ALL FOR FOUR1 of 12
Just after the stroke of midnight on March 20, the film rights to the Fantastic Four will return home to Marvel. (Oh yeah, some other stuff is coming too... but bear with us).
With that in mind, we couldn't help but begin fan-casting the Fantastic Four - and we've got a specific direction in mind for the First Family.
Our FF are the adults of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with a Reed and Sue who would be contemporaries of RDJ's Tony Stark and who are capable of sliding into the role of top heroes in the presumed absence of the original Avengers. And we're not weighing in with choices for Franklin and Valeria - yet. We're assuming it will be a matter of years before the FF makes it to the big screen, so kid actors now may age out of the roles in a realistic timeframe.
Love our picks? Hate 'em? Weigh in with your fan casting choices on Facebook and Twitter.
JESSICA LANGE as AGATHA HARKNESS2 of 12
Agatha Harkness may not be the first Fantastic Four supporting cast member that comes to mind when you think of the team, but in our minds, she's a bridge to the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe.
With connections to Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch, and more, Harkness is an FF confidante that widens Marvel's world of magic and the FF's sphere at the same time. And to play her, we've gotta suggest Jessica Lange.
Lange's made a genre rep in recent years as part of the American Horror Story ensemble cast, and we certainly envision her drawing on her role as Coven's "Supreme" witch to play Harkness.
But even more than that, Lange possesses a timeless quality that makes her seem perfectly suited to any place or time - an ideal trait for a magical being. Lange's charm, wit, and alternating iciness and warmth (not to mention name recognition) make her the perfect choice to take on a prestige role that could bridge multiple films and franchises.
RUTH WILSON as ALICIA MASTERS3 of 12
Ruth Wilson's turn as the star-crossed Alison Bailey on Showtime's The Affair - including her much-lauded death episode - more than prepared her to portray Ben Grimm's long-time girlfriend-turned-wife.
In particular, during The Affair's first season, Wilson and co-star Dominic West played the same scenes twice in each episode with two subtle but different takes - from her own POV (West was more aggressive) and from West's POV (she was).
While Alicia has never been a tragic figure per se, she did lose her sight to the machinations of her super villain step-father the Puppet Master. That hint of duality - the melancholy underneath her positive demeanor - is right in Wilson's wheelhouse.
JAVIER BARDEM as DOCTOR DOOM4 of 12
The role of Victor Von Doom requires someone with terrifying gravitas and the acting ability to make the FF’s eternal foe more tragic than cartoony. Enter Javier Bardem, as imposing and chilling a villain actor as you can cast these days.
Sure, he’d have to chew a little more scenery than he did as Anton Chigurre in No Country For Old Men, but that level of intensity is exactly what the role of Marvel’s most conflicted and arrogant villain calls for.
More than anything, what we’re looking for is a Doom that can hold his own against not just the FF, but the entire Marvel Universe. Bardem has the presence and talent to make him a universe-level threat, and the serious demeanor that would help avoid the pitfalls of previous big screen versions of Doom.
Javier Bardem also played the villain in Disney’s latest installment of Pirates of the Carribean, so he’s already part of the studio’s wider network.
OSCAR ISAAC as NAMOR5 of 12
Unlike DC’s big screen Aquaman, Marvel’s Namor isn’t a bombastic hero type. No, he’s more of a brooding monarch who has occasionally deigned to aide the surface world. More often, he’s been a kind of environmental anti-hero, raising hell against the folks who pollute his home in the ocean.
He’s also a well-known comic book hunk (we’re talking Winter Soldier level) – and that’s the pearl in the oyster when it comes to the darkly handsome Oscar Isaac, an actor uniquely suited to portray both Namor’s brash anger and coy regality in equal measure.
Whoever winds up playing Namor will have to credibly cause Sue Storm’s eye to wander away from Reed Richards – and Oscar Isaac has the charisma and pure animal magnetism to play the savage king of the sea. And of course, as part of the Star Wars franchise, he’s already in the Disney family.
DEV PATEL as SILVER SURFER6 of 12
At age 28, Dev Patel would be a perfect contemporary to our pick for Johnny Storm (more on that later) – and he’d be the right choice to bring a bit of wide-eyed wonder to the usually solemn Silver Surfer/Norrin Radd.
Now, we don’t mean we’d want to turn him into a happy-go-lucky type. Rather, Patel has what it takes to play the ultimate alien explorer and bring something to the role that could easily be lost under the layers of chrome CGI – Silver Surfer’s humanity.
Patel could portray the weight of the Surfer’s tragic backstory without losing the spark of imagination that comes with the Power Cosmic. We don't know where anyone ever got the idea the Surfer was like Gort from The Day The Earth Stood Still under the silver. There’s a highly contemplative, incredibly sensitive person in there.
RUSSEL CROWE as GALACTUS7 of 12
OK, we're admittedly thinking of Galactus as a primarily CGI presence (not that we aren't demanding a comic book accurate representation - purple skirt and all), which informs our opinion on how the immense, cosmically hungry force of natures should be portrayed.
For this, we're looking to Russel Crowe - perhaps a slightly left-field choice, but that's what we like about it. Crowe's got the requisite bass in his voice to pull off playing Galactus, and he's self-aware enough to not go too far into the realm of po-faced stiffness in the face of a somewhat absurd role.
GLEN POWELL as JOHNNY STORM8 of 12
We almost went with 26-year-old Blake Jenner as Johnny Storm but instead we couldn’t stop landing on his 30-year old Everybody Wants Some co-star Glen Powell.
(We think) a star-in-the-making, Powell is still more than a decade younger than our picks for his teammates/co-stars, highlighting Johnny’s requisite youthful (if not teenage) dynamic in the group.
Powell has a kinetic, highly-verbal, life-of-the-party energy that suits Johnny well, as the member of the team that most embraces his abilities and role as a public hero.
Plus he’s pretty enough to credibly pass as younger brother of our choice for Sue, which is no easy ask.
But more on that in a moment.
RON PERLMAN as BEN GRIMM9 of 12
This might be the biggest no-brainer of all. Who better to play the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing than the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Ron Perlman?
Perlman’s got the exact kind of range that befits Ben Grimm – a wry, sarcastic wit wrapped in the pathos of his tragically inhuman form, and topped off with a heart of pure, solid gold.
Perlman’s gravelly voice (pun 100% intended) and experience playing all-too-human characters hidden under layers of make-up from the tragically romantic Beast to the iconically devilish Hellboy aren’t the only things Perlman’s got going for him. Like Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew, Perlman’s a New York native of Jewish heritage – meaning he’s got firsthand experience with Ben’s POV.
ADRIEN BRODY as REED RICHARDS10 of 12
45-year-old Adrien Brody probably isn’t on anyone’s A-list at the moment, but we couldn’t stop going back to him despite considering higher-profile actors like Michael Fassbender for the part of the FF patriarch.
In our heads, Reed requires an actor that can portray brooding, intelligent, intense and even anti-social, and the Oscar-winning Brody can pull that off in his sleep. Our vision of Reed also isn’t a traditional Hollywood leading man-type, and Brody’s unique, angular face and long neck lends itself to Reed’s unique powers and the necessary intelligence behind his eyes.
But it’s not like Brody would have to play it all brains. He credibly pulled of a man-of-action turn in Peter Jackson’s King Kong a few years back.
CHARLIZE THERON as SUE RICHARDS11 of 12
Charlize Theron as Sue Richards/Invisible Woman was the first choice we made for our fan-cast. Not only is Theron the spitting image of Sue on the page, she’s got the gravitas and screen presence to give Reed a run for his money as the FF’s heart and soul.
While 20-something A-listers like Jennifer Lawrence, Margot Robbie, and Emma Stone made the short-list, we again view the FF as the “adults” of the Marvel Universe, seasoned science explorers led by Reed and Sue who are old enough to have kids and to be contemporaries of Iron Man and Doctor Strange.
And to that end, there’s no other choice but Charlize Theron, who could play a Sue more Reed’s equal, his window to the world who holds the FF together through sheer determination.
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