Casting the Fantastic Four (Part 2)

Sue and Reed Richards, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm make up the core team of the Fantastic Four. However, they don’t exist alone. They have friends, lovers, employees, and associates that fill their universe. Victor Von Doom is their archnemesis, the antagonist they battle most often. Yet he isn’t the only villain to spar with the Fantastic Four. If Marvel’s first Fantastic Four movie is a success, there is a wealth of supporting characters and bad guys who will populate their storylines. I have some ideas of who could fill these roles. I’d also accept a paycheck from Disney if they choose to adopt any of my suggestions.

image courtesy Marvel Comics

Alicia Masters is a blind artist and Thing’s love interest. Hollywood has a long history of using able bodied people to fill roles of disabled characters. With the visually impaired, sometimes it works (Charlie Cox’ Daredevil) and sometimes it doesn’t (Ben Affleck’s Daredevil). However, blind characters would be far more genuine if portrayed by legally blind actors. Give this role to Lachi. She’s made a career as a singer/songwriter who has worked with artists like Styles P and Snoop Dogg. And she’s legally blind. Her only acting credits are a pair of music videos, so this could be her big break.

Johnny’s best friend, Wyatt Wingfoot doesn’t have any superpowers, yet he’s frequently saved the team from dire circumstances. He’s athletic, skilled in marksmanship and physical combat. Wyatt is also Native American, and America’s indigenous population don’t often see their people positively portrayed in popular culture. Marvel has an opportunity to create a hero for native people and they could use someone who is young, hungry, and talented – someone like Forrest Goodluck. He was brilliant in his film debut as Hawk in The Revenant and he could turn this minor character into a fan favorite.

Franklin Storm is Sue and Johnny’s dad, a former surgeon, widower, and alcoholic who struggles with feelings of guilt. Bruce Willis plays the same variation of the same character over and over, from Die Hard to Unbreakable to Death Wish; the elder Storm is another variant of that grizzled old man. It also gives him the opportunity to return to the tough and sympathetic fatherly role like he had in Armageddon.

Sue and Reed Richards are married with children. The older offspring, Franklin Richards, possesses psionic powers and the ability manipulate and rearrange the molecular structure of matter. The younger, Valeria Richards, can create forcefields like her mom and is super smart like her dad. And she is a time traveler. Finn Wolfhard of It and Stranger Things would add some youthful mischief as Franklin while demonstrating what it’s like to be the kid of famous heroes. Cailey Fleming, who recently joined the cast of The Walking Dead, could be a great addition as the youngest member of the Richards family. She also has a preexisting relationship with Disney, having appeared as the young version of Rey in The Force Awakens.

Inside the Baxter Building, the Fantastic Four have a receptionist named Roberta. However, they didn’t hire this employee from a temp agency or dig though dozens of resumes to find the perfect candidate. Instead, they built one. Roberta is a robot connected to the building’s network with artificial intelligence able to access all security systems. From the waist up, she looks completely human, but she has no legs and is confined to the reception desk. Due to her robotic construction, her humanoid half is incredibly strong. I’d cast another Revenant alum: Grace Dove. She can provide the polite sweetness of a receptionist while demonstrating the super human strength of a robot.

There is another robot in the Baxter Building – Humanoid Experimental Robot, B-type, Integrated Electronics, also known as H.E.R.B.I.E. Herbie was built by Mr. Fantastic to help locate Galactus and is most often around as a comedic sidekick or a companion for Valeria and Franklin. Since an actor wouldn’t appear on screen, you need someone with a funny voice who is used to working in a sound booth. Enter Lucky Yates, who is mostly known as the voice of Dr. Krieger in Archer. He’s hilarious and is a regular in the Atlanta comedy scene.

Speaking of Galactus, the cosmic entity and eater of planets is one of the greatest enemies to battle the Fantastic Four. Not only does Galactus prove to be a formidable foe for the Four, he’s also one of the greatest threats in Marvel Comics. Bringing him into the MCU would be a force uniting the Fantastic Four with other heroes. Galactus would be the most difficult character to translate to the big screen as he’s the living embodiment of the cosmos, a being of immense size with an appearance that is perceived differently based on a person’s race and religion. Galactus harnesses the Power Cosmic which grants him godlike abilities: telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation, and transmutation. He can project energy, alter his size, create forcefields and portals, manipulate memories and emotions, and give a fraction of his powers to lesser beings who serve as his herald. He survives by feeding off the energy of planets, often draining life on extraterrestrial worlds to extinction. If anyone in the Marvel universe can cause mass-scale destruction, it’s Galactus. An epic character deserves an epic voice, one like Patrick Warburton. His amazing vocals have been found in a multitude of shows and movies like The Tick, Open Season, Family Guy, The Venture Bros, and The Emperor’s New Groove.

The current herald of Galactus is Silver Surfer. Originally named Norrin Radd, he was an astronomer on an alien planet. When Galactus came to devour his world, Radd made a deal to protect his home, his family, and his lover. Radd bargained for their protection in exchange for his service. Galacus transformed Radd into the Surfer and spared his planet. Radd originally intended to lead Galactus to uninhabited planets but Galactus manipulated him into searching for life, eventually leading them to Earth. With the help of the Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer rediscovered his compassion and humanity. For the betrayal, Galactus confined the Surfer to Earth in exile. For this role, you need someone able to portray deep emotional strain, doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, someone like Rami Malek. Malek portrayed this moral ambiguity with skill in Mr Robot and would bring the same intensity into Silver Surfer. He recently filled some big shoes as Freddie Mercury with precision in Bohemian Rhapsody. The MCU needs Malek.

The Kree/Skrull war is a major event in Marvel comics and set to be central to the plot of the upcoming Captain Marvel. The Fantastic Four also found themselves in conflict with the shapeshifting alien Skrulls, especially a spy named Lyja. The Kree/Skrull war would be a great way to introduce the Fantstic Four with Lyja impersonating Alicia Masters to infiltrate the Baxter Building. While she has been an enemy of the Four, she’s also been an ally - developing romantic feelings for Johnny Storm, and helping to defeat Doctor Doom. To play the part of the warrior alien spy, I’d select Constance Wu who is most well known for her role in Fresh of the Boat. She’s tough, witty, and probably smarter than you. (She’s definitely smarter than me.) She’d be great in a morally conflicted role who is sometimes villainous and sometimes heroic.

Between this group of supporting friends and foes, along with my picks for the main cast, I think we’d have – for the first time ever – a great Fantastic Four movie.

image courtesy Marvel Comics


Casting the Fantastic Four (Part 1)

With the deal between Fox and Disney complete, all Marvel properties once belonging to 21st Century Fox are now eligible to appear in the MCU. Possibilities seem endless. With this merger, we could possibly see the wedding of Storm and Black Panther or crossover events like House of M and Secret Wars on the big screen. Who knows, maybe we could get a Marvel Zombies movie.

Casting for Fox’s comic book characters have been inconsistent. Some were perfect like Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Others were not as great like Kelsey Grammer as Beast. The X-Men movies have ranged from abysmal to amazing while the Deadpool movies are comedy gold. However, there is one group of heroes they never got right: each new Fantastic Four movie Fox released was somehow worse than the previous iteration. With the Fox/Disney merger, perhaps Marvel’s first family will finally receive cinematic justice.

image courtsy of Marvel Comics

While fans speculate about how the next Avengers movie will unfold, I hope Kevin Feige and the folks at Marvel Studios are contemplating how to incorporate the Four into the existing universe. John Krasinski recently expressed interest in the role of Reed Richards, AKA Mr. Fantastic, the super-genius scientist with elastic limbs. Screen Rant published some fan art of how Krasinski could appear in costume and it looks like the ideal casting choice. After seeing his stellar performance in A Quiet Place earlier this year, I’m a fan. I wouldn’t object if Disney handed him the director’s job either.

image courtesy of Screen Rant

Before Disney announces official plans to integrate the Fantastic Four and X-Men into the MCU, there are a few stars I’d like to see appear in a Marvel movie. If I was a casting Director at Marvel Studios, here is who I would select to join Krasinski in the MCU’s Fantastic Four.

Sue Storm is the emotional center of the team and the wife of Reed Richards. She uses the name Invisible Woman because her ability to manipulate light waves allows her to render herself invisible. The balance between tenderness and strength to keep the team functioning can be found in Reese Witherspoon. From Legally Blonde to Wild, Witherspoon has proven the ability to be funny and tough while maintaining Sue Storm’s nurturing side.

Johnny Storm is the arrogant, attention seeking, and temper prone hero known as Human Torch. Justin Timberlake fits the egocentric and impetuous character. Timberlake and Johnny Storm share another quality, both are (or were) heartthrobs for teen girls. Johnny is Sue Storm’s younger brother; Timberlake and Witherspoon look like they could be related, so we have a perfect match for the on-screen siblings.

Reed’s best friend, Ben Grimm had the worst luck when the Fantastic Four was exposed to the cosmic radiation that gave them powers. While the other three still looked normal, Grimm was bestowed a monstrous appearance and a body made of rock. Known as Thing, he has super-strength but is self-conscious about his image. He’s got a heart of gold, optimistic, and frequently jokes around. He also enjoys a fight. Throw 50 Cent into a motion capture suit and he’ll embody the tough guy with a sensitive side.

Doctor Doom is the Fantastic Four’s main nemesis. Reed Richards’ rival is a technopathic scientist who dabbles in magic and wears strength augmenting armor. Zachary Quinto could portray the Latverian ruler with a delicate balance between charm and menace. Quinto’s best performances were as villains in TV shows like Heroes and American Horror Story. As we’ve learned through Spider-Man: Homecoming and Black Panther, the best villains are the ones who make us understand and relate to their motives, even if misguided. Quinto has the depth to give the Fantastic Four a bad guy audiences love and hate all at the same time.

When Marvel introduces the Fantastic Four into the MCU, they need to be added as characters preexisting inside the universe. The Richards family could purchase Avengers Tower and convert it into the Baxter Building. Stories could be set in the past to explain what they were doing during previous events like the Battle of New York or Thanos’ snap. Whatever happens, we’ve had enough origin stories, we don’t need another.


The names that almost were

This is Jemma. She's the newest resident at Heartsong Meadow. And she is one of the reasons I've been a bit busy this past month. That's because she is my horse.

She's an older quarter horse, mellow, just my speed. However, horse ownership includes some extra responsibilities beyond the typical feeding and grooming. I have to spend time working her and bonding with her. As of this last weekend, I also started riding lessons; if we're honest, she's better trained than I am.

When we brought her home, she needed a new name. Blinded by Rainbow just wasn't gonna work around here. Her name needed to be strong and (because it's me) completely geeky. In one of my private groups, several guys suggested the name Epona for reasons.

There are four other names we almost gave her. Nebula - an interstellar dust cloud and the adopted sister of Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy. Gallifrey - The Doctor's home planet in Doctor Who. Valkyrie - the keepers of life and death in battle from Norse mythology and one of the female warriors in Marvel's Thor comics. Aurora - the technical name for the northern lights and a member of Alpha Flight in Marvel comics. None of these names felt right though.

We eventually decided on Jemma, named after Dr Jemma Simmons from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - the genius biochemist and a researcher for S.H.I.E.L.D.'s science division. Jemma is one of the smartest characters in the TV show and now Jemma is one of the smartest animals on our farm. Which is good, because I need a brilliant horse. According to our trainer, I ride like a sack of potatoes.


Wait, what? (a Thanksgiving post)

As I sat down today, the eve of Thanksgiving, I realized something. I haven't posted anything since the end of October. Wait, what? This month has flown by and we've been a little busy. Pictured below is a clear example of me not being busy.

All joking aside, the last few weeks have been an onslaught of activity. Changes at my day job have ensured I never lack a task in need of doing. New animals on the farm equal extra work at home. And we're doing a remodel project. Wait, what? This geek has been learning construction methods as we add two bedrooms so the kids can all have their own space.

What does that mean for The Faithful Geek? Well, not much other than the crickets chirping in cyberspace. It means I've been hustling from the moment my morning alarm blares until I crawl back into bed. It means I haven't had as much time for reading or writing - and what I have written hasn't been published. It's coming though. My hiatus isn't permanent and I have something fun planned, a return to my nerdy calling. Until then, enjoy your Turkey Day.

Wait, what? Don't worry, that's Uno and she is not Thanksgiving dinner. She's still running around Heartsong Meadow like she owns the place. Besides, I prefer eating ham.