If Marvel Comic’s King in Black event proves popular enough to spawn its own Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, there are five actors who would be ideally suited to playing the titular Knull. The event, which ran from late 2020 to early 2021, received largely positive reviews, paving the way for a potential film adaptation. The character’s relationship to Gorr the God Butcher, who appeared in Thor: Love and Thunder, even offers a ready route to introduce him to the MCU. There are currently no official plans to incorporate the King of the Symbiotes into the MCU, but the series’ popularity means that Knull could one day appear on the silver screen.
While Knull is delightfully evil, adapting him to film could pose a particular challenge. Knull is a simple character in the sense that he is motivated by his love of conquering, desire for destruction, and thirst for power rather than a complex ideology. His straightforward motivation means he risks coming off as flat unless executed properly. His appearance in the King in Black comics was bolstered by Ryan Stegman’s stunning art, but his characterization in film will rely on performance. Like Ulysses Klaue in Black Panther and The Grandmaster in Thor: Ragnarok, his onscreen presence will be key to making him interesting and engaging. Casting the right actor would prove crucial to his success as a character.
If a King in Black movie ever becomes a reality, Marvel would likely cast an actor who could skillfully translate his menacing presence, arrogance, and enthusiasm for violence as well as his calmly condescending and enraged states. Their best option would likely be a veteran villain actor whose track record showed they could deliver a memorable performance, although a particularly talented actor at the start of their career could offer an exciting surprise. Should Knull ever make his way to the MCU, these five actors would make an impressive King in Black.
Al Pacino has played many villainous roles throughout his long career, most notably the Satan/John Milton in The Devil’s Advocate, Tony Montana in Scarface, and Michael Corleone in The Godfather. His more recent films The Irishman and House of Gucci show that he maintains his aptitude for antagonistic roles. Pacino’s filmography shows his wide range within the villain category, as he has played sympathetic bank robbers, cartoonish Mafiosos, and emotionless gangsters. This range would allow him to play Knull not only as he appears in the comics but with whatever additional twists the MCU may give the character. His background in crime dramas and thrillers could give Knull the gravitas and tension that the light-hearted MCU might struggle to achieve, and his many awards and nominations make him a safe bet for a job well done.
While Christoph Waltz would make a perfect Dr. Doom, the King in Black would be a good alternative role should he be passed over for the MCU’s Fantastic Four. Waltz boasts a long list of villainous roles, including Colonel Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds, Blofeld in the James Bond movies Spectre and No Time To Die, August in Water for Elephants, and Walter Keane in Big Eyes. The same knack for playing frighteningly arrogant villains that makes him a good candidate for Dr. Doom makes him an equally good candidate for the God of the Symbiotes, and perhaps even a better one given his ability to portray sadistic characters and characters with a volatile temper. The element that will best define his potential to play Knull will be whether the MCU casts him to play Dr. Doom or another villain first.
Marvel has swapped the gender of characters during the writing and casting processes before, notably casting Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One, May Calamawy as the Scarlet Scarab, and many actresses as previously male members of the Eternals. Should the studio take this route with Knull, Bonnie Aarons could play a chilling Queen in Black. Her roles as the demonic nun Valak in four of The Conjuring films and Baroness Joy von Troken in The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement show she can portray both the terrifying presence and the regal arrogance needed to bring Knull to the MCU. Aaron’s recurring role in both franchises also indicates she is prepared for the commitment of playing a character that, if done right, could frequently reappear in the MCU as it builds up to a King in Black crossover event.
While he starred as a romantic lead in numerous romantic comedies throughout the 2000s, Matthew McConaughey has a talent for playing serious, dark, and even outright brutal characters. McConaughey played sorcerer Randall Flagg in The Dark Tower, Vilmer Slaughter in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, and Joe Cooper in Killer Joe. These characters mirror Knull’s penchant for raw violence and his menacing aura to varying degrees. McConaughey reportedly enjoys playing villains, and he previously auditioned for the role of Bruce Banner, suggesting he would be open to playing the supremely evil King in Black and working with Marvel. His experience as a voice actor in Kubo and the Two Strings, Sing, and Sing 2 would also be an asset should the MCU use a CGI-heavy approach to bringing Knull to life.
Tom Cruise’s notorious David Letterman interview that inspired Christian Bale’s interpretation of psychopathic serial killer Patrick Bateman shows he can nail Knull’s signature unsettling smile. Cruise shares an often-underappreciated talent for playing violent villains with Matthew McConaughey. While better known for his heroic roles in action films such as Top Gun, The Last Samurai, and Mission Impossible and its many sequels, Cruise has also appeared as the sociopathic assassin Vincent in Collateral and the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt in Interview with the Vampire. Vincent’s cold demeanor could mix well with Lestat’s more fiery nature to create a Knull who is calmly arrogant but easily enraged and quickly resorts to violence. Cruise’s willingness to do his own stunts and deep familiarity with action sets also make him well-suited to the fast-paced, action-oriented Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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