Alex Yarde thinks nerdrage surrounding Fantastic Four Casting & Reboot is more about race and less about cannon.
Admittedly, when I first saw the news about director, Josh Trank’s reboot of the Fantastic Four Franchise, my nerd rage exploded in a few cheap shots on twitter. I guess I am still reeling from the gang-banging, tattooed, menchy Lex Luthor and the infamous Batfleck. You know: once bitten twice shy. As I looked at the available facts however, I see the disparate pieces coming together before me like Chaz Palminteri piecing together the truth that surrounded him in the fiction spun by Kevin Spacey with bits and pieces in his office in the crime drama The Usual Suspects.
Other than the director (Trank) and screenwriter Simon Kinberg (Heroes), who is also currently involved in the X-Men franchise at Fox as well as the Star Wars live-action films and animated series at Disney/Lucasfilm, the film’s casting is critical to its success. It’s what an audience experiences most directly in film. I think these actors, if they are indeed hired, will do a great job. Miles Tellar as Reed Richards aka. “Mister Fantastic” has proven he has range (The Spectacular Now). Kate Mara as Sue Storm “The Invisible Woman” is always a good choice, as seen in her solid work in Netfilx’s House Of Cards. Michael B. Jordan (Fruitville Station) is a terrific actor and great for the role of Johnny Storm, as long as they keep the cocky, volatile essence of the Human Torch and Kudos for 20th century fox and Trask for going against the grain in this regard. The different races of the Storm Siblings within the confines of the story (and reality) is a non-issue in this day and age of different family makeups that can be explained in one line. As a matter of fact, If both Storm siblings were black, (which I wouldn’t mind at all) Reed & Sue’s interracial relationship would have also been a bridge too far for naysayers. I like the idea of Jamie Bell (yep, Billy Elliot) as Ben Grimm aka “The Thing”. Is he a Yance Boy from Hell’s Kitchen? Maybe not but so what? It’s obviously the Ultimates universe. With Josh Trank (Chronicle) directing, there is nothing for me too really complain about. Yet. The current furor over the casting of black & white siblings if that’s your main issue, says more about the mind set of many in the comic book reading community than the film producers.
This new team is much different than their Kirbyian roots and the Byrne run I loved so much as a kid. The much younger, “hipper” Ultimates Universe is where the source material will be drawn from rather than the series that launched in 1961. The Baxter Building is now a government run think tank for gifted youngsters. Sue Storm is also a super-genius in the 2004-debuting comic series, on par with Reed. In that series our heroes meet and through an inter dimensional experiment gone awry rather than a failed space shuttle accident, and gain both superhuman powers and the opportunity to prove themselves as a team of misfit toys. That series was written by Mark Millar, who is Fox’s Marvel consultant for both their Marvel Comics franchises. Very Disney XD but, there it is.
I think the outrage that isn’t just plain racism about Johnny Storm (“How can they be family and not related by blood?” Like your parents?) is tied directly to forty something’s and older like me feeling like we are being put out to pasture. “Our team” is eclipsed by these whippersnappers and I’m the first to admit its painful to feel dated. However, objectively new blood is needed for the franchise to grow and evolve. The Ultimates Universe is Marvel Cannon now. It is the way of things. Bell, Stellar, Mara & Jordan are neither fish nor fowl in this regard, on the old side to pull off the Ultimates team and far younger than the Original team. But we’ve seen post college age playing high school freshmen forever. 20th Century Fox clearly wants to start the franchise with folks that won’t be too old for sequels.
Marvels Pantheon of Heroes being owned by different studios has it’s challenges. For instance, Johnny, in cannon, is to marry Crystal, an alien princess from the Inhumans (an engineered race created by the intergalactic Kree Empire). As long as 20th Century Fox owns the FF rights and the Inhumans remain a Marvel Studios property, it is a love that may never be on the silver screen. I’m hopeful the partitions will begin to crack as lucrative possibilities of crossover projects build for the future. Who can say? Just take a deep, cleansing breath the release date June 19th 2015 is a long way off. I’m taking a page out of Uatu, The Watchers book and suspend my disbelief until more information or a trailer comes to light.
What are your thoughts? Feel free to sound off below.
cover art -Variety.Com
interior art – Marvel Comics