Recently, Christopher Nolan declared that the choice to cast Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in “Iron Man” was “one of the most consequential casting decisions that’s ever been made in the history of the movie business.”

By the end of this decade, the four actors who were recently cast as Marvel’s namesake superheroes may say the same. “The Fantastic Four”: Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Joseph Quinn, Vanessa Kirby, and Pedro Pascal. All of these performers, including Downey, have recently participated in large-scale shows; Pascal most notably “The Mandalorian” and “The Last of Us,” Kirby with the two most recent “Mission: Impossible” films, Quinn with “Stranger Things” and Moss-Bachrach with “Andor.” However, similar to Downey, none of them had starred in a studio action movie before to joining Marvel.

Before Stark passed away in 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame,” Downey, of course, proved to be such an incandescent presence as Iron Man that he pushed the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the next 11 years. He appeared in 10 films that have collectively made $12.5 billion in global box office grosses.” Since then, Downey’s absence has been acutely felt by Marvel fans, as has the loss of Chris Evans’ Captain America, who also took his (possibly) final bow in “Endgame.”

These two figures, Stark the brazen, rakish genius and Cap the stalwart, aw shucks warrior, were the yin and yang of the early Marvel Cinematic Universe, which eventually became the franchise’s centre of gravity. With the dissolution of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the hiatuses of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, and the untimely deaths of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and, sadly, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, Marvel has been desperately seeking a protagonist to act as the cornerstone of the most lucrative film franchise in Hollywood history. (With all due respect, Ant-Man and Doctor Strange are better served as strong sides than as the main course.)

If they finally take on the roles they’ve been performing in comic books since Stan Lee and Jack Kirby originally envisioned them in 1961, when the Marvel universe as we know it today began, the new Fantastic Four may be those characters. Johnny Storm (Quinn) and Reed Richards (Pascal) are akin to remixes of Stark and Cap; Johnny is Human Torch, the brazen and aloof warrior, while Reed is Mr. Fantastic, the dependable, aw shucks genius. In contrast to Captain Marvel or Scarlet Witch, Sue’s Invisible Woman develops into one of the most formidable power sets in the Marvel universe, but she is much more grounded and has regular worries about life on Earth. Ben Grimm (Moss-Bachrach), on the other hand, is a living tragedy—a gregarious, kind man trapped inside the Thing’s ostensibly monstrous body of orange boulders—a cross between Rocket and the Hulk without the antisocial misanthropy and the overwhelming fury.

Marvel comics readers are aware that these four characters have frequently been at the core of the continuing Marvel universe. Although the 2000s “Fantastic 4” films, in which Evans portrayed Johnny, had their charms, it’s safe to say that Marvel’s First Family has never received the high-caliber feature film adaptation that they so richly deserve. (It’s best to keep talk about the 2015 revamp to yourself.) Both Marvel and the Fantastic Four benefit from their inclusion in the MCU: Marvel obtains the essential core cast and the Fantastic Four have a cinematic home befitting their significance to Marvel history. The fact that Pascal, Kirby, Quinn, and Moss-Bachrach are all extraordinarily gifted actors also doesn’t hurt.

The most intriguing aspect of Wednesday’s announcement, though, is how Marvel approached it—they included a lighthearted picture of the actors dressed as Valentine’s Day celebrators. Ben looks to be reading a December 1963 issue of Life magazine, and other cues like the retro title treatment and mid-century modern attire and furnishings suggest that “The Fantastic Four” will take place in the 1960s.

More importantly, it implies that “The Fantastic Four”will take place in a different realm from the main Marvel Cinematic realm; if there existed a family of space age superheroes that were Peggy Carter and Howard Stark’s contemporaries, we most likely already know about them. Rather, it seems that Marvel is utilising this movie to essentially start over, so viewers won’t need to know anything about the more than 50 MCU films that have come before it to enjoy this one.

The Fantastic Four will undoubtedly ultimately appear in the main Marvel Universe, most likely in 2027’s “Avengers: Secret Wars,”which, if the plot from the eponymous 2015 comic book run is any indication, will include the collision of several parallel realities. That might result in the Fantastic Four (as well as the X-Men, as hinted at by the “The Marvels” post-credits scene) at the centre of a completely new, semi-rebooted MCU.


Topics #1960 #Christopher Nolan #Iron man #Marvel