Elite Squad series helmer José Padilha and The Killing star Joel Kinnaman have already spent a lot of time propping up their RoboCop reboot as a worthwhile endeavor, highlighting everything from the eponymous character’s updated costume to the contemporary sci-fi issues and ethical dilemmas that are going to be addressed in the film. However, that hasn’t been enough to get the majority of hardcore cinephiles on their side… yet.

A fresh batch of casting rumors for the new RoboCop have surfaced, suggesting the people behind this flick (including, Children of Men co-producers Marc Abraham and Eric Newman) are aiming for quality, rather than simply big name appeal. In case you didn’t pick up on that after critically-acclaimed folk like Padilha and Kinnaman were previously enlisted to direct and headline the movie, that is. Moving on…

The Tracking Board says that Oscar-nominee Edward Norton is currently circling the RoboCop reboot, with his eye on the role of… Norton, the “brilliant mastermind” responsible for turning brutally-murdered police officer Alex J Murphy (Kinnaman) into a deadly cyborg cop. Devoted RoboCop fans may recall that same character (as played by Miguel Ferrer) was named Morton in Paul Verhoeven’s original 1987 film.

Similarly decorated stars like Rebecca Hall and Gael García Bernal (ie. the new Zorro) are also said to be up for roles in RoboCop, as the two could, respectively, play Murphy’s wife and partner – who, in a melodramatic twist, start a relationship together, after Murphy is killed and resurrected as a half-machine. To top it off, Oscar-winner Sean Penn is apparently wanted to portray (get this) “a right-wing news reporter who sticks to his guns when it comes to his political views.”

When you judge solely by the collective acting resumes for Norton (Fight Club, American History X, 25th Hour), Hall (The Prestige, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Town) and Bernal (Y Tu Mamá También, The Motorcycle Diaries, Babel), it’s easy to recommend them for any role. Still, the idea of Penn playing a character who occupies the complete opposite end of the political spectrum as the outspoken actor does in real life – that’s especially attention-grabbing.

It’s certainly possible that none of the aforementioned people will actually end up appearing alongside Kinnaman in RoboCop. Still, the way this project continues to attract noteworthy acting talent – combined with Padilha’s obvious passion for re-telling this story – is enough to suggest this particular reboot won’t simply be the cash-grab, hack job that many moviegoers have already dismissed it as being.

RoboCop is scheduled to open in theaters around the U.S. on August 9th, 2013.

Source: The Tracking Board [via Comic Book Movie]