It looks like 20th Century Fox is going ahead with their reboot of the Fantastic Four, and many fans are already up in arms over that development. They fear the reboot will be as bad as previous attempts and the negative reaction is so intense that many are hoping it stays in development hell rather than being filmed.
What is so troubling for them and myself included are the casting choices being mentioned in the trade papers. While Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch is an intriguing, though out-of-left-field possibility, some like Miles Teller as Mr. Fantastic just left me wondering what the hell is going on with the casting director. Has anyone looked at this actor? He looks like a dweeb! I’m sorry but nothing about Teller gives the impression that he is a gifted scientist type. And given how young he is, it’s pretty clear that the filmmakers are going to emulate the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic book, which if you ask me wasn’t good at all. The comic book isn’t even being published anymore! Making the superhero team a bunch of child prodigies was a mistake and took out vital parts of what makes the team so fun. See, they’re a family unit, with Reed Richards as the father figure, Ben Grimm as the grumpy but lovable uncle, Sue Storm as the mother figure and her brother Johnny being the impulsive kid in the bunch.
But that doesn’t seem to be the way that Fox is going. Getting a bunch of young actors for these roles is more important to them since they want the movie to appeal to the teenagers. The problem is that the kind of teenagers they’re trying to attract don’t care about the Fantastic Four and probably wouldn’t see the reboot anyway. Then many of the teenagers that do care about the FF will probably be so turned off by the radical changes that they will boycott the film.
Let’s pretend that we’re actually in charge of casting the Fantastic Four reboot. Forget about trying to get the popular young actor and let’s try to stay faithful to the comics. After all, the Fantastic Four put Marvel Comics on the map with their novel approach to super heroics. Now I know that the following choices won’t even be considered, but they’re who I would pick for a new Fantastic Four film.
Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic: Going with a twentysomething is the wrong approach to Marvel’s premier scientist. Reed is the 21st century equivalent of an Einstein and he should look the part. As the leader of the Fantastic Four, Mr. Fantastic should be portrayed by a more mature yet fit actor. There are many excellent choices out there for the role and even Ioan Gruffudd did a decent job as Mr. Fantastic. For the reboot Jon Hamm would be fabulous (pun intended) as Reed Richards. He’s the right age for the part (Reed is roughly in his early forties), looks intelligent and emotes a grounded and mature quality needed for the leadership role. Other choices: Casey Affleck; Misha Collins
Sue Storm/Invisible Woman: Jessica Alba, the previous actress to portray Richards’ fiancé then wife rankled many fans who didn’t think she was right for the part. Putting aside her ethnicity, Alba lacked that motherly/big sister/peacekeeper quality needed for the role, but she wasn’t the worst casting choice–more on that later. Now hands down, Alice Eve, most recently seen on Star Trek Into Darkness is a perfect pick for Sue Storm. She looks the part and has the acting chops to pull off the role easily. Eve can do the more brainy and modern interpretation of Storm seen in the comics and can be a tough lady when needed. Other choices: Evan Rachel Wood; Blake Lively
Ben Grimm/The Thing: Everyone’s lovable blue-eyed Thing needs to be played by a tough, imposing actor who looks as if he came from the rough streets of New York (they still do exist). Now while he may not be blue-eyed, Jon Bernthal would make a great Ben Grimm. He has the acting ability to play a tough and grizzled superhero who just wants to be human again. Just make sure the mo-cap suit is top of the line to capture Bernthal’s expressions. They could go with the traditional mask and suit but the Thing is supposed to be massive. The way he looked in the past films was actually a throwback to his earliest appearance. Still in spite of Michael Chiklis’ performances, many fans complained that he didn’t look like the way he did in the comics. Other choices: Brian Austin Green; Tyreese Gibson
Johnny Storm/The Human Torch: Chris Evans’ take on the Human Torch was one of the best casting choices ever done for live-action superheroes. Evans is certainly a tough act to follow and believe it or not I think Michael B. Jordan would be fine as Johnny Storm. He gives off that cocky, bold and expressive personality that defines Storm. However, given the controversy that is being generated by that choice, it may be prudent to play it safe because frankly director Josh Trank needs to hit this film out of the ball park. He may want to consider Alex Russell, the other actor from his film Chronicle. Russell quietly stole the film as the extroverted jock type who reluctantly evolves into a true superhero when the situation called for one. He’s shown he can do brash and impulsive and picking him as Johnny Storm, Sue’s younger, college-age brother is a no-brainer. Other choices: Andrew Lee Potts; Aaron Paul
Victor Von Doom/Dr. Doom: This role is very important. Victor Von Doom is the premier bad guy in Marvel Comics and the Fantastic Four’s greatest villain. Julian McMahon, who previously played Doom, was a poor choice for the role. Actually he was the worst thing about the last two Fantastic Four movies because he lacked the gravitas and imposing demeanor that defines Doom. This supreme villain needs to be portrayed by someone with high-caliber acting ability. The common trend with these superhero movies is to cast a noted actor as the main villain, usually an award winner or nominee. Let’s not break tradition, besides it would be a bone thrown to nervous studio execs worried about the lack of star power in the film. Just go with Kenneth Branagh as Dr. Doom. He certainly has the acting ability and the credentials. More importantly, he brings a certain air of regality, which is part of Doom’s background. The guy is the ruler of his own kingdom after all. Other choices: Ralph Fiennes; Viggo Mortensen
As for the supporting characters in the proposed reboot, well, I really don’t care, they can cast anyone they like. Just keep Stan Lee on as Willie Lumpkin! On a serious note, if Fox decides to go with the rumored picks then don’t be surprised if the film winds up underperforming. In the end that can be a good thing, since it will mean that eventually the rights for the Fantastic Four will revert back to Marvel, who has been able to successfully translate their characters into the big screen.
T. Rod Jones