We don’t know much about Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four reboot, besides the semi-fact that Michael B. Jordan is maybe-probably playing the Human Torch. (Though Michael B. Jordan is also maybe-probably in every movie coming out between now and 2016.) But The Hollywood Reporter claims that the 20th Century Fox film has begun the casting search in earnest, auditioning new actors to play the cosmic ray-ified superheroes. The report also claims that Michael B. Jordan is definitely playing the Human Torch, although Fox would not comment on that or any casting detail when contacted by EW.
Let’s assume for the sake of argument/awesomeness that Jordan is playing Human Torch. Who should play the roles of Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, and The Thing – not to mention Doctor Doom, the Four’s number one baddie? Let’s take a look.
The superteam’s leader is one of the great hero-nerds in comic books, a brainy scientist given to feats of deductive reasoning. He requires someone who can make technobabble sound fascinating, and also someone who can make Mr. Fantastic’s stretch-power look cool and not ridiculous. The obvious choice for this, as with so many things, is Benedict Cumberbatch, who unfortunately seems a bit old for Trank’s twentysomething team. The Reporter claims the currently ascendant Miles Teller auditioned for the part. Teller’s done great work recently in The Spectacular Now and looks poised for a breakout.
But Teller could vibe a bit young for a brilliant megascientist. Why not go just a bit older with another recent indie breakout? Oscar Isaac earned considerable praise for Inside Llewyn Davis, where he managed to find something slightly endearing in a cosmically dismissive total-bastard protagonist – a nice fit for the prickly-but-lovable Reed Richards.
The Invisible Woman
The Reporter name-checks Kate Mara and Emmy Rossum as hot contenders for the role of Sue Storm, love interest for Mr. Fantastic. Both are excellent choices – Mara is blond now! Assuming that the Jordan rumor is true, though, this seems like an excellent opportunity to explore some colorblind casting options.
And this seems like the exact right moment for a savvy action-franchise casting director to bet big on Nicole Beharie, the breakout star of Sleepy Hollow. On Fox’s hit supernatural drama, Beharie plays an ace straight-man, responding to the general insanity around her with a terse deadpan humor. That sounds just right for Sue, who provides a nice grown-up grounding for her big-personality teammates.
A total wild-card option, the team’s muscleman goes Full Rock-Person after the origin story, which means that whoever gets cast as Ben Grimm will either A) spend the movie covered in orange makeup, like Michael Chiklis, or more likely B) play Grimm via performance-capture. The twist is that The Thing is probably the most fun character to play: He’s simultaneously the hard-drinking badass and the tortured monster-man yearning to be human again. Although The Thing is physical, the real key to the character is his voice, which has to simultaneously convey that he’s a world-weary professional, a comic-relief man-ditz, and a troubled sad-sack.
So here’s a way-outside-the-box idea: Hire a voice actor. Like, put a UFC fighter like Brock Lesnar in a performance-capture suit on set, but then bring the character to life with the voice of John DiMaggio. The voice-acting pro has managed to bend his particular lovable-brutal rasp to fit into a wide assortment of characters – sociopath robot Bender on Futurama, mournful bicep mountain Marcus Fenix in Gears of War, mentor-sidekick-bestie Jake on Adventure Time – and DiMaggio would provide a handy counterweight to the reboot’s pretty young things. And if Fox is worried about not having enough pretty young things to put on magazine covers, they should just focus their attention on…
The Four’s top villain was classically a former schoolmate and friend/rival of Reed Richards. He was also vaguely foreign, the lord and master of a vaguely middle European nation. He was also a man – which, if you believe The Reporter, might be negotiable. The studio might be interested in swapping genders for the role.
Now, the idea of turning Doctor Doom into a woman probably sounds heretical to some people. But it’s also a potentially fun idea that could help to set the Fantastic Four film apart – from the wave of superhero films coming out the next couple of years, and from the lame mid-’00s Fantastic Four movies. The sad fact is that there hasn’t been a really good female supervillain since Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. Onscreen lady baddies tend to play henchmen: Think Rebecca Romijn’s Mystique or what’s-her-face from Man of Steel. Or think of January Jones in X-Men: First Class, if you can bear it. (I guess you could count Talia as the ultimate villain of The Dark Knight Rises, but a final-act reveal does not a supervillain make.)
And what a role for an actress! Doctor Doom is one of the all-time great comic book villains. A genius scientist who also deals in sorcery, a character born to gypsies before ascending to the throne, a proud egomaniac who will do anything for power but who also believes in the greater glory of Latveria. That’s a lot to play with – and the performer in question needs to pull it off while spending some/all of the movie behind a mask. So you need someone with eyes, with a voice, someone who can go over-the-top without going completely off the rails.
Throwing this out there: Eva Green has been lingering along the margins ever since her great Bond-girl turn in Casino Royale, but the French actress appears to be embracing her destiny as a femme fatale in the upcoming 300 and Sin City sequels. Plus, Green is one of those performers who appears capable of generating spicy chemistry with everyone – which would add some friskiness to the Reed-Doom rivalry.
Who would you cast in the Fantastic Four reboot, people? Is a female Doom totally crazy, or just crazy enough to work?