It's been obvious for some time that director Josh Trank wasn't looking to simply remake the Fantastic Four films with his upcoming reboot, but chart an entirely different course. With a younger cast comes a chance to tell a coming of age story unlike the previous adaptations, but apparently this younger cast will need some older guidance. It's been announced today that it will likely come in the form of Reg E. Cathey (The Wire, House of Cards), who has been cast as Franklin Storm, father of Sue (Kate Mara) and Johnny (Michael B. Jordan).
As reported by THR, Cathey joins the cast in the role of the brilliant scientist Dr. Franklin Storm. No further information on the role he'll be playing has been given, but the actor's credits - most notably on HBO's The Wire alongside his soon-to-be son Michael B. Jordan (but seen most recently as 'Freddy' on Netflix's House of Cards) - add to the already impressive cast being assembled. Not to mention hinting at how the reboot will continue to stray from the version of the Fantastic Four movie fans are most familiar with.
It's hard to tell if director Josh Trank is simply re-watching HBO's police drama and Kevin Spacey's political mastermind and simply jotting down names for his superhero origin story, but it's hard to argue with the results. Cathey, Jordan, Mara, Miles Teller and Jamie Bell may not be the most bankable names (yet), but each have a strong reputation for playing standout roles alongside star-studded casts. The plan, it would seem, is to combine their talents off screen as well as on.
The fact that Franklin Storm is mentioned as a "scientist," not a surgeon, also offers more evidence that Fox (like Marvel) is leaning more heavily towards the "Ultimate" version of the superteam. In that continuity, Dr. Franklin Storm was the reason for Sue's interest in cutting-edge science - and later, Reed Richards (Teller). It was that shared scientific curiosity that led to the group's superpowers, with son Johnny (Jordan) unwillingly pulled into the mix. In other words: fans need not worry about seeing the same origin story played out so soon.
In addition to the story implications, the casting of an African-American actor continues Trank's clear vision of a mixed-race family at the heart of his drama (and Fox's clear decision to appeal to multiple demographics). Jordan offered perhaps the best response possible to those who took issue with Trank's casting, but however the filmmakers chooses to contextualize Cathey, Mara and Jordan as a family, we tend to side with Captain America: The Winter Soldier's Anthony Mackie in saying: good actors make good movies, regardless of all else.
Since Cathey's most recent role had him play one of the only characters not intimidated by Kevin Spacey's 'Frank Underwood' - as the humble owner of a rib restaurant - then he may be just the actor that's needed to help guide his children through their new lifestyles. The film's script is said to have significant "heart" and "soul," so don't be surprised if Cathey is a major reason.
What are your thoughts on the casting? Are you happy to see that family will be playing a much larger role in this film than several other superhero films? Do you have your own theories on how Dr. Storm's own experiments will be worked into the team's origin? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below.
Fantastic Four opens in U.S. theaters on June 19th, 2015.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.