There's always been a simple pleasure that comes from hopping into a digital world and shooting your friends. From Doom, to Goldeneye, to Halo, many of the greatest video games ever made allow you to enter a digital battlefield and wage war against your fellow combatants. Overwatch is the latest major entrant into that proud genre. Like other shooters that came before, part of the joy of Overwatch comes from being able to prove your worth in a competitive arena. Unlike many of those other games, however, much of Overwatch’s appeal comes from the personality of its characters. These bombastic creations have the rare ability to draw you into the game’s world and feel a genuine sense of attachment to the chaos.
Those characters are also why many fans have found themselves dreaming of an Overwatch movie. While the game affords the player a few glimpses at its world and the characters that inhabit it, the fact that so much of the universe’s lore is kept under wraps has only fueled fans' desire for an extended look at the intangibles that make Overwatch special. Of course, if an Overwatch movie is going to work, the casting has to be perfect.
This is our take on Casting A Live-Action Overwatch Movie.
21 Bastion - N/A, Zenyatta - Feodor Chin, Winston - Crispin Freeman
These three are being grouped together for the simple reason that they will ultimately be CG characters in this live-action adaptation. Bastion is the easiest to cast as he’s a purely mechanical creation – minus his bird companion – who speaks in beeps and boops. No notable actor is required to play him. Zenyatta and Winston are a little more interesting in that they do actually have dialog and therefore could be played by big name talents.
Instead, we’re opting to give Zenyatta and Winston’s voice actors the job. That approach is a little easier to argue in the case of Zenyatta, given that the robotic character’s distinctly modified tones don’t leave much room for someone to actually apply their own acting style, but there is an argument that someone could make Winston their own. However, as a non-CG Winston would likely be a pretty awkward prospect, it doesn’t seem worth it to recast the actor when you consider what a fantastic job Crispin Freeman has done with the role.
20 Torbjorn – John Rhys-Davies
Let’s get a bit of dream/obvious casting out of the way, shall we? Torbjorn tends to either be people’s favorite Overwatch character or their least favorite. Mostly, that’s due to the fact that his fighting style involves building turrets and babysitting them throughout the match. As a character, though, he’s brimming with personality. His classic quips stem from his veteran status, and his direct sense of humor is delivered with enthusiasm.
Really, who could play him better than the incomparable John Rhys-Davies? Torbjorn, as a character, clearly sports some similarities to Lord of the Rings’ Gimli. Specifically, he sports some similarities with Davies’ portrayal of Gimli in the Peter Jackson’s films. The two aren’t a mirror image, but the similarities are apparent enough to make the Davies the obvious choice for any Overwatch dream casting list. He’s the one guy who could make this role memorable no matter how much screen time Torbjorn gets.
19 Symmetra – Priyanka Chopra
While we’re on the subject of characters that prefer to let their turrets do the talking, let’s take a look at Symmetra. In recent weeks, Symmetra’s popularity as an in-game character selection has grown as her power level has. However, the truth is that she is still somewhat of an understated character. Much of her personality is associated with her unique arsenal, which has changed drastically since the game’s launch. What many don’t know is that Symmetra is a technological prodigy who considers herself to be on the autism spectrum.
She’s a complicated character, one that Priyanka Chopra could absolutely nail. American audiences haven’t had a chance to see much of Chopra – her biggest overseas role thus far has been as the lead in the ABC series, Quantico - but she has a wonderfully understated style that should perfectly compliment the equally understated style of Symmetra. Also, she’s a dead ringer for the character’s look, which is always a plus.
18 Lucio – Donald Glover
Lucio has been a fan favorite since Overwatch launched, and with good reason. From a gameplay standpoint, his unique ability to accelerate the movement speed of his team while also serving as a healer makes him the ultimate utility pick. Lucio’s greatest asset, however, is his personality. His unwavering enthusiasm and entirely unique ability to incorporate music into his offensive repertoire justify his celebrity status within the game’s world and amplify his role as a true support character.
There are a few great candidates for the role, but Donald Glover stands out from the pack. As anyone who has seen Community will tell you, Glover is capable of making an audience fall in love with him by virtue of his almost childlike enthusiasm. Fans who've been following the performer’s recent efforts (such as his contributions to the Golden Globe-winning FX series, Atlanta) know that he’s also able to use comedy to deliver a more serious message. That's an admirable quality when you’re looking for someone to play a character who once spurred on a rebellion through music.
17 Junkrat – Jai Courtney
Junkrat is a pure caricature in the best way possible. With his soot-covered features, missing leg, singed clothes, and flame-tipped hair, even an uninformed observer could tell you that Junkrat is an explosives expert after taking just one look at the maniacal munitions mercenary. Junkrat’s entire mission within your average Overwatch game is to cause mass chaos and disrupt the enemy team. He’s a frustrating presence made all the more infuriating by virtue of his grating personality and penchant for fits of high-pitched laughter.
When looking for an Aussie to properly bring Junkrat to life, the choice has to be Jai Courtney. Actually, when you think back on it, Courtney’s performance in Suicide Squad as Captain Boomerang could easily be viewed as an extended audition for the role. This character, however, would allow the magnetic actor to simply go all out and truly embrace his unhinged side.
16 Hanzo - Hiroyuki Sanada
Hanzo has become something of a meme amongst the Overwatch community. As a lone wolf character that demands fairly respectable accuracy from the player that chooses him, he has turned into the go-to source of player frustrations from both teams. In Overwatch lore, Hanzo is a master assassin who was thrust into the role of clan leader. He was required to kill his brother – more on him in a moment – in order to solidify his position, and spent the rest of his life trying to put as any bodies as possible between himself and his regretful action.
The role calls for a veteran Japanese actor who is able to convincingly convey a scarred soul, which is why Hiroyuki Sanada is the clear pick. Sanada has appeared as a warrior who sticks to the ancient ways many times in previous films (47 Ronin, The Wolverine), leaving no doubt as to his ability to bring Hanzo to life.
15 Genji - Tadanobu Asano
Genji is the aforementioned brother of Hanzo. Whereas his big bro prefers to take his targets out from a distance, Genji holds to the way of the ninja, which afford him a bit of variety in terms of assassination methods. His already incredible skills were further increased by the cybernetic implants Genji had to have installed following his brother’s failed attempt to kill him. He’s the ultimate warrior on the outside, and a tortured soul within.
Given that Genji is likely going to be in a costume most of the time in a live-action Overwatch film, and therefore subject to a great deal of CG and stunt work, so casting him is actually quite difficult. The choice, however, ultimately goes to Tadanobu Asano, who you may know from his work as Hogun from the Thor films. Asano can convincingly portray a fighter, but his work in more dramatic films is what really sells his ability to play a wounded warrior.
14 Roadhog – Vinnie Jones
Roadhog is a self-described one-man apocalypse and the best friend of Junkrat. He was still relatively young when the invading omnic army turned his home into a wasteland and forced him to don a gas mask. Following that crisis, Roadhog turned to a life of crime and became known as one of the most dangerous men in the world. He’s the bull in a china shop that most decent people fear, and is typically the center of some unheralded act of chaos.
He’s also relatively silent most of the time, which means that the actor playing him needs to be immediately established as a true threat based on their physicality alone. That quality is what makes veteran actor Vinnie Jones the clear pick, even if Jones would need to work in some prosthetics in order to achieve Roadhog’s signature physique. If Jones can make the Juggernaut (mostly) work, he can sure make Roadhog a threat.
13 Mei - Bingbing Fan
It’s not long into most people’s Overwatch journeys before they realize that Mei is designed to be the bane of your existence. She’s able to manipulate ice in several ways, which all usually translate to freezing you where you stand or otherwise making it so you can no longer move through your desired path. Her stall tactics become all the more frustrating when paired with her unwavering optimism and cutesy demeanor.
Mei remains a slightly mysterious and underdeveloped Overwatch character, but the traits of the bespectacled heroine we know with certainty make Bingbing Fan an excellent casting choice. Many will likely know her best from her role as Blink in X-Men: Days of Future Past, but her career in China includes numerous instances of her serving as the heart of an action film. She’s able to convincingly hold her own when it all goes down, but it’s her sparkling personality that helps her truly shine as an actor.
12 D.Va – Jamie Chung
D.Va is certainly the most meta member of the Overwatch roster. As a professional StarCraft player turned mech pilot warrior, she’s essentially the ultimate anime hero. At only 19 years old, D.Va – a.k.a. Hana Song – still treats the act of battle like a video game. Her calls of “nerf this” and “gg” almost break the game’s fourth wall and make D.VA one of the most compelling characters in the game.
Much like Genji, casting the role of D.VA requires a bit of care, as much of her time is spent within the confines of a suit. When Song is required to step out of the suit and stand on her own, however, Jamie Chung is our pick to help make the character stand out. The actress' work in Big Hero 6 as the spunky, mechanically obsessed Go Go should be a pretty good indication as to what kind of magic she could bring to the screen in this role.
11 Reaper – Demián Bichir
Gabriel Reyes is not a man cosplaying as death; he is death. Well, at least as close to the living embodiment of death as the world of Overwatch will ever know. Reaper’s dual shotguns have echoed his malicious intent throughout several fields of battle, while his mysterious nature puts him closer to myth than man. Once upon a time, Reyes was known as one of the most controversial operatives in the world. Now, he’s largely viewed as a terrorist.
The role of Reaper is much more complicated than the character’s in your face play style, but it’s one that Demián Bichir should be able to play admirably. How can’t you love the idea of a man deemed magnetic enough to play Fidel Castro in Che donning the mask of Reaper? So much of Reaper’s character comes through his voice work, which means Bichir’s distinct and commanding tones become all the more valuable.
10 Sombra - Sandra Echeverría
As the newest member of Overwatch, Sombra is still finding her place in the game’s world. She was teased through “leaks” and “hacks” over the course of months, which made her eventual debut as one of the world’s best hackers that much more appropriate. Sadly, as she is so new, we know painfully little about the character. What has been gleaned from outside materials, though, is that she served as a kind of Robin Hood-type once upon a time, though she differentiated herself from the classic literary character through her eventual fondness for keeping the money for herself.
The still somewhat mysterious nature of Sombra is certainly a barrier when it comes to casting, but we feel that Sandra Echeverría can play the role regardless of what it calls for. Echeverría only recently started landing her first mainstream international roles – such as her appearance in The Secret Life of Pets – but she’s been one of the most impressive young actresses out there today.
9 Ana - Shohreh Aghdashloo
Ana is the second newest addition to the Overwatch roster and has recently become a bit of a fan favorite. Her ability to heal and kill from afar thanks to her modified sniper rifle make her a deadly tool in the hands of the right player. In terms of lore, Ana is the actual mother of fellow Overwatch member Pharah, and the spiritual den mother of the group of heroes as a whole. Her maternal nature manifests itself as battlefield leadership.
As a mysterious member of our own editorial team pointed out, veteran actress Shohreh Aghdashloo is pretty much the perfect choice to play Ana. Some of you might know her from her appearance in Star Trek Beyond as Commodore Paris, while others will recognize her as the voice of Admiral Shala'Raan vas Tonbay from Mass Effect 2. Anyone familiar with her work will appreciate her ability to take over any scene with her warm, yet commanding, presence.
8 Pharah – Gal Gadot
With her ability to fly high above the fray and rain justice – or, as some call them, rockets – down from above, Pharah is known as one of the most versatile and frustrating of all Overwatch combatants. As the daughter of Ana, she was raised from birth to be the kind of hero warrior that the world needs in its darkest moments. That means she is not only capable in combat, but as an inspirational leader as well.
Who better to play one of Overwatch’s most iconic roster members than the increasingly popular Gal Gadot? While the actress would likely be a tougher get these days given that she landed that pretty sweet Wonder Woman gig recently, there really is no other performer that brings to the table what she does in terms of replicating Pharah’s look and dominant presence. She’s one of the cornerstone casting options on this list.
7 McCree – Jon Bernthal
At first glance, McCree is one of the simplest Overwatch characters. In a world full of omnipotent omnics and beat-dropping revolutionists, the appearance of a fairly standard cowboy feels a bit odd. McCree, however, is no mere gunslinger. He’s an incredibly talented shooter on a quest for vengeance, redemption, and purpose. He knows he’s an excellent killer, but he’s unsure of exactly how to apply his talents to the world in order to make it a better place. His retention of the old ways seems to speak to his longing for a simpler time.
There’s no shortage of capable actors who could play this classic role, but so far as the hottest hand goes, Jon Bernthal get the nod. His slight southern drawl and fondness for playing men feared far and wide for their ability to turn a gun into justice – namely The Punisher – means that Bernthal could breathe a little life into Overwatch’s most misunderstood member.
6 Reinhardt – Til Schweiger
Some men and women rely on guns, high-tech tools, and dubstep cannons to make their mark on the world. Reinhardt needs only his hammer and armor. Well, okay, he also has access to a high-powered bionic barrier which serves as his team protecting shield, but the point stands that Reinhardt is a classically imagined knight in the futuristic kingdom of Overwatch. He’s the centerpiece of just about any Overwatch squad and usually serves as the group’s unshakable bastion for truth and justice.
As evidenced by his terrifying performance in Inglourious Basterds, Til Schweiger was born to play Reinhardt. Physically, he’s only a few pounds of muscle away from being able to meet the character’s absurd comic book physique, while his strong German accent and the way that he so effortlessly intimidates all who dare stand near him match some of the character’s defining qualities. Someone, somewhere, please make this happen.
5 Zarya – Gwendoline Christie
Once upon a time, Aleksandra Zaryanova was one of Russia’s most famous athletes. Believed to be the strongest woman in the world, Zarya rose to fame as both a professional competitor and a soldier. Her life changed when the omnic menace – as she may say – turned her home into a war zone. When an attack interrupted her world championship bodybuilding run, she was forced to fight the omnics head-on. In the process, she became the symbol of the Russian people’s desire for victory.
Like fellow tank Reinhardt, the choice for Zarya’s actress is clear. Many people were first introduced to Gwendoline Christie when she donned the armor of Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones. Since then, she has been finding steady work as an Amazonian wonder whose physical presence is capable of intimidating even the strongest of heroes. Who wouldn’t want to see Christie sport some spiked pink hair and a laser cannon?
4 Mercy – Rosamund Pike
What band of soldiers doesn’t come to rely on their medic? While Overwatch’s support class plays host to some of the game’s most memorable characters, there’s nobody on the roster quite like Mercy. She’s a pure healer who uses her biotic staff to generate rays of light that can bolster an ally's attack or heal their wounds. She rarely resorts to combat, but her willingness to deftly dance between spots of danger means that her toughness and resolve have never been called into question.
It’s that last quality which makes Rosamund Pike the perfect Mercy candidate. As seen in films such as Gone Girl and Jack Reacher, Pike is capable of exhibiting an independent mean streak which proudly proclaims her ability to stand toe-to-toe with some real terrors. Her classically beautiful looks, meanwhile, make her the exact kind of angelic presence that soldiers dream of seeing as they lay wounded on the battlefield.
3 Tracer – Felicity Jones
For many people, Tracer has become the unofficial mascot of Overwatch. Well, mostly unofficial. She is on the cover of the game, after all. Even if that weren’t the case, it’s likely that many fans would have gravitated towards Tracer’s unique ability to time skip around the battlefield or her infectious personality, punctuated by outbursts of optimism. She's one of those heroes who takes her work very seriously, but sometimes manages to hide that fact by displaying an attitude of sheer joy.
Even though it feels like Felicity Jones has been in everything as of late, and there are many great candidates for this role, the 33-year-old actress still feels like the best option. She’s an immensely capable leading lady who should relish the chance to play a character that is brimming with positive energy rather than one of the classically dramatic characters she so often excels at portraying.
2 Widowmaker - Eva Green
If one could go into a lab and engineer the perfect assassin from test tubes and blackboards, the final product would be Widowmaker. While she had a life before becoming one of the world’s greatest assassins, most know her – or, more accurately, fear her – as a coldhearted killer whose humanity is deafened by the ringing kill shots that emerge from her sniper rifle. Her modified physical traits caused her heart to slow and her skin to turn blue, but her shapely form still exhibits the classic beauty she once possessed in another time.
French beauty Eva Green is, quite simply, the perfect choice for the part of Widowmaker. Actually, Green should be Widowmaker for the simple reason that we don’t get to see enough of her in action-oriented roles. She’s appeared in action-heavy films like Casino Royale, but she so rarely gets the kind of starring attention she deserves. C'mon, Hollywood, get it together.
1 Soldier: 76 - Stephen Lang
In terms of game design, Solider: 76’s purpose is to give players who are more familiar with traditional first-person shooters the chance to play as a character that would feel right at home in said games. He’s a Swiss army knife character. Story-wise, Soldier: 76 was once a man named Jack Morrison. In a simpler time, he was the golden-haired leader of Overwatch and an ideal hero. Eventually, the public turned against him and only forgave him upon his supposed death. Morrison didn’t die, however. He returned as a vigilante motivated by a sense of duty.
This casting choice is something of a cheat, as Stephen Lang would make a frighteningly perfect Soldier: 76. From his salty hair and growling voice to his consistent ability to come across as the most senior tough guy in any room of tough guys, Lang was born to play a grizzled veteran like Morrison.
Who would you cast to star in an Overwatch film? Let us know in the comments.