decidedly ensured that Abby’s personal journey will be the focal point of the proceedings, and this was already a great place to start. Now, we get to witness women from diverse backgrounds take on very distinctive roles as they populate the series. This leads me to wish for story arcs rife with compelling female friendships, allyships, and even adversaries.
A female focus in Swamp Thing isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility, anyway. An unforgettable and controversial issue from Alan Moore’s memorable The Saga of the Swamp Thing run centers on a depiction of women’s empowerment. Specifically, Swamp Thing #40 — titled “The Curse” — re-imagines feminist rage into a werewolf origin story. It openly dissects socialized views of menstruation, men’s objectification of women, and problematic, ingrained perceptions of gender roles. Granted, “The Curse” is far from perfect, due to its unnuanced portrayal of men and women of color as apparent plot devices in favor of a more single-minded pursuit of poetic justice for a white female character. Nevertheless, its limited scope teases the potential for a Swamp Thing narrative to include incisive women-centric storytelling.
Perhaps this is an unlikely reaction to the casting of two proficient male actors. Mears can be admired for being just about the only noteworthy aspect of the 2009 Friday the 13th redo, giving Jason a menacing bite with his towering posture. Bean has noticeably kept moving up the industry pipeline. Nabbing a key role in the IT sequel — a film bound to be a blockbuster success come September 2019 — is no mean feat. Still, the women of DC Universe’s Swamp Thing adaptation are obviously the ones keeping us the most optimistic.