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We Cast The MCU Fantastic Four
Marvel's First Family is coming. Who should play them?
NOTE: This story contains some spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
It’s 2022 and we officially live in a world where the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or Multiverse?) has access to the entire array of characters that fall under the Marvel umbrella. That’s hugely exciting, and even though we only got a taste of it in the new Doctor Strange movie, everyone and their mother knows with the X-Men and Spider-Man rosters comes a group of characters we’re all dying to see: The Fantastic 4.
Marvel’s First Family has had a rough go of it on the big screen, starting with a bad 1994 effort that was spat out simply so the studio could retain the characters’ rights. The first proper adaptation was done in 2005 by director Tim Story, starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, and Michael Chiklis. The 2005 effort, and its 2007 sequel featuring The Silver Surfer, are harmless superhero diversions, but hardly the quality of movie befitting characters with such storied (no pun intended) legacies.
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Then there was the 2015 Josh Trank debacle, which took a talented cast and an admittedly cool central idea — a superhero movie by way of David Cronenberg-esque body horror — and completely crapped the bed with weak action, poor character development, and enough behind-the-scenes drama to make the DC cinematic universe blush. We haven’t seen the Fantastic 4 on the big screen since then, but it looks like a new iteration is imminent.
If you saw John Krasinski as Reed Richards in Multiverse of Madness, don’t get your hopes up for him becoming a permanent member of the MCU. Recent comments by Sam Raimi indicate that the decision was made by Kevin Feige as a one-off. With that in mind, let’s take a look at who we think could make a great new Fantastic 4.
As a general note, these casting choices are based on the assumption that, even if Krasinski doesn’t become the permanent new Mr. Fantastic, he at least represents a target for what Marvel and Feige are ultimately aiming for in terms of the characters’ ages and general disposition.
Reed Richards / Mr. Fantastic
This is arguably the trickiest one to cast, in no small part because (spoiler alert) we’ve already met a version of Mr. Fantastic — played by fan-favorite John Krasinski, no less! Kevin Feige has been mum as to whether Krasinski is a permanent member of the Marvel family, which leads me to believe that he isn’t.
Enter Joel Edgerton, the supremely talented actor/director who you’ve probably seen in everything from Zero Dark Thirty to The Great Gatsby, Black Mass to The Green Knight. Even when playing smarmy characters, there’s an inherent decency to Edgerton that makes him likable and, more importantly, believable as one of the most intelligent people in the universe and someone who, perhaps unintentionally, can come off as a bit of a pompous ass.
Edgerton has done big movies before; perhaps most notably, the Ridley Scott-directed Exodus movie in which he played Rameses opposite Christian Bale’s Moses. Despite being a familiar face, he isn’t well-known enough to bring baggage to the role like Jim Halpert might. There are a lot of good choices for Reed Richards out there, but we really do think Edgerton might be the best of the bunch.
Sue Storm / The Invisible Woman
Constance Wu is no stranger to the spotlight, having been on a hit network TV show for years before successfully crossing over to features with lead roles in hits like Crazy Rich Asians and Hustlers. Like Edgerton, who would play he de facto romantic lead, Wu brings an innate intelligence and charisma to her roles that would translate naturally to Sue Storm. She’s got the talent and, more superficially, she’s certainly got the looks, and it would be great to see Marvel take the opportunity to diversify its First Family in ways we haven’t seen yet.
Johnny Storm / The Human Torch
As the first actor of Asian descent to be nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award, Steven Yeun’s talent is beyond reproach. And not just in Minari, but in films like Burning, Okja, and Sorry to Bother You, Yeun has displayed enormous range and sensitivity. His filmography so far may not exactly scream Johnny Storm — usually a brash, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants, almost Maverick-like hero who acts before he thinks — but A) there’s no indication that Yeun can’t deliver such a performance, and B) movies are adaptations and don’t have to just copy/paste the comic books onto the silver screen. Yeun’s casting would be the most wonderfully radical casting decision Marvel has made in years.
Ben Grimm / The Thing
Channing Tatum has spent years trying to be a Marvel superhero, albeit on the X-Men side of things. After his bid to play Gambit didn’t pan out, and after taking some time off from the industry, Tatum is on the comeback with The Lost City and more upcoming releases. Tatum fits the description of Ben Grimm to a T, an athlete who’s best friends with Reed Richards. Ideally, Tatum would wear extensive make-up like Michael Chiklis did in the Tim Story films, but even if they just use a manipulated version of his voice, Tatum has the experience from The Lego Movie franchise to pull that off, too. Tatum is, generally speaking, an underrated actor who should’ve received an Oscar nomination for Foxcatcher — whether he plays Grimm or not, Tatum would be a solid addition to the growing multiverse.
Victor Von Doom / Doctor Doom
Luke Evans can never seem to catch a break with franchises, after his Dracula Untold failed to launch a new Monster Universe for Universal and his appearance in Beauty and the Beast was inherently a one-off. There were whispers of Evans playing Namor in the MCU, but that no longer seems to be the case, and his name is one of several that occasionally pop up in conversations about the next James Bond. He’s a good actor who can play a villain to the hilt, but also give Doom the shades of grey he needs to sometimes be more of a fascinating anti-hero than an outright villain. In fact, Doom has the potential to be the Loki of the next big Marvel saga, and it would be loads of fun to have Luke Evans along for the ride.
What more needs to be said? Ken Watanabe is just good in everything he does. Name one bad performance of his — you can’t. He has the gravitas and acting ability to believably play the Fantastic 4’s de facto father figure. There are other fun choices — Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Chow Yun Fat, among others — but Watanabe is the right choice.