Archenemy: Skylan Brooks Talks Film, Love of DC, and Joe Manganiello

While the indie superhero film Archenemy explores some dark places, star Skylan Brooks provides the glimmer of hope to get things moving as Hamster, the sidekick of Max Fist, played by Joe Manganiello. I spoke with Brooks about how Hamster fits into Max's paradigm, becoming his inspiration and drive to try to get his powers back.
"You don't get many stories that tell the emotional side of the hero," Brooks said. "I really gravitated to that. I feel like Hamster is a necessary mixture of hope, action, and a little bit of comedy relief to get Max Fist on track to get his powers back." When it comes to comics to look into, director Adam Egypt Mortimer evoked Superman to Brooks. "[Adam] always referred a little bit to Superman in finding the responsibility of your power, but beyond that, the equivalent to where the power of where Max Fist was comparable to Superman at first," he said. Personally, he also looked into the Caped Crusader.

Archenemy: Skylan Brooks Talks Film, Love of DC, and Joe Manganiello
Skylan Brooks as Hamster in Archenemy (2020). Image courtesy of RLJE Films

"What I did was I looked into the redemption story of superheroes," Brooks continued. "One of the mainstream heroes I looked at was Batman. I looked into Batman because his family was killed. He took that burden a lot on his own, but he didn't want revenge. For Max Fist, it feels like was a sense of getting back home and kind of getting his revenge with how he was sent to earth and lost his powers. I just compare it to a couple of things here and there watching those two superheroes. Our story tells the emotional rawness and what happens after you lose those powers." Manganiello's Max told stories to anyone who'd listen, and Brook's Hamster was the one most engaged, becoming a kind of kindred spirit.

Archenemy: Joe Manganiello Shines in Grounded Superhero Tale
Joe Manganiello as Max Fist and Skylan Brooks as Hamster in Archenemy (2020). Image courtesy of RLJE Films.

"Hamster doesn't necessarily think of…I think people see him as sort of a leap of faith sense that people called him 'crazy,'" Brooks said. "It's more of an innate thing. I don't think Hamster stops and thinks enough, actually. He doesn't think. He just does it. When he sees Max Fist, he puts two and two together. His first motivation is to tell the story because his dad was a storyteller, and he doesn't have him in his life anymore. He puts everything into his dreams to make them reality. When he hears about a guy from a different dimension, and he sees the sheer size of who this guy is. It piques his interest, so not only do I (as Hamster) want to see if it's true, but I also want to help you believe that it's true. He kind of fools himself and puts himself in a lot of sticky situations where if he thought about the danger of walking around with a bum and the fact he has blue blood, he probably is like, 'This isn't what I'm supposed to be doing.'"

Archenemy: Joe Manganiello Shines in Grounded Superhero Tale
Archenemy (2020) poster courtesy of RLJE Films

Brooks credits the rapport he has with Manganiello to how he carries himself, especially how much he brings to Max coming from his theatre background. "We had like a month of rehearsals," the Castle Rock star said. "Around that time, I was back and forth between [TV] shows. When I was there, we'd spend maybe 3 or 4 hours together throughout the weeks, and that's when we developed character relationships and kind of a bond where we can piggyback off of each other. I like to say we spent about three months shooting the film. Throughout shooting, we started to crack jokes here and there. It was a great combination. Joe's a great actor with his theatre background. I think it's admirable that he's able to clock in his character. I wanted to do the same thing and bring that same intensity."

Brooks admits that if it weren't for the fact he was under the weather during Archenemy's production, he would have a far better time, especially growing up a DC Comics fan. As he was introduced to Marvel, the actor also developed an appreciation for the brand through their cinematic universe. There is one role he plans to audition for the DC hero in Static, which was already adapted to an animated series in Static Shock. "There's a Static Shock film early in pre-production, and I would love to take a crack at that," he said. Brooks can also be seen in the FOX series Empire. Archenemy, which also stars Zolee Griggs, Glenn Howerton, Paul Scheer, and Amy Seimetz, is currently available in theatres, digital, and on-demand from RLJE Films.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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