Stephen King’s Firestarter Remake Is Finally Fixing A Huge Casting Flaw

Stephen King's Firestarter Remake Is Finally Fixing A Huge Casting Flaw

Stephen King’s Firestarter has already been adapted into a movie and a miniseries, but its 2022 rendition is finally fixing a huge casting flaw.

A new movie adaptation of Stephen King’s Firestarter is on the way in 2022, one that fixes a regrettable casting error in past versions. Originally published by King in 1980, Firestarter isn’t a superhero story, although in some ways it feels like a possible X-Men spinoff. At the center of the plot is Charlie McGee, a young girl who possesses pyrokinetic powers as a result of her parents both undergoing secret experiments prior to her birth. That might sound like an advantage on paper, but Charlie has trouble controlling her potentially deadly abilities.

Somewhere else in the multiverse, it seems possible that Charlie might have been introduced to Professor Charles Xavier and become a mutant hero. In today’s media landscape dominated by comic book properties, it makes perfect sense that Universal has decided to resurrect Firestarter for the modern era as sort of a dark take on that genre. Relative newcomer Ryan Kiera Armstrong is set to play Charlie this time out, while Zac Efron portrays her father Andy, who possesses the ability to compel people to do things.

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Related: How Firestarter Can Avoid Pet Sematary’s Stephen King Remake Mistakes

That casting has been met without much objection, but the casting of another important role is finally going to correct an injustice. The main villain of Firestarter is a sadistic Vietnam War veteran named John Rainbird, a man hired by nefarious organization The Shop to capture Charlie and her father. As could be surmised from his surname, Rainbird is a Native American, specifically of the Cherokee tribe, and that aspect of his identity is a large part of his character. In both the 1984 Firestarter movie and the 2002 Firestarter: Rekindled miniseries, Rainbird was mistakenly played by a white actor. For Firestarter 2022, Indigenous Canadian actor Michael Greyeyes has been cast as Rainbird, finally respecting his heritage.

Michael Greyeyes firestarter casting featured

While Greyeyes isn’t an American – he’s a member of the Plains Cree tribe found in Saskatchewan – the casting of an Indigenous actor as Rainbird is a long overdue step forward for Firestarter adaptations to make. That’s not to say that George C. Scott in 1984 or Malcolm McDowell in Rekindled gave bad performances, as both are respected figures in Hollywood history. The problem is that casting white actors in Native American roles really shouldn’t have been a practice that lasted into the 1980s, much less the 2000s.

In the current era, Hollywood finally seems to agree that representation onscreen matters, but there still really aren’t that many prominent roles of Native American heritage written into most mainstream movies. It’s vital that such parts actually now be played by Indigenous performers for them to be fully realized, and casting an acclaimed veteran like Greyeyes (Fear the Walking Dead, True Detective) in the Rainbird role could finally allow one of King’s most despicable yet complex villains to get his just due. Perhaps that could also lead to a Firestarter movie that Stephen King doesn’t hate. Both Scott and McDowell played their versions big, and those big portrayals combined with their obvious lack of Native background made their Rainbirds feel a bit over the top and silly, almost like a caricature. A more grounded actor like Greyeyes can make Firestarter 2022’s Rainbird a deadly serious threat for Charlie McGee.

More: What Happened To Charlie McGee In Firestarter’s Forgotten Sequel

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Michael Kennedy
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Michael Kennedy is an avid movie and TV fan that’s been working for Screen Rant in various capacities since 2014. In that time, Michael has written over 2000 articles for the site, first working solely as a news writer, then later as a senior writer and associate news editor. Most recently, Michael helped launch Screen Rant’s new horror section, and is now the lead staff writer when it comes to all things frightening. A FL native, Michael is passionate about pop culture, and earned an AS degree in film production in 2012. He also loves both Marvel and DC movies, and wishes every superhero fan could just get along. When not writing, Michael enjoys going to concerts, taking in live professional wrestling, and debating pop culture. A long-term member of the Screen Rant family, Michael looks forward to continuing on creating new content for the site for many more years to come.

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