An A-Team movie finally coming together?

Proposals and scripts for an A-Team movie have been going around for over a decade, but now it finally looks like it’s going to happen for real. The main cast seems set: Liam Neeson taking over George Peppard‘s role as Hannibal Smith; Bradley Cooper in Dirk Bennedict‘s role of Templeton Peck; Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in Mr. T‘s role of B.A. Baracus, and now Sharlto Copley in Dwight Schultz‘s role of H.M. Murdock. Jessica Biel is also apparently in the cast as an ex-fiance of Peck now hunting the team, and Watchmen‘s Patrick Wilson will play a CIA operative on the hunt for the team.

The story and characters will be updated so that they will be Iraq War veterans instead of Vietnam vets; what else will change or stay the same remains to be seen, though early pictures show an A-Team van much like the original’s.

As a die-hard A-Team fan for many decades, my feelings about the project have been mixed from the start. I read an early script for the project back in the 1990s which was truly dreadful, bearing virtually no resemblance to the characters and tone of the original series. But at this point I have to admit to at least a little curiosity of what will come about now that the film is genuinely going to happen, with an expected release date of June 11, 2010. I’m a big fan of Liam Neeson, although I don’t quite see him as Hannibal Smith without some major changes to the character. Murdock was always my favorite character so I’ve always been highly resistant to the idea of anyone other than Dwight Schultz in the role (Jim Carrey was long a rumor, but apparently “too expensive” for the project and I’m glad for that). Yet Sharlto Copley seems like a potentially good choice based on what I’ve seen of him so far after his breakout performance in District 9. That said, a lot of the longtime A-Team fans I know are decidedly not enthusiastic about the project, no matter who is cast in the roles because it won’t be the team they know and love.

If the film is successful – which of course is no guaranty – I’ll be curious about the effect on the fandom, which has been steadily chugging along for decades with a low profile but fairly continual stream of fanworks production. Will there be a separate fandom that develops for these new interpretations of the old characters, much as what happened with the Star Trek movie this year? Will the popular slash pairings change or be the same (if there are any slash pairings that take off?) Will there be conflict between the new and old fandom, or will the old fandom try to capitalize on the newfound interest in the A-Team and try to welcome new fans in to explore the world of the original series?

It should be interesting to see, and l’ll be following news about the new film with great interest as it develops.


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