The Fantastic Four, in spite of their early success in the comics and downright iconic status, have never quite seen the same success from their live-action adaptations. Tim Story’s 2005 film did well enough to see a sequel but the franchise quickly fell into development hell soon after, preventing a trilogy. The studio’s eventual answer in Josh Trank’s 2015 reboot is considered one of the worst of Fox’s Marvel offerings, with everyone pointing to studio interference as a cause. For some time in the mid-2010s, the Four even saw an exit from the comics, a move believed to be connected to the drama involving their live-action rights. This new status quo saw Human Torch joining the Inhumans and The Thing joining the Guardians of the Galaxy while Invisible Woman and Mister Fantastic were believed to be dead.
That all changed in July 2019, when Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige finished his San Diego Comic-Con presentation with the announcement that an MCU reboot of the team was officially underway – one of the many creative developments made possible after the controversial Disney-Fox merger. In these last few years, updates on Marvel Studios’ Fantastic Four have been scarce. Jon Watts, who was officially attached to direct since 2019, first brought the title back into the headlines by stepping down from the project, reportedly due to wanting a longer break from comic book films after Spider-Man: No Way Home. And, of course, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness made the conversation a whole lot more interesting thanks to some unexpected cameos.
Fantastic Four was given the official release date of November 8, 2024 at this year’s San-Diego Comic-Con, labeled as the first film of Phase 6 in the MCU. But just last week, WandaVision director Matt Shakman was confirmed to be taking over the project during the Marvel Studios D23 Expo presentation. This makes it the right time to discuss who should actually play Marvel’s first family. Unfortunately, conversations on who should portray the Fantastic Four in the MCU have become repetitive in the time since Kevin Feige’s first reveal, with two or three constant names being repeated for each role. Whereas some of these popular picks would definitely work well in their suggested roles (and will be acknowledged below), others seem to be gaining fame off hype alone. With that in mind, here are our top choices for who could finally nail Marvel’s First Family and why.
Sue Storm/Invisible Woman
What’s needed: Sue is almost always the mom of the group, a role that extends from raising her younger brother, Johnny, after the death of their mother. Generally depicted as pleasant and kind, Sue can turn at an instant whenever her loved ones are threatened too, using her force-field ability to its full, terrifying potential. She’s led the Fantastic Four and is shown to be one of the most powerful members, even capable of stopping a Celestial in its tracks for a time. Since her introduction in Fantastic Four #1, Sue has gone from the stealth-based Invisible Girl to the powerhouse Invisible Woman. Of the Fantastic Four, Sue has had the fewest popular fancasts make the rounds.
Jurnee Smollett (Birds of Prey, Lovecraft Country)
After a year or so of uncertainty, Jurnee Smollett has been announced to be returning for a DC film focused on Black Canary, coming directly to HBO Max as of now. Though they’re both superhero roles, Black Canary and Invisible Women are two very different types of characters. Smollett has made a number of appearances across various different genres, going from drama to action to horror, and has proved her range. She has also already played off Kang actor Jonathan Majors in HBO’s Lovecraft Country. It’s possible (even likely) that Smollett would not want to be tied to two ongoing cinematic universes, knowing how demanding just one can be, but if she was to take on the role of Sue Storm, she would be a great fit.
Kate Siegel (The Haunting of Hill House)
Kate Siegel has established herself across numerous horror titles as a dramatic force, taking on and making entirely her own extremely varied roles. Her ability to channel intensity would be perfect for Sue, especially when the character is forced to become serious in high-risk situations. Her starring performances in both The Haunting of Hill House and Midnight Mass are show-stopping and demonstrate her to be more than capable of being Sue Storm.
Adria Arjona (Good Omens)
Adria Arjona’s performance in Good Omens, arguably the quirkiest out of an already very quirky show, made her character (and her plotline) stand out even among David Tennant and Martin Sheen’s excellent leads. Although she just starred as Martine Bancroft, the main love interest in this year’s Morbius, it’s been established that the films in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe exist separate from the MCU, allowing her to take on a different, more prominent roles such as Invisible Woman. Arjona could make for an incredibly fun Sue Storm and could definitely nail Sue’s dynamics with her surrounding characters.
Kelly Marie Tran (Raya and the Last Dragon, Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
After her leading role as Rose Tico in Star Wars and voicing a Disney princess in Raya and the Last Dragon, Kelly Marie Tran is an actress that’s already been established within two other major Disney properties. Her performance as Raya has shown her ability to portray confident and lively characters, and her presence in Star Wars has her fitting in well among the sci-fi action that would be pivotal in a Fantastic Four adaptation. Tran has worked on Youtube skit videos as well, showing that she’s fit for any comedic beats that the MCU has become known for.
Johnny Storm/Human Torch
What’s needed: The showboat of the team, Johnny Storm is flashy, charming, and arrogant. The initial read on him is that he’s irresponsible (and this can often be the case), but Johnny also cares deeply for his family and will always come through in the end. Someone charismatic is necessary for the role and, considering the close relationship that Johnny holds with Spider-Man, it may be worth looking for someone within Tom Holland’s age range. Dacre Montgomery (Stranger Things, Power Rangers) has become a popular choice for the role and would certainly match the criteria, but these choices suit the character just as well.
Mason Gooding (Booksmart, Scream)
Having played a high school crush in Booksmart, a football player in Scream, and a bully in Love, Victor, Mason Gooding has shown that he can do every shade of popular. While Booksmart sees him as a genuinely nice, if not a bit clueless character, Gooding can easily switch to playing complicated, as Love, Victor portrays him struggling with becoming a better person. He’s had both the clueless bluntness and genuine sincerity that someone stepping into the role of the Human Torch would need to bring. Not to mention, Gooding himself has expressed interest in suiting up as the character recently.
Phil Dunster (Ted Lasso)
Phil Dunster caught a lot of eyes as cocky football player Jamie Tart in Apple TV’s Ted Lasso. Tart spent most of the first season as an unlikable, egotistical hothead, and has since opened up more in the second season, revealing a more vulnerable side on his road to becoming a more well-rounded team player. This specific arc and the way that Dunster portrays it make the actor a model fit for the Human Torch and his dynamic with the rest of the Fantastic Four.
Kit Young (Shadow and Bone)
Young’s role as Jesper in Shadow and Bone, a flashy criminal gunman, may not seem like it would be a match for Johnny Storm – and the parallels that are present are few and far between – yet his performance exudes the confidence and charm needed for the part. Though Jesper didn’t get a lot of depth in the first season of the Netflix show when compared to the other characters, he’ll hopefully be more developed in the upcoming season, and will surely remain a lot of fun to watch regardless. Even in his limited role, Young makes a quick and lasting impression.
Jacob Elordi (Euphoria)
Jacob Elordi’s performance as the unhinged Nate Jacobs in HBO’s Euphoria invoked a massive response, showing his skill in playing both a popular high school student and an imposing villain. Where the latter wouldn’t be exactly necessary for Johnny Storm, the rest of his range and the ability to still be charming despite his character’s actions point to a great pick for the Human Torch. He’s been suggested by fans for a number of different roles, with the X-Men’s Cyclops being a recurring one, but he’s already shown himself to be a solid pillar for the Human Torch and has more than made up for his less than stellar days on Netflix’s Kissing Booth series by now.
Ben Grimm/The Thing
What’s needed: Ben Grimm initially comes off as an irritable and angry tough-guy type, but he’s actually the heart of the team and his struggle with his appearance makes him one of the more grounded members of the Fantastic Four. He’s also one of the more personable characters in Marvel’s cast, having close relationships across the superhero community. He balances an intimidating presence with a heart of gold, and an actor capable of both (and ideally one familiar with voice acting) would be perfect in bringing The Thing to life.
Many believe that with Ben being one of the more prominent Jewish characters in comics (and often cited as being based on Jewish creator Jack Kirby), a Jewish actor would be appropriate for the role. Both Seth Rogen (Superbad) and Liev Schrieber (Ray Donovan) have become popular suggestions and ones that would no doubt do an excellent job as The Thing. Our choices, on the other hand, might just surprise you.
Jon Bernthal (Punisher, The Wolf of Wall Street)
Another previous Marvel actor, Bernthal has received acclaim for his starring performance as The Punisher in two seasons of his own Netflix series, as well as the second season of Daredevil. Regardless of Charlie Cox’s recent reappearance as Matt Murdock in No Way Home, it’s currently unclear as to how many of Marvel’s Netflix actors are returning in their original parts, and Bernthal would be suitable for another grumbly-voiced, tough-guy hero. Ben Grimm is a character with more emphasis on the kindness under his surface, a side that Bernthal has previously gotten to play, most notably as the scene-stealing Mr. McCarthy in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, but not one that he gets to take on nearly as much as the alternative. Bernthal has voice-acting experience, playing Raven’s father, Trigon, in the animated Teen Titans movies, and it may even be possible to have him take on a new role while still returning as the Punisher, seeing as Ben Grimm will most likely be a voice/motion capture-focused commitment.
Daveed Diggs (Hamilton, Blindspotting)
Not at all unfamiliar with action projects as one of the main faces of FX’s Snowpiercer series, Daveed Diggs was also reportedly considered for Moon Knight before the job went to Oscar Isaac. Not counting his esteemed musical career, Diggs isn’t new to big-budget voicework either, having worked with Pixar in 2020’s Soul and appearing in Disney’s upcoming remake of The Little Mermaid as none other than Sebastian the Crab. His vocal range that he’s shown, admittedly doesn’t have the deeper element genuinely associated with The Thing, yet his natural charisma could do wonders for a new interpretation.
Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso)
Editor’s Note: Brett Goldstein has since been cast as Hercules in the MCU as revealed in Thor: Love and Thunder. Goldstein’s stern qualities make for an exciting Hercules.
The next gravelly-voiced Ben Grimm and second Ted Lasso star to make this list, Brett Goldstein plays standout character Roy Kent on the beloved AppleTV show. He balances his rude, intimidating demeanor with his utter likability to make Kent a top fan favorite. He doesn’t have a lot of experience as a voice actor as of now, however, his voice has become instantly recognizable thanks to the show’s focus on the character. Goldstein’s casting, perhaps a bit out of left-field, would surely turn plenty of heads.
Jack Black (School of Rock, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle)
Just as much a seasoned voice actor as he is a physical one, Jack Black’s vocals are, without question, iconic, particularly for his starring role in the Kung Fu Panda series, not to mention his musical work with his band, Tenacious D. Black wouldn’t even be new to voicing monster-like characters, as he’s been pinned to voice Bowser in Nintendo and Illumination’s animated Super Mario Bros. movie. He may be a far older actor than the rest of the cast would be but it feels unlikely that we would be seeing Ben’s human form in anything other than flashbacks and photos of young versions of himself and Reed, meaning that Black’s voice would be more than enough for what’s required for The Thing to have a huge screen presence.
Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic
The first MCU Reed Richards actually just debuted in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, played by popular fancast John Krasinski. Many are already assuming that this implies Krasinski as the MCU’s core Mister Fantastic is a done deal, yet that might not be the case in reality. Having Krasinski show up as a variant leaves the door open to other choices, and the fact that his version was so definitively killed off after appearing in such a classic look for the character suggests that it’s possible that this was just an opportunity for Marvel Studios to give a nod to a popular fan choice before bringing in their own. A recent rumor hinting that Daniel Craig was asked to play this Reed even before Krasinski further supports the notion that this was always meant to be a one-and-done deal.
What’s needed: Reed is a complicated character, one that also comes with several misconceptions. While some versions of Reed have been shown with a strong ego, it’s not a consistent part of his character. Reed’s actual characterization has remained somewhat insistent on him being a firm, if not a bit absent-minded, leader. When dealing with larger-than-life science, it’s easy to overlook the small details, and that’s often an arc he has to go through in order to become more grounded. He’s been shown to be awkward at times, with a shaky sense of humor and a strong sense of curiosity. Additionally, later stories would place a larger emphasis on his role as a father, albiet he had always been the dad of the group before he even had children.
Reed Richards, if adapted accurately to the previous canon, would certainly be a new type of protagonist when introduced to the MCU. Bill Hader (Barry, IT: Chapter Two), Rahul Kohli (The Haunting of Bly Manor, iZombie), John Cho (Cowboy Bebop, Searching), and Dev Patel (The Green Knight, Lion) have all been mentioned in fan discussions for the character, and they would all certainly make for excellent Reeds. Here are some other ideal suggestions that we think could give the staple Marvel leader his due justice.
Jonathan Majors (Loki)
Jonathan Majors is a choice that would likely be confusing to many. After all, he’s already made his appearance as The One Who Remains, a parallel version of future Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania foe Kang the Conqueror, in the finale of Loki. However, there is a reason behind this choice. Kang’s real name is Nathaniel Richards and he’s a far descendant of Reed. As such, there’s some basis for why Reed and Kang would be played by the same actor. In fact, it’s happened before, with Kenneth Choi portraying Jim Morita in Captain America: The First Avenger, and then going on to play Jim’s grandson, Midtown High’s principal, in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Anyone looking at Majors’ performance thus far should be able to see the leading-man talent that he brings to the table, and he’s already delivered a standout performance as a version of Nathaniel before he’s even gotten the chance to be a lead villain. Casting Majors would also work to further tie Kang and Reed, two characters presumably being introduced not long after one another, together in a form of connectivity that the MCU has favored for its worldbuilding.
Hamish Linklater (Midnight Mass, Legion)
Coming off an incredible performance as Father Paul in Netflix’s hit horror series Midnight Mass, Hamish Linklater showed his ability to portray a complicated, tortured character with the absolute certainty that he’s doing the right thing. Father Paul shows many different layers to Hamish, but specifically how likable of an actor he is and how capable he is of carrying an ensemble. He’s had experience with Marvel already, portraying Agent Clark Debussy on FX’s X-Men show Legion as well as Doctor Doom’s right-hand man in the 2005 Fantastic Four. Linklater is a seasoned actor, having a leading part in the sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine, playing a predator in Tell Me Your Secrets, and making several appearances in Fargo, making him very fit to tackle all of Reed Richards’ emotional complexity.
William Jackson Harper (The Good Place)
Despite the fact that this is a popular choice for Mister Fantastic already, William Jackson Harper still makes our cut because he’s still one of the best choices for Reed – the hype here is very much warranted. Harper’s main cited role for why he would be terrific here is his performance as Chidi in The Good Place. An overwhelmed, anxious academic, Harper bringing this energy to Reed would be spot on. He would certainly still be able to capture a more composed Reed in the moments where it’s necessary, even just based on his stressed-out student character in Midsommar.
Daniel Radcliffe (Swiss Army Man, Horns)
Another unconventional pick, Radcliffe is an actor that’s often typecast due to his starring in the Harry Potter franchise. Be that as it may, Radcliffe has continuously shown his range in the years since the series ended, playing an eccentric billionaire, a slowly unraveling widower, a farting corpse, and much more. Radcliffe’s casting would bring to mind the character of the Maker too, an alternate-universe version of Reed Richards (particularly a younger Reed) that took a villainous role following a series of catastrophic events. With Marvel putting a spotlight on the Multiverse and the Maker’s relative popularity in comic circles, it feels possible that we could see him enter through the Multiverse to menace the Fantastic Four, and Radcliffe feels like a suited actor to harness the duality of both the Maker and Reed.