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Who should play the next Jack Ryan?

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It’s been seven years since Tom Clancy’s legendary character Jack Ryan was last seen on screen, and many thought Ben Affleck’s rendition in The Sum of All Fears put the final nail in a once powerful franchise. But according to producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, a Jack Ryan resurrection is in the works — and it won’t (contrary to Internet fodder) be George Clooney playing the suave government official. Why not? He’s too old.

Di Bonaventura told MTV.com this week that a script has been submitted to Paramount, the studio that owns the franchise, and that it was “well-received,” but the story follows Ryan in his early 30s. Now you may be saying, “Isn’t the younger Ryan what got this franchise in trouble in the first place?” Well, let’s recap.

After building a powerful cloak-and-dagger franchise in the early ’90s off the popular Clancy novels portraying an older Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October (Alec Baldwin), Patriot Games (Harrison Ford), and Clear and Present Danger (Ford again), 2002’s The Sum of All Fears featured Affleck’s Ryan as a wet-behind-the-ears CIA analyst. Though the film did have the highest opening weekend gross for the franchise ($31 mil), with lackluster reviews Fears ended up being its second lowest domestic grossing film (only Patriot Games did worse).   

It’s more likely it wasn’t the age of Ryan that dissuaded audiences but that Fears was a victim to the post-9/11  period when audiences didn’t want to see terrorist-related films. We certainly seem to be past that now, however, with the successful relaunch of the Bond franchise and all the Bourne films.

So who would you want to see play an early 30s Jack Ryan? Internet rumors have James Franco and Ryan Gosling in talks. Worthy candidates, but how about someone a little more under the radar…

Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

The (500) Days of Summer star (he’ll be 29 next year, but who’s counting) definitely has the looks, but what draws us to him is the intensity he would bring to the character (go watch him in Manic, Mysterious Skin, and Brick). For a franchise that needs a shot in the arm – and an actor they might want to potentially lock down for a sequel – he certainly has the goods.

So, PopWatchers, who do you want to see as the next Jack Ryan? Take our poll and then explain yourself in the comments.