They may just be trying to prevent the rights from reverting to Marvel – and by extension Disney – but let’s give Fox credit when due. From the few details that are emerging regarding their forthcoming Fantastic Four reboot, it looks like they just might be trying something interesting. As we reported last week, writer Simon Kinberg has come on to overhaul the script, but more telling are the names that are being floated for the key roles. According to Variety, several actors have been called in to screen test for the picture.
Starting at the top of the roster, Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones), Jack O’Connell (Eden Lake), and Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now) are all in the running to play Reed Richards, otherwise known as Mr. Fantastic. For Sue Storm, a role occupied by Jessica Alba in the earlier films, Saoirse Ronan (who seems to be up for every role which calls for an athletic woman in her early 20s) and Kate Mara (House of Cards) appear to be the top choices. Michael B. Jordan (co-star of Chronicle, which new Fantastic Four director Josh Trank also helmed) is the only actor currently being tested for Johnny Storm/The Human Torch, although that does not mean the role is his yet, and we’ve yet to hear of any names on the short list for The Thing.
The major takeaway from all this is the youth movement. The actors being considered for Mr. Fantastic, historically one of the older an more cerebral Marvel heroes, average only 25 years old. At 32 when Fantastic Four released, Ioan Gruffudd was hardly an elder statesman when he took on the role, but he certainly had the capacity to play up in age; Teller, meanwhile, most recently appeared as a high school student. The other actors above, with the minor exception of Mara (although she’s only 30) mirror this trend, which suggests Fox is really going after the youth movement, perhaps encouraged by a similar change in X-Men: First Class which proved quite successful.
It also points to the likelihood of a Fantastic Four heavily influenced by the version found in Marvel’s Ultimate universe, an alternate continuity which features slightly different, and in most cases updated, takes on Marvel’s classic heroes. In the Ultimate Fantastic Four, Sue Storm Takes over the leadership role from the younger, typically early 20s Reed Richards (which could account for the Mara consideration), and the team gains their powers from a malfunctioning teleporter rather than a space mission gone awry. This would not only allow Fox an easy path to explaining the youth of the team, but would create a central leadership role for a female character in a male-dominated landscape.
In any event, it seems Fantastic Four is racing to join an increasingly crowded field of big-screen superhero teams. With a March 2015 release currently planned, it should just beat both Avengers: Age of Ultron and Batman vs. Superman to theaters.