Ok so I had to redo this intro because as I was writing this MTV Splash Page happened to post (a day earlier than usual) their weekly fantasy casting column about…the Fantastic Four. My goal was to get this up today and scoop the usual Friday, blogosphere speculation fest… but C’est la vie.
Thankfully for me, Splash Page cast their Fantastic Four flick using a mostly older set of actors; I myself have been envisioning a more youthful (not too young, though) version of Fantastic Four. Check out what my vision for this upcoming reboot is, and who I picked to take on the roles of Marvel’s favorite superhero family.
Ok, so before we start I thought I’d talk a little bit about the Fantastic Four, as I have come to understand the characters over the years. The thing that has always stuck with me about the FF is the way that – beyond all the superpowered adventures and exploration that made for pretty thrilling sci-fi – the characters and their powers worked on a whole other level as a clever metaphor for the family dynamic and some all-too familiar roles within that dynamic.
Think about it: Reed Richards’ “rubber man” power is also a great metaphor for his brilliant mind, which is limitless in its creative possibilities (just like his body), but limited by its tendency to forget the basic shape of everyday life (such as family and friends); Sue Richards often feels like an invisible woman to the one person she should matter most to (Reed); Johnny Storm thinks he’s hot you-know-what; and Ben Grimm is that hard-ass “uncle” who has a big heart he hides behind a rocky shell.
What I believe the last two Fantastic Four films failed to nail down was that underlying (and very relatable) family drama – lost somewhere in all the flashy f/x, bad dialogue and gratuitous exploits such as having Jessica Alba run around without clothes for no reason (which they SOMEHOW turned into a bad thing). This reboot cannot make that same mistake: family must come first if you want the story of the Fantastic Four to resonate beyond the halls of geekdom. The dynamic between the actors selected to play these roles is going to be CRUCIAL; they need to spark such good chemistry that they can improv their dialogue and still have it sound as real and natural as the arguments around YOUR family’s Sunday dinner table – while still managing to save the world.
That said, I’m making my choices based not only on the usual “he/she looks like a good fit” criteria, but also based on proven history of good chemistry with their fellow actors. I’ve also shied away from any really A-list stars – because let’s face it, with an ensemble of leading roles like this, no egos (or massive paychecks) can be allowed to rock the boat. Also, as I stated, I’ve gone with a more youthful incarnation of the Four: I would prefer to see a newly married Reed and Sue Richards, trying to figure out what shape the next phase of their adult lives should take, while having to deal with the baggage of in-laws (Johnny Storm) and close friends (Ben Grimm).
Without further ado, here is my new Fantastic Four:
REED AND SUE RICHARDS
In what is sure to be the surprise move of the century (I’m going to take A LOT of crap for this, I’m already aware), I’m going to cast Matthew Morrison and Jessalyn Gilsig, who currently play a quirky married couple on Fox’s hit new show, Glee. Both Morrison and Gilsig have had consistent careers on the small screen, with Gilsig in particular having had roles on everything from Boston Public, NYPD Blue, Prison Break, Nip/Tuck and even some superpowered work playing Claire Bennet’s pyrokinetic mother for stint on Heroes.
Morrison’s TV work has mostly involved guest spots on a number of shows, with the notable exception of a multi-episode arc on As The Wolrd Turns back in 2006. However, after just three episodes of Glee, I know Morrison is a perfect Reed Richards: He’s demonstrated on that show that he has all the foundation needed to make Reed actually interesting for once: A man stradling fanciful dreams and adult responsibilities, deep and sensitive when he needs to be, something of a big geek – yet posessing a charming boyish innocence in those eyes that could make you believe a hottie like Sue Richards would put up with his obliviousness and neglect.
Gilsig has similarly proven that she can go from doe-eyed mother figure to tough-girl in a snap – plus, she’s easy on the eyes in just the right way you’d imagine Sue Richards would be (read: MILF pretty). Jessica Alba, while scorching hot, fit NOBODY’s mental image of Sue Richards, and is still one of the worst miscastings in all comic book movie history, IMO.
Tie this left-field casting nom off with the fact that Gilsig and Morrison have had ample practice nailing down their marital chemistry (it’s more comedic on Glee, but the dysfunctional-yet-genuine love is certainly there), not to mention they’re both currently under contract with Fox, so the studio could easily work in the F4 shoot around their schedules (and sign them for relatively cheap). For two mid-list TV actors, this would be the break of a lifetime, so you know they would put forth the effort to get it right.
Talent, chemistry, motivation to perform well, the look(s)… Need I go on?
JOHNNY STORM AND BEN GRIMM
Hats off to Josh Wigler over at Splash Page for mock casting True Blood stars Ryan Kwanten (Jason Stackhouse) and Chris Bauer (Officer Andy Bellefleur) as The Human Torch and The Thing. I’ve been WRACKING my brain all afternoon trying to come up with two better picks, but man is it hard…
Kwanten’s True Blood role has demonstrated that he can play the “I’m the man” alpha-male who still has huge pressure points of insecurity, foolishness and vulnerability (plus the ladies thinks he’s hot – get it?); and anyone who saw Bauer on season 2 of The Wire knows that the longtime character actor can hands-down play the tough-guy-with-the-heart-of-gold role that reminds you of a no-nonsense, lecture-spouting uncle you have. Add the fact that Bauer and Kwanten demonstrated some real ball-busting chemistry together onscreen during the final part of True Blood‘s second season (see above), and you’ve already got your legendary Johnny/Ben rivalry.
Added bonus: just on sight alone I can buy Kwanten and Gilsig as brother and sister, and if you’ve seen Morrison deal with his stocky gym coach buddy on Glee, or Bauer lecturing pretty much everybody on True Blood in his gruff baratone voice, it’s fairly easy to buy Morrison and Bauer as old friends Reed and Ben as well.
However, so as not to live TOTALLY in Splash Page‘s shadow, I’ll toss out Domenick Lombardozzi (The Wire) to play Ben Grimm (authentic NYC accent and attitude, plus he definitely has the look ) and Johnny K. Lewis (Sons of Anarchy) to play Johnny Storm – if he hits the weight room, that is. IMO, Lewis has the right kind of hothead smarm to play The Torch.
As for the villains? Well… We’ll save that for another post. Splash Page nominated Stellan Skarsgård to play Dr. Doom (again, great choice) but for my purposes, I need somebody younger.
How do you think our picks for the Fantastic Four reboot stack up against MTV Splash Page’s? Let us know in the comments.