As devoted Newsreel readers know, there’s a battle of the Jungle Books (or should that be Jungles Book?) going on in Hollywood right now, with Walt Disney producing a live-action version of the Rudyard Kipling classic, to be directed by Jon Favreau, and Warner Bros. making its own live-action Kipling movie called Jungle Book: Origins, directed by Andy Serkis. Actors have been lining up on either side of the Jungle Book divide, signing on to provide the voices for the two movies’ animal characters. Idris Elba has already agreed to voice the villainous tiger Shere Khan in Disney’s Jungle Book; and now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Benedict Cumberbatch will play Serkis’ Shere Khan.
Cumberbatch is a pretty on-the-nose choice for this role, given that he’s already played a guy named Khan and he’s already voiced an evil CGI creature. (Serkis could probably just cut together audio outtakes from Star Trek Into Darkness and The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, and Cumberbatch wouldn’t even have to come in to the office.) But the more the big names keep piling up for these movies, the more I wish we could see some kind of crossover event, like back in the 1970s and 1980s when DC and Marvel would occasionally let Superman fight Spider-Man, or The X-Men and The Teen Titans team up. Shere Khan versus Shere Khan. Elba versus Cumberbatch. Make it so, Hollywood.
UPDATE: According to THR, Benedict Tigerbatch will be joined by Christian Bale (Begheera), Cate Blanchett (Kaa), Naomie Harris (Nisha), Tom Hollander (Tabaqui), Eddie Marsan (Vihaan), and Peter Mullan (Akela). Mowgli will played by Bad Words’ Rohan Chand and Serkis himself will play Baloo.