One of Superman’s iconic villains in the upcoming Superman ’78 series was inspired by an actor known for his role in the original Westworld film. The artist for Superman ’78, Wilfredo Torres, discussed his inspiration for Brainiac’s design on social media. Given the timeframe for the movie and the actor’s credit list, it seems fitting that Yul Brynner would serve as inspiration for one of Superman’s greatest foes.
Yul Brynner is best known for his award-winning role as King Mongkut, ruler of Siam, in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1951 Broadway musical, The King and I, as well as the film adaptation of it. However, he had numerous other film roles including as Chris Adams in The Magnificent Seven (1960) and Return of the Seven (1966), making his Westworld (1973) and Futureworld (1976) roles as the Gunslinger extra fitting. Playing an android against Christopher Reeve’s Superman would have made for an intriguing casting choice.
On Twitter, Superman ’78 artist Wilfredo Torres shared some sketches of Brainiac for this series. Within his Tweet, he mentioned thinking about Yul Brynner while early in the design process. This series, like Batman ’89, continues the adventures of the Man of Steel in the style of the 1978 film, Superman. The Batman ’89 series features versions of characters that reflect the original film cast, including Billy Dee Williams as the version of Two-Face that was never seen despite the actor playing Harvey Dent. Now, when considering who may have played Brainiac, Torres initially came up with Brynner, despite the supervillain never appearing in the films in any way.
As seen in the character study, Brainiac has a very stern look that is highly reminiscent of the one that Yul Brynner was known for. His expressions mirror Brynner’s very well and shows that this would have been a promising casting on paper. The gravitas that Brynner displayed in his Westworld role and in other performances throughout his career perfectly matches the seriousness of Brainiac. In addition, the fact that he did play an android very well makes it seem possible that this is a role he would have fit into rather well. A calculating robotic villain that doesn’t waste words and speaks matter-of-factly with particular goals in mind wouldn’t be an easy role, but Brynner would have done well and his aesthetic certainly matches a Brainiac suited for the ’70s.
As mentioned previously, this newest film-inspired comic series will channel Richard Donner’s take on the Man of Steel. It brings back Christopher Reeve’s Superman, Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane, Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor, and Jackie Cooper’s Perry White, while introducing new characters who were never seen on screen, like Brainiac. The creative team of Robert Venditti, Wilfredo Torres, Jordie Bellaire, and Dave Lanphear have a lot to live up to, but so far this new DC series seems very promising. Fans can see the newest iteration of the Westworld-inspired Brainiac and revisit an iconic superhero film when Superman ’78 #1 releases on August 24, 2021.
Source: Wilfredo Torres