‘Fantastic Four’ not so fantastic

By Jeremy Paskoff

Actor Michael B. Jordan, who has been cast as The Human Torch in the upcoming reboot of "The Fantastic Four."  (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
Actor Michael B. Jordan, who has been cast as The Human Torch in the upcoming reboot of “The Fantastic Four.” (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

When the cast for the new “Fantastic Four” reboot was announced recently, it was met with extreme disdain, and rightfully so, as it’s abysmal.

For those who don’t know the history of the Fantastic Four, they are a group of four friends who make a voyage into outer space. After being exposed to cosmic energy, the crew comes back with fantastic powers (pardon the pun, but not really). The group consists of Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, Susan Storm/Invisible Woman, Ben Grimm/The Thing and Johnny Storm/Human Torch.

The first gripe, and one of the lesser of the problems going around, is the youthfulness of the leads. It’s understandable that the cast is entirely composed of younger actors, since the intergalactic voyage of the Fantastic Four happened shortly after Ben and Reed’s college graduation. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to pick every young, attractive rising star as the leads. Jamie Bell is far too pretty to be The Thing – can’t we get Michael Chiklis back?

One of the other main issues is the casting of rising star Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch and on-screen sister Kate Mara as Invisible Woman. As mentioned prior, Sue and Johnny are siblings by blood, making it more accurate if the two characters were the same race. Jordan was supposedly a choice by the director – an absolutely fine decision – but then what’s the harm in making Sue the same race? The other logical possibility is that the brother and sister came from biracial parents, but it’s a bit far-fetched since Mara and Jordan bear little to no resemblance at all to one another. Casting a biracial actress instead of Mara is another option that the casting director ignored during the decision process.

Marvel has always had teams that rebooted their characters with different ethnicities, most notably Mark Millar’s “The Ultimates” comic incarnation of Nick Fury (portrayed by an awesome and memorable Samuel L. Jackson in the cinematic universe). So even though Jordan could be the new face of the Human Torch, he couldn’t be more out of place – blame it on his co-star or director, your pick. It will take a lot of convincing and a hearty in-film explanation to legitimize his familial ties to Sue Storm.

Now avert your gaze from this train wreck and look at another recently announced Marvel movie – “Guardians of the Galaxy.” A James Gunn (“Slither,” “Super”) production, the cast is equally as diverse as “Fantastic Four,” but the trailer seems to do it justice. The casting of Chris Pratt as Star-Lord and Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket Raccoon is questionable, but they seem to mesh well. Maybe that’s because one of them will be a CGI talking raccoon, but that’s beside the point. They all fit, clearly demonstrated by the film’s debut trailer. Even with a sampling of well-written dialogue similar to “Avengers” and the “Iron Man” series, the trailer fleshes out these smorgasbord actors into these characters, so the acting choices don’t seem as ridiculous as “Fantastic Four.”

Clearly, “Fantastic Four” can rebound from these blunders, even if fans of the series won’t be pleased. Apologies and explanations are in order, but there might still be hope for this. Otherwise, we might be looking for a new reboot soon.

Let’s just hope Stan Lee makes an awesome cameo to make up for this.

Jeremy Paskoff can be reached at [email protected]