11.29.2018

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

4 comments: