Actors We Want To See Play The Fantastic Four

In the early days of Marvel's "The Fantastic Four" — the comic book series that started in November of 1961 — the publishers had the temerity to announce the title as THE WORLD'S GREATEST COMIC MAGAZINE! While comic book historians could likely construct an evening at the Algonquin Round Table debating that point, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby certainly tried to make the promise feel true. the Fantastic Four possessed several key thematic elements that, when combined, had them standing as larger than life. After all, they were part ancient elemental myth — the team was made of rock and fire; one became somewhat amorphously liquid, another invisible like air. They were also boldly sci-fi, tapping into the largesse the genre possessed in 1961, regularly trekking into space and dealing with ineffably large cosmic entities like Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds. And, to ensure relatability, the Fantastic Four were also characters in a New York-based family sitcom. Mr. Fantastic and The Invisible Woman were a married couple, and The Human Torch was the Invisible Woman's impetuous brother who always argued with The Thing, who was once Mr. Fantastic's college roommate. 

In many ways, the world of modern comic book movies has handily outgrown the bold corniness of the Fantastic Four, leaving them uniquely old-fashioned. As THE WORLD'S GREATEST COMIC MAGAZINE!, the Fantastic Four are certainly allowed to remain theatrical and demonstrative, speaking dialogue in axiomatic, declarative statements. 

Thanks to a recent announcement at the 2022 San Diego Comic Con, it is now on record that a new "Fantastic Four" feature film is slated to be released in November of 2024. In the spirit of theatricality — and just for funsies — let us now construct the ideal (speculative) cast. 

Mr. Fantastic!

Mr. Fantastic, aka Reed Richards, already enjoyed a brief appearance in Sam Raimi's "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." In that movie, John Krasinski played the role, and he lived in a parallel universe, separate from the shenanigans of the "central" MCU. Additionally, the Scarlet Witch used her magic to rip his body into pasta and explode his head. So much for him. Krasinski had his moment. Also, in some corners of social media, actor Penn Badgley is preferred. He certainly looks the part, but that's hardly creative. Let us move on. 

Reed Richards should be a steadfastly heroic character, reminiscent of the thickheaded "geniuses" one might see in a 1950s sci-fi movie. There should be no shades of grey with a character who thought to call himself "Mr. Fantastic." A potential actor would need to have an old-world Hollywood charm, be capable of being a quiet nerd, but also a capable action hero. 

Since "RRR" is a hot action picture worldwide, and the film's star is possessed of traditional "heroic" good looks, why not have the devastatingly handsome Ram Charan play Mr. Fantastic? Only 37, and a veteran of Telugu cinema, Ram Charan — experienced in dance — would certainly have theatricality of the character in place. Plus, the man is just dazzling. He can be a sci-fi hero in a Hollywood blockbuster with ease. Indeed, "Fantastic Four" would need to be bigger than Hollywood currently offers, and — as those who have seen "RRR" can attest — Telugu cinema blows Hollywood out of the water. 

The Invisible Woman!

To balance Mr. Fantastic's uncool nerdiness, his superhero partner and eventual wife would have to be ultra-cool, brazen, and loud. The Invisible Woman, while typically being depicted as calm and mature, should be granted a larger voice this time around. Consider: She's sister to the Human Torch, a character often depicted as a hot-dogging extrovert. A pair of playful sibling extroverts constantly vying for attention is a more interesting dynamic than letting him take up all the air in the room. The group already has a quiet, brainy type. The Invisible Woman, in an ironic twist on her name, should be a mouthy rockstar.  

While she already played the Marvel character of Domino in "Deadpool 2," there's no reason Zazie Beetz couldn't also play the Invisible Woman. Heck, if Chris Evans can play both the Human Torch and Captain America (and if Patrick Stewart can be both Captain Picard and Professor X and if Ian McKellan can be both Gandalf and Magneto), then Beetz can definitely be Domino in 2018 and The Invisible Woman in 2024. Her flip, confrontational humor might even startle the all-business, so-handsome-as-to-be-untouchable Ram Charan, making for an interesting marital relationship. 

The Human Torch!

Johnny Storm was previously played by Chris Evans, the actor who played Captain America in over eight dozen movies (we may have miscounted). As mentioned previously, Johnny Storm is the "jock" of the group, there to ply his flash and his emotions over his intellect. He's also an attention-seeker who spent a lot of his life trying to outshine his sister. One would need an actor who can stand up to Zazie Beetz as the Invisible Woman. 

The appropriate choice for this one would be the funny and confident Elliot Page. In a just world, of course, Page should be more appropriately cast as Wolverine — he's small, ripped, and Canadian, plus he's played an X-Men character before — but the Human Torch would be just as amazing. Page is pliable and could easily stand up to the outsize charism of Beetz and the brainy toughness of Ram Charan. Page's knack for flip, jokey dialogue would fit in perfectly not just with Johnny Storm, but with the MCU in general. Given that Charan is not a "jokey" actor, he wouldn't be the winking Iron Man-like leader. Beetz, meanwhile, is more of a deliverer of zingers happy to take people down, but not necessarily the one to take charge of publicity. 

Page, as Johnny Storm, could easily carry the public face of the Fantastic Four. One can certainly see the guy at a podium, smirking and delivering the FF's scripted ad copy for waiting reporters. 

The Thing!

There's no doubt that the machinery of the MCU would realize The Thing — a giant dude made out of rocks — as a CGI character, created using motion capture. While this author appreciated the make-up job on Michael Chiklis in the Tim Story "Fantastic Four" movies, it seems that putting an actor in make-up is a moribund notion for films of this size. And if they go the digital route, a large, muscular actor would not be required. Heck, Mark Ruffalo, who plays the Hulk, is hardly a muscular bruiser. And the Thing's personality is more important than casting a buff actor: Shy, temperamental, easily annoyed by Johnny, a little embarrassed by his strength. Maybe a little weird, and someone who would be the right age to have roomed with Ram Charan. 

Consider please: Daniel Radcliffe. Radcliffe is increasingly proving to be one of the more interesting actors of his generation, often selecting oddball projects and acting challenges that prove his willingness to stretch. While Radcliffe may be acting in motion capture, he could certainly carry the presence of a large rock monster. Radcliffe can also handle wild, physical roles as presented in films like "Guns Akimbo" and "Swiss Army Man." A Radcliffe version of The Thing certainly has precedent in Korg, the rock monster from "Thor: Love and Thunder." Perhaps the two of them could hold hands in a volcano and make rock babies of their own. 

With this cast, the 2015 "Fantastic Four" movie would be effectively erased from our collective memory. And isn't that really the most important thing?