Paramount via Everett Collection
You don’t mess with a geek’s favorite comic book characters. Ben Affleck was cast as Batman and it almost broke the Internet. Halle Berry was cast as Storm and Catwoman and people are still dealing with it in therapy. Yet, the new Fantastic Four’s cast of Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and That Awkward Moment co-stars Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller has actually drummed up some excitement for a reboot. Although offbeat choices, the actors are actually making the generally lame Fantastic Four seem... interesting.
It’s hard to cast iconic roles like Batman, Superman, and Spiderman because everyone has an opinion. They are beloved, timeless, and it can be challenging to decide whether to cast an unkown or a major star. But the Fantastic Four are hardly as iconic as either of DC's top dogs, or any of Marvel's other heroes. The distinct casting choices might actually save the Fantastic Four reboot, after the critical failures of the first go 'round.
For instance, Bell might not look like a big goon like Ben Grimm, but he might better capture the alienation of turning into a big rock than Michael Chiklis could. Mara is a vastly different choice than Jessica Alba was for Sue Storm. The House of Cards star may be able to give her more of an edge than she usually gets in the comics. Jordan is perfect because he can blend comedy with drama. He stretched his dramatic muscles in Fruitvale Station and showed the human side of superpowers in Chronicle. These casting choices add another vital layer to a comic book that’s about a family unit. But families are more complicated than road trips to Venus and the drama of sharing a bathroom. The former films focused too much on keeping the look and cheesy tone of the original comics. Alba may have been the physical match for Sue Storm, but her character didn't have the necessary flare.
The Avengers is a prime case for lame characters saved by good acting. Thor is an obnoxious thunder god who decides to spend his free time on Earth? Chris Hemsworth captures that cockiness but also brings the superpower of abs to the table. Robert Downey Jr. patented blend of sarcasm and humor saves a character whose super power could have read like a glorified Inspector Gadget. The Hulk is such a hard sell it took two movies and three actors to get him ready for The Avengers. Thanks in no small part to such gifted actors, the movie ranks as one of the highest grossing in history.
Conversely, Affleck went to a much darker place than the comics might have allowed for the role of Daredevil. Matt Murdock is a blind lawyer with vastly enhanced senses. Affleck did a great job and, shockingly, proved he could play Batman. Affleck’s character was battle-worn, addicted to painkillers, and cut off from society. All that and he actually had super powers. This film is like one long screen-test. It was actually disappointing that Affleck couldn’t just put on the black leather outfit and pointy ears. A blind superhero who uses sonar to “see” seems to undercut the character succeeding over adversity. Also, he, Bullseye, and Kingpin aren’t interesting enough characters for their own movie.
Likable actors who give great performances make the difference. They not only ground the magic and science-fiction and the ever-revolving high stakes but they also make the movie fun to watch. They are also able to find another access point to the character. On paper, these characters are just archetypes but the right actor can make them full-fledged people. If you have any questions as to the complexities of playing comic book heroes be sure not to ask Brandon Routh, Ryan Reynolds, or Jennifer Garner.
Former The Wire star Michael B. Jordan is refusing to pay attention to negative comments concerning his casting in the new Fantastic Four reboot, insisting critics will always have something bad to say. The African American actor recently landed the role of Johnny Storm/The Human Torch in the forthcoming comic book movie, taking over from Chris Evans, who portrayed the superhero in the 2005 original.
Jordan's appointment as the classic character prompted some film fans to speak out against the casting decision as his on-screen sister, Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman, is set to be played by Caucasian House of Cards actress Kate Mara, but the 27 year old is paying no mind to his "haters".
He tells the Huffington Post, "People are going to be critics. Haters are going to find something to hate about (sic). I'm a young black man. I've been criticised."
Referring to his famous namesake, basketball icon Michael Jordan, he jokingly adds, "My name is Michael Jordan. He gave me a chip on my shoulder that I needed (early on in life) to push me (to achieve)."
The Fantastic Four remake is also set to feature Jordan's That Awkward Moment co-star Miles Teller and British actor Jamie Bell, as Reed Richards/Mr Fantastic and Ben Grimm/The Thing, respectively.
The movie is due to be released next year (15).
Fox has just announced the cast of Josh Trank's upcoming Fantastic Four reboot, and things are looking a little left of center. Joining Michael B. Jordan's Johnny Storm will be Miles Teller as Reed Richards, Kate Mara as Sue Storm, and Jamie Bell as The Thing. And while some of these casting's aren't quite set in stone, this is increasingly looking like the final lineup for the film. Saying that the new movie is casting against type would be an understatement. The new cast is virtually unrecognizable compared to the 2005 version, and the internet is erupting in reactions from every inch of the emotional spectrum. From seething rage, to elation, and even mild confusion, The casting of Marvel's first family has people divided in earnest. Here are our thoughts on the casting choices.
MILES TELLERas Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic
A24 via Everett Collection
How He Fits: He kind of doesn't. At all.
How He Deviates: There’s a loveable goofiness to Miles Teller, but we're not quite connecting the dots between him and Reed Richards just yet. He’s not quite nerdy enough, and he definitely doesn’t have a dignified scientist aura to him. We don’t see much of Reed Richards in Teller at all.
How He Compares to Ioan Gruffudd: Worse. Gruffudd was one of the few bright spots of the largely banal first film. He really looked the part of Reed Richards.
Public Consensus: The one phrase to sum up the twitter reactions would be a resounding "Uhhh….What?" People seem to be mostly just confused by the casting choice, and many are complaining that Teller is simply too young to play Reed. Twitter user @dylhorgan asled, "This week in bad superhero movie casting: How is Miles Teller even close to being old enough to play Reed Richards?"
Final Assessment: Teller, for our money, is the biggest question mark of the casting announcement. There isn’t anything about the actor that screams “Mr. Fantastic”, though he was obviously cast for a reason. I guess we’re going to have to wait and see on this one.
KATE MARAas Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman
How She Fits: Physically, Mara seems to be a match for the Sue Storm in the comics, especially since she’s recently dyed her hair blonde. Personality-wise, she seems like a solid choice as well, since Sue is somewhat reserved and shy – Mara plays a lot of quieter characters. Between her ambitious reporter on House of Cards and her hacker/revolution-leader in Transcendence, Mara shouldn’t have any trouble portraying Sue’s genius intellect.
How She Deviates: Mara’s characters tend to be a lot darker than Sue Storm, who gives off a more innocent, all-American vibe, which could affect the way that Sue is written for this reboot.
How She Compares to Jessica Alba: Mara’s definitely a better choice than Alba, who, while not terrible, wasn’t given much to do other than run around and look pretty.
Public Consensus: Fan response to the casting has been overwhelmingly positive. To quote Twitter user @Roby_Aguilar: "OMG. OMG. OMG. MILES TELLER, MICHAEL B. JORDAN, JAMIE BELL & KATE MARA IN FANTASTIC FOUR?!?!?!?!?! God is real. GOD. IS. REAL."
Final Assessment: Mara’s a good choice for Sue Storm. She’s a talented actress, and she doesn’t fit the “bombshell” constraints that female actresses in superhero films tend to get stuck in, which means she will hopefully get more to do onscreen than Alba did. And since it seems to have been the least outrage-stirring casting choice that the team behind this reboot has made, she also seems to be approved by the fans. She generally comes across darker and more serious than Sue is, though, and since we haven’t really seen her play particularly upbeat characters, that could keep her from meshing well with the rest of the cast
MICHAEL B. JORDANas Johnny Storm/The Human Torch
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
How He Fits: Jordan has the natural charm and charisma to play a freewheeling ladies man, but he also has a daring quality to him that a character like Johnny Storm needs. He might not have the necessary physique quite yet, but a quick trip to the gym can fix that.
How He Deviates: The biggest deviation in all of the casting news, Michael B. Jordan is nlack whereas Johnny Storm has always been portrayed as a white man. Cue the Twitter riots.
How He Compares to Chris Evans: Better. Now don't get us wrong, Evans played a fine Johnny Storm. But over the past few years, Jordan has proven himself to be a monumental young talent. While Evans certainly had Johnny Storm's trademark wit in spades, Jordan might be able to mine the character's hidden depths while still cracking wise and getting the girls.
Public Consensus: Many have commented on Jordan’s race being an issue, but (optimistically!) an emerging tide of Twitter users are trumpeting the actor's talents, laying waste to the idiotic arguments that a black Human Torch is "sacrilege." Twitter user @ZachLNFS tweeted “Michael B. Jordan is the one bright spot in the Fantastic Four cast and, of course, the most derided. Good job, Fox. Good job, internet." Other’s are wondering how Kate Mara and Michael B. Jordan are going to play siblings. We're guessing adoption.
Final Assessment: The actor clearly has the goods to play a terrific Johnny Storm, despite what some of the seedier corners of the Twittersphere think about race in comic books. Ignorant tirades aside, he’s clearly the best actor of the bunch and a considerable step up from the previous Human Torch.
JAMIE BELLas Ben Grimm/The Thing
Summit Entertainment via Everett Collection
How He Fits: Once Ben Grimm becomes The Thing, he has a lot of trouble dealing with his new powers, which take a toll on him emotionally. Bell plays a lot of brooding characters, which means he would have no trouble portraying all of the inner turmoil that The Thing is experiencing.
How He Deviates: Ben and The Thing are huge, strong, muscular guys, whereas Bell is… not. This is less important after he turns into The Thing, but since we don’t know how much of the group’s origins the film will focus on, it might be difficult to believe that Bell spent his childhood protecting Teller from bullies. Ben’s also a pretty happy-go-lucky guy, while Bell tends to come across as serious and brooding.
How He Compares to Michael Chiklis: When it comes to giant orange space rock monsters, nobody beats Michael Chiklis.
Public Consensus: It’s pretty mixed. There are plenty of people who are excited about his casting, but many are concerned that’s he’s not built enough to play the role properly – for example, Twitter user @BCCrooky said they would "like to see Jamie bell, scrawny Jamie bell who played tinting, as Ben Grimm aka the thing."
Final Assessment: We probably would have swapped Bell and Teller’s roles, if we’re being honest. Bell just seems to work better as a serious, genius scientist, while Teller seems more likely to play his upbeat sidekick. However, Ben has a difficult time dealing with his transformation, which caused a lot of psychological trauma; Bell would definitely be able to play those aspects of the character really well. Since he’ll likely spend most of the film being CGIed into his rocky form, his acting ability is probably more important than his physical appearance in the end.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.