The Hunt for a New Jack Ryan

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Some casting possibilities just screw entertainingly with your head. For a day now I've been chewing on the news that Spider-man director Sam Raimi — Mr. Evil Dead — will head a franchise revival of Jack Ryan, the CIA agent created by author Tom Clancy and played by three actors in four different movies. Alec Baldwin played Ryan first in 1990's The Hunt for Red October. Harrison Ford, sixteen years older than Baldwin, replaced him in 1992's Patriot Games and 1994's A Clear and Present Danger. Then Ben Affleck, thirty years younger than Ford and fourteen years younger than Baldwin, stepped into the breach for 2002's The Sum of All Fears. Confused? Not me, as long as the movies hit the sweet spot. They mostly did, grossing nearly $800 million worldwide. My fave is A Clear and Present Danger, especially the scene in which Ford's Ryan dresses down the President. The Hunt for Red October is also a goodie, but Baldwin is upstaged by Sean Connery — it's hard to resist a Russian submarine captain with a Scottish accent. And Affleck basically got lost in the pyrotechnics of The Sum of All Fears.

Which leaves me with two critical questions:

1. Who is your favorite Jack Ryan so far?

I'm going with Ford, then Baldwin, then Affleck

2. Who is your pick to play Ryan in the new, younger-skewing franchise? (Hell, they're doing it with Daniel Craig as James Bond, why not here?)

I wouldn't kick if Ryan Gosling took a shot at the role. He's immensely talented and hasn't done a franchise film character as yet. That lets out Matt Damon, who is the once and forever Jason Bourne. Christian Bale is Batman. Jake Gyllenhall, maybe. Or Joaquin Phoenix? Could Casey Affleck pull it off and show up his older brother? Or how about Terrence Howard in the age of Obama? Or even Cate Blanchett, in the age of Hillary, and she can play it as either sex? Suggestions, please.