The less famous superhero team the Fantastic Four is getting the Spider-Man treatment, with a reboot already in the works for a franchise that ended in 2007. Now that the script is finished, according to Variety, Fox is ready to start testing actors for the Fantastic Four roles of Sue Storm and Reed Richards, and from the few actors revealed to be in the running for the movie, we can already tell it's going to be different from its predecessor.
Right now actors are only being tested for half of the Four because there is already one member who's role has been filled. Fruitvale Station star Michael B. Jordan is said to be attached to play Johnny Storm, which if confirmed would make this the first racially blind casting for a superhero. In the 2005 and 2007 Fantastic Four films, Johnny Storm was played by Chris Evans, who has since gone on to play Captain America. But Jordan's casting wouldn't be the only thing that separates this film from the last.
In talks to play Richards, or Mr. Fantastic, are Jordan's That Awkward Moment costar Miles Teller and Game of Thrones' Kit Harington and Richard Madden. Ioan Gruffud portrayed him in the previous films, and all three would make for a younger Richards, and have more notable past roles than Gruffud did before being cast.
Testing for Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman, are House of Cards' Kate Mara and Saoirse Ronan of The Host, The Lovely Bones and Atonement. Previously Sue Storm was played by Jessica Alba, who was more widely known when cast in Fantastic Four than either Mara or Ronan. Age-wise this brings another departure from the last film, as Alba was 24 in the film, while Ronan is only 19 and Mara is 30.
If Jordan is officially cast as Johnny Storm, however, these actresses raise a possible issue. Johnny and Sue Storm are supposed to be brother and sister, so why aren't any black actresses being considered? If Fox is really okay with racially-blind casting, they should consider it for Sue as well, unless they're planning on adding an adoption backstory of some kind.
This assortment of names also makes it seem like Fox isn't quite sure what it wants for the reboot besides Jordan, who previously worked with director Josh Trank on Chronicle. This is only Trank's second film, while screenwriter Simon Kinberg has plenty of superhero experience, having previously worked on the scripts for X-Men: The Last Stand and the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past.
But with the reboot coming just seven years after the last Fantastic Four film, it's easy to understand why Fox would want to change things up. There are already an abundance of superhero movies, with Marvel constantly adding to its cinematic universe, consistently released X-Men films, a new Superman potentially leading to a Justice League film and Andrew Garfield's too-soon Spider-Man reboot. That's a lot of superheroes, so Fantastic Four needs to stand out somehow. Racially-blind casting and a lack of similarities to its previous films should definitely help with that.
There is, however, just one surprise and possible mistake with all of these considered actors. No one is that famous. Sure, Alba was the biggest name for that Fantastic Four and Chris Hemsworth was no one before Thor, but that was before superhero movies became as insanely popular as they are at the post-Avengers box office. Now, barely known heroes are being played by huge stars. You've probably never heard of Ant-Man, but you know who Paul Rudd is, right?
Jordan seems like he'll be Hollywood's next big star, but what if he isn't? Or what if he doesn't quite blow up before this movie is released? Fox will have a high-budget superhero film with no major names to promote it. Warner Brothers took a chance by casting Henry Cavill as Superman in Man of Steel, but they surrounded him with celebrities like Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane and Kevin Costner, and in his next film he'll be joined by Ben Affleck as the latest Batman.
If Fox wants to ensure they don't end up with the next big superhero flop, they might want to surround the core Four with some bigger names. It shouldn't be too hard to get someone on board, now that everyone wants to be a hero.
Image: 20th C. Fox