There’s no need to fear! Peter Dinklage is here!

At first, the notion of high-profile little-person Peter Dinklage starring in, of all things, Underdog, sounds like both the setup and the punchline for a puerile Adam Carolla-penned joke, but it also gives one reason to hope: If Peter Dinklage is involved, maybe a live-action, Disney-produced Underdog movie isn’t necessarily doomed to Rocky and Bullwinkle-dom. (Not that Dinklage’s presence is any sure guarantee of quality: Consider, if you will, Tiptoes. No, really — check it out. I’m not even going to tell you what it’s about. Only that it’s gloriously misbegotten.)

At any rate, the Station Agent star will not be playing the diminutive superpooch, who’s now a lab animal named Shoeshine, not an actual shoeshine boy. Despite Dinklage’s involvement, that detail right there means I probably won’t see this unless forced by my editorial overlords. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Now we’re totally going to force him!] No, Dinklage will play the heavy, one Simon Barsinister, an evil scientist who once tried to steal the earth’s water supply with something called the Big Dipper Machine. (Laugh it up, but I hear it’s a line item in Halliburton’s 2006 operating budget.)

Can Dinklage play the heavy? Oh yeah. He was a holy terror in Elf,and roared with gusto as Richard III at New York’s Public Theater. Asfor his image as a standard-bearer for little people, well… one doeswonder what he thinks of the impending, nightmarish-looking Wayans comedy LittleMan. One wonders many things about Little Man, including: Is this an argument for a cold and godless universe?

Whether or not Underdog hits, Dinklage is plenty busy. He’s got Penelope with Christina Ricci and Reese Witherspoon, as well as 3/5 of a Man alongside Anthony Mackie and Ving Rhames. Not to mention a CBS pilot, Ultra, which, we can only hope, does better than Threshold, his last job over at the Eye.