Who should play Speed Racer?

The ’60s toon’s going to hit the screen. Who do you think should play Speedy? Plus: a history of Speed Racer’s road from TV to Hollywood.

Go Speed Racer, go! The Mach 5’s saw blades are whizzing once more now that Warner Bros. has put Speed Racer on the fast track for summer 2008. But reviving Speed, Spritle, Racer X, and Chim Chim has been about as easy as racing 800 miles through an erupting volcano (remember that episode?). Here’s how the live-action remake of the go-go ’60s Japanese cartoon got recharged:

1995Earth Girls Are Easy director Julien Temple was set to direct a $35 million version starring Johnny Depp from a script by J.J. Abrams, but bowed out after feeling like “a little cog in a huge machine that was basically designed to sell hamburgers and toys.”

1995 – 2001 — Depp followed Temple out the door. A series of directors including Gus Van Sant (who, like Temple, planned to shoot in Australia and Japan), Alfonso Cuarón (who was asked to shave $20 million off the budget), and music video director Hype Williams then slid behind the wheel for brief periods of time. Williams worked from a script cowritten by Prison Break creator Paul Scheuring, but the project never gained traction.

2004 — A pre-Wedding Crashers Vince Vaughn pitched a family-friendly version in which he would play Speed’s secret sibling, Racer X, and executive-produce. He told Variety, “I always liked the theme of the protective older brother who can’t reveal his identity.”

2006 — Under the supervision of Matrix producer Joel Silver, the Wachowski brothers have taken over the project, as well as the production offices of Bryan Singer’s now-defunct Logan’s Run remake on the WB lot, but will probably shoot this, their first directing gig since the Neo trilogy, in Europe, where they produced V for Vendetta.