5 Recasting Sins

For gamers, the release of Mass Effect 3 earlier this month should have been a moment of celebration. ME3 is the final installment in an epic sci-fi RPG trilogy by Edmonton-based studio Bioware, the hallmark of which is that it allows users to design their own version of Commander Shepard, the lead character— essentially, an avatar whose likeness and choices made within each installment are transferable from one sequel to the next.

Which is why it was so devastating for those who picked up ME3 to be hit by an unmissable glitch: Your character was still imported, but missing one thing — the face. A small detail, perhaps, but the blowback has been huge. Via forums, outraged gamer responses range from “mildly irritated” to “infuriated” by a title some of them now refused to play. On March 21, Bioware announced that a patch to fix the import issue was on the way (yet to arrive, with no timeline provided).

Did the fans over-react? Sure, but it makes enough sense, in a certain context. We can all take something from this curious incident: a telling sign of what might be the future of narrative, in any medium.

Pop culture recastings have affected other media in the past. Here are just four examples; if there’s one you expected to see and didn’t, hit us in the Comments.

Harry Potter
Muggles of all kinds had to contend with the recasting of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore, after actor Richard Harris passed away. Michael Gambon picked up the wand and carried on the role from the third movie onwards; he acquitted himself well overall (spectacularly in The Half-Blood Prince), but there’s no doubt that that first venture, The Prisoner of Azkaban, felt uncomfortable.

In the British sci-fi TV series about superpowered young offenders, foul-mouthed immortal Nathan played by Robert Sheehan got replaced by a whole new character and actor, whose job was to be…a foul-mouthed immortal. Transition was mostly seamless, since it was a new character, albeit the same one.

Batman 1
While Batman has been played by many actors, it’s not as frequent that the supporting players get the same treatment, let alone in the same series. Billy Dee Williams was to be the original Two-Face in the late ‘80s Tim Burton films, but was replaced by Tommy Lee Jones when director Joel Schumacher hijacked the franchise. Fans didn’t mind because, well, Lando Calrissian as Two-Face?

Batman 2
Fast-forward one decade past the “Burton-look” Batman to the Christopher Nolan films, Bruce Wayne’s main squeeze Rachel Dawes transforms between the first and second installments from Katie Holmes to Maggie Gyllenhaal. This time, did anyone even notice? No doubt which actor has better acting chops, but it’s not like the Nolan scripts give either of them much to work with.

Image courtesy of midhras

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