From those unfamiliar, M.A.S.K. was a 1980’s cartoon show developed by Hasbro and Kenner Toys in the United States. As was the style at the time, the show spawned an animated series, created to serve primarily as a platform to sell the action figures in stores. The storyline focused on the fight between an underground task force called M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand) and a criminal organization called V.E.N.O.M. (Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem).
It is sometimes forgotten in the shadow of its more famous cousins, including the Thundercats, the Transformers and GI Joe, but serves as a popular franchise with a cult following. Though popular shows like Robot Chicken have paid homage to the series in a number of high profile sketches.
For those unaware, a recent IDW comic book series entitled ‘Revolution’ saw a storyline in which Miles Mayhem (the leader of Venom) was linked to the Transformers, using the technology of the Optimus Prime’s All Spark to craft weapons for the US Military alongside one Cornelius Trakker. Trakker would later be killed in a botched experiment, but not before his research materials were stolen, and several masks created harnessing the power of the All Spark. Mayhem intended to use these masks for world domination and control, but Trakker had passed on the same technology to his son, Matt, who used them for good and was vehemently opposed to stopping Venom and bringing Mayhem to justice for the death of his father.
Should any of this story line be featured in the upcoming Transformers film ‘The Last Knight’ (or perhaps a little after credits scene showing Mayhem drinking in an old bar) it would provide an excellent bridge to the world of MASK and, not only a reinvention of the franchise for modern audiences, but a whole new series of film adaptations on the big screen. Indeed, Hasbro previously announced (in June 2015) that the brand was under redevelopment for an upcoming new line. As late as June 2016, there had been reports that the series would feature heavily in a collaborative movie with GI Joe, with writers hired for that very project.
So, who would play these characters on the big screen? What actors would fit the roles of these personas as they stood in the animated series? Having looked through the extensive MASK and VENOM files, matched with my knowledge and passion for the show, I’ve come up with (what I feel) is the most likely scenario. I’d also like to point out that there were several (and more, if you include the Series 2 cartoon as cannon) members of MASK available for any given job. Maybe not so many VENOM henchmen though. In either case, I’ve picked my Top 5 from either side based on personal preference and character development – the same number of Autobot’s Hasbro felt it fair to include in their original Transformers 2003 movie.
For each MASK character there’ll be a codename, related to their vehicle, in most the cases the one they’re most famous for, as opposed to alternatives or European variants. I reckon regardless of casting choices and the use of character there’s a real chance they’ll just make up new developments and powers in the masks – much like Hasbro did when “re imagining” the Deceptions for that first film
M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand)
Matt Trakker (Leader Of M.A.S.K. – Code Name: Thunderhawk)
Trakker A – Brad Pitt
Trakker B – Daniel Kaluuya
As the leader of the organization that saves the world, Trakker’s authority is unquestionable, but the personal moral choices he faces on his actions (Mayhem is believed to be responsible for the death of his father, and possibly Scott’s birth mother) weigh heavily on his mind and his character. This would be best reflected in his performance and would also give a reason for his personal stake in bringing VENOM down. Personally, I would focus the action sometime after the death of Trakker’s father and the adoption of Scott, giving Matt time to grow and grieve as both an orphan himself and a father. But Matt’s personal reasons aside, those who follow him have pledged their life to this oath, including that of a secret fraternity that offers them great power. He must have a sound mind and rule with exemption as an inspiring force for good.
In the recent IDW reboot of the comic (which may lead to introducing newer fans to the franchise if a film is in development), Matt is portrayed as a young man himself, far too young to have an adopted son and also of African American origin rather than the blonde hair and blue eyes of his GI Joe esque appearance in the animated series. Times have changed since 1985, that much is clear, but the casting of this character will no doubt be closely based on the portrayal Hasbro choose to go with – on a fundamental level – leading to me picking a Trakker Choice A & B for either possibility, based on A being his older animated version and B being his newer African influenced version.
I think both choices would be fairly mind blowing, regardless of the actor, but think Pitt as an older struggling step father (being this himself in real life) might be able to bring that particular arc the sense of realism it needs.
Scott Trakker and T Bob – Tom Holland (Josh Gad)
Much like Penny and Brain in Inspector Gadget, Scott Trakker and T Bob provided the animated series with a human connection and grounded roots in the shows structure, giving the audience a way to view the show from the outside in, especially when that audience was around the same age as the young character. As a script device, this would be an ideal introduction into the movies storyline for new and casual fans. Think Sam Whitwicky, though much less annoying and predictable. Scott was Matt’s adopted son, who appeared in the series as a constant sense of worry and dilemma for Matt. Often there were plot points moved along because of Scott’s playful interference and inquisitiveness in the actions of MASK and Matt’s subsequent wish to keep his young son out of danger. This also lent itself well to the shows infamous PSA style outros, which encouraged young viewers to do such things as look both ways when crossing the street and never get into a strangers car. The toy line for MASK was one of the first I can ever personally remembered to be designed with seat beats for the included action figures.
Given his youthful appearance and English charm, as well as the fantastic performance he gave in Captain America’s Civil War it’s easy to forget Tom Holland is only 21. Though Scott was always portrayed as a younger boy, too young to drive, I feel that Holland’s older portrayal would clash with a slightly older Trakker in a perfect way – maybe finding out that he has more of a connection to Mayhem than he realizes and questioning exactly what it means to be good or bad. Oh, the possibilities. Either way, Holland is a fantastic actor, who has developed a unique style all of his own since The Impossible. If they would wish to voice T Bob as in the animated series I believe actor Josh Gad (based on his recent performance in Beauty and the Beast) would be ideal.
Bruce Sato (Codename: Rhino) – Jackie Chan
Often known for being the wisest of influences in MASK, Bruce Sato provided comfort and assurance to Matt Tracker in the original animated series, especially when his moral choices meant putting himself or his fellow operatives in danger. Despite the obvious age difference I believe that Jackie Chan would have the ideal look and range to be able to play this role. He would excel at being able to provide comfort and reassurance and keep a level head. The appearance of Sato would also mean a cameo for his Rhino co-driver Alex Sector who I believe could easily be played by John Goodman, giving fans a real treat to see the veteran actor on screen for a few shots.
Dusty Hayes (Codename: Gator) – Chris Pratt
A joker, a light hearted guy and someone you could really get along with. Pratt is an obvious choice to play Dusty Hayes, a Southern talking mechanic who fights crime under his codename Gator. Hayes would easily serve as an integral part of Trakker’s army and was a series mainstay across both seasons of the animated series.
Gloria Baker (Codename: Shark) – Felicity Jones
Being one of the hottest properities in Sci Fi at the moment, Felicity Jones has both the style and glamour to portray Trakker’s best in Gloria Baker. Depending on which story line Hasbro chose to adopt, it could easily be Baker and Trakker that are universally linked, tearing off each others clothes in the bedroom as much as they tear rubber when chasing down Venom. With Jones very much in the public eye at the moment this film would come at a great time to catapult the young star from Star Wars to beyond the stars.
Brad Turner (Codename: Condor) – Oscar Issac
The fan favorite rock star would most definitely need to make an appearance, but his time on screen would most likely be shortened, possibly due to how one dimensional the character is. Turner’s motorcycle antics would be memorable enough to probably make him the hottest selling action figure of the entire franchise but much like Boba Fett before him his screen time would be a lot less impressive. I do believe, however, that Oscar Issac would be a perfect person to play the future love interest of Vanessa Warfield and provide MASK with those killer guitar shreds.
And now for the bad guys in all this…
V.E.N.O.M. (Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem)
General Miles Mayhem/Maximus (Codename: Switchblade) – Robert De Niro
Though not as heavyset as the image of Mayhem in comics, or sporting a moustache as bold, De Niro has made quite a transition in acting style from ‘Raging Bull’ and ‘Taxi Driver’ to the more recent ‘Meet the Fockers’, one which I believe would make him ideal to play the villainous leader. At his heart, Mayhem is a General, a commander of army and a ruthless thug. But he also needs to play the role of the face the people expect to see – ultimately this Political figure who could do no wrong and is a true patriot. Added to this, Mayhem’s twin brother, which if the film chose to use him (and they don’t necessarily have to as he was more of a cheap plot device for the toy line in the cartoon’s second season) is a weak willed snivelling version of the character that could provide cheap comic relief and also the kind of acting variety more established actors like De Niro crave. I also feel Jeremy Irons would be a good second choice, particular on the role he played in High Rise, ultimately portraying a man driven to villainy by his own architecture.
Cliff Dagger (Codename: Jackhammer) – Jason Statham
Cliff Dagger was a one dimensional character, the kind of ruthless thug who is hired to do the kind of underhanded work a sleazy Politian doesn’t need to do themselves. His manner and tone are short, sharp and violent. He follows orders and gets paid for his muscle – rewarded by advancing in status and driving vehicle’s far above his usual authority. Dagger is a loyal foot solider and provides everything Mayhem needs to get his hands dirty. I think Jason Statham would be the ideal look and fit for this henchman, providing a strong and muscled look which are as imposing in person as his violent Jackhammer vehicle is on the road.
Vanessa Warfield (Codename: Manta) – Milla Jovovich
A sophisticated and sexy spy, Vanessa was the female representation for VENOM, playing a supporting role in the animated series but is a character I feel would be integral for a 2017 reboot. She might serve as a wing to Mayhem’s political career, working in tandem with the General, but her characters development at the end of the shows second series (which saw her become the groups leader and have a romantic interest in MASK member Brad Tuner) could be an excellent plot dynamic for seeing her change alliances in a film instalment. For this reason I feel she needs to be a lead character in her own right who can carry a franchise and also someone not adverse to intelligent dialogue and discussion. Milla Jovovich strikes me as an excellent actor who could provide the depth and breath of characterisation to make Vanessa more than just a background character.
Bruno Sheppard (Codename: Stinger) – Gary Anthony Williams
Remembered best for his orange Mohawk and comic relief, Sheppard is as ruthless as Dagger, but his character is nowhere near as brutal and militant as Dagger. Easily I could see Sheppard providing a likeable villain for VENOM, someone the audience will love to hate, whose bumbling may also be too much for Mayhem. Gary Anthony Williams would be an excellent choice casting for the character, mainly because of his role as Bebop in the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live action. His character would also be more independent than that of Bebop and wouldn’t need to hang on for scenes that only feature him and another member of VENOM.
Lester Sludge (Codename: Iguana) – Michael Wincott
By fifth billing there isn’t much room for on screen development of VENOM’s random henchmen, but far from a simple cameo, I believe Lester Sludge should be included. Like most VENOM henchmen in the original toy line, Sludge chose a motorcycle, but it was his appearance in “Where Eagles Dare” which caught my attention because he managed to almost, legitimately, murder Matt Trakker. I feel for this reason alone his character should be included and played by an established character actor. Michael Wincott, of Alien Resurrection and Strange Days fame (and also in an unaccredited role in the new Ghost In The Shell) would be a fantastic use of casting. Wincott could easily provide that rough and ready role in a memorable way and make any scene containing the characters dialogue feel a lot more comprehensive than it would most likely not be.
There’s our choices. What do you think? Get in touch, comment below and let us know what you like!