1. The Fantastic Four will hit theaters in June 2015
June 19, 2015, to be exact. That's six weeks after the highly anticipated Avengers: Age of Ultron kicks off summer blockbuster season, and a month before the release of Marvel's Paul Rudd-starring superhero flick Ant-Man.
2. Josh Trank will direct
If Josh Trank's name doesn't ring a bell, his last film might: 2012's Chronicle, an innovative hybrid of the found-footage and superhero genres that grossed an impressive $126 million on a slim $12 million budget. According to Deadline, Trank was "offered everything" after the success of Chronicle, and attached himself to several projects before eventually settling on The Fantastic Four as his follow-up.
3. The cast is pretty much locked down
The Fantastic Four is an ensemble piece. But unlike The Avengers, which had the luxury of introducing each of its heroes in individual movies, the Fantastic Four have always been grouped together, with none more important or higher-profile than the other. In February, Variety reported that Fox had finally settled on its four lead actors. Assuming that widely circulated reports are accurate, this is your new Fantastic Four:
- Miles Teller as Reed Richards (a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic)
Reed Richards, a noted scientific genius and the group's ostensible leader, has the ability to stretch his body into virtually any shape. In the previous Fantastic Four movies, Mr. Fantastic was played by Ioan Gruffudd.
Over the past year, Miles Teller has established himself as one of Hollywood's hottest up-and-coming young actors. He delivered a highly acclaimed performance in last summer's teen drama The Spectacular Now, and is also set to re-team with costar Shailene Woodley for Divergent, based on the popular YA novel of the same name.
- Kate Mara as Sue Storm (a.k.a. The Invisible Woman)
Sue Storm, who has the ability to make herself invisible and generate force fields, is both girlfriend and second-in-command to Reed Richards. In the previous Fantastic Four movies, Sue Storm was played by Jessica Alba.
Hardcore Marvel fans might remember Kate Mara from her brief appearance in Iron Man 2, but the vast majority of viewers will recognize Mara from her supporting turn as journalist Zoe Barnes in the Netflix original series House of Cards. She has also appeared in movies like Brokeback Mountain and127 Hours, and will star in the upcoming blockbuster Transcendence.
- Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm (a.k.a. The Human Torch)
Johnny Storm, a young daredevil and brother to Sue, has the ability to safely engulf his body in flames and has the power of flight. In the previous Fantastic Four movies, The Human Torch was played by Chris Evans, who's now better known among superhero fans as Captain America.
Michael B. Jordan's first major roles were in critically acclaimed TV shows like The Wire and Friday Night Lights, but his star has risen substantially over the past two years due to two major roles: A supporting turn as a popular teenager in Trank's Chronicle and the starring role in last year's based-on-a-true-story indie drama Fruitvale Station, which had many critics calling for a Best Actor nomination.
- Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm (a.k.a. The Thing)
Ben Grimm, the best friend of Reed Richards, had his body turned into rock, which gives him super-strength and makes him impervious to many attacks. In the previous Fantastic Four movies, The Thing was played by The Shield's Michael Chiklis.
Jamie Bell's first major role came when he was just 14 when he played the title character in Billy Elliot. In the years since, he has appeared in movies like King Kong, Jumper, and The Adventures of Tintin, and will next star in the upcoming AMC series Turn.
It's worth noting that these actors aren't technically final. Jordan has been attached for months, and Mara has reportedly finalized her deal. According to Variety, Teller has received an offer, though some specifics are still being worked out; while Bell's offer isn't on the table yet, he is "expected to be tapped" for the role. For now, it's safe to assume that the reports are accurate — but until the deals are finalized, anything could happen.
4. Doctor Doom will be probably the villain
Doctor Victor Von Doom is one of the most recognizable villains in the Marvel universe, so it's no great surprise that he's been widely reported as the likeliest villain for the Fantastic Four reboot. In the comics, Von Doom is a scientific genius whose intellect rivals (and arguably surpasses) Reed Richards'. He blames Richards for a failed lab experiment that caused significant damage to his face, and has repeatedly sought revenge on Richards and his allies. Doctor Doom wears a suit of armor that grants him a wide array of superpowers, including increased strength, defense, and the ability to survive in virtually any climate without food or water.
In the previous Fantastic Four movies, Doctor Doom was played by Julian McMahon. But a February story in The Hollywood Reporter suggests that the reboot might introduce an intriguing wrinkle: A female version of the character. "The studio is likely to go for a big name and isn't ruling out switching genders for the role," the story reports. For now, take that last detail with a grain of salt — director Josh Trank took to Twitter to dispute the story:
The THR gender speculation is also bullshit. Next.
— Josh Trank (@josh_trank) February 6, 2014
5. The story is set in the same universe as the X-Men movies
Thanks to The Avengers, audiences have grown accustomed to seeing their superheroes occupy the same cinematic universe. Though the Fantastic Four is a Marvel franchise, the rights are owned by 20th Century Fox, which means that there's no chance Nick Fury or any of the Avengers — the property of Walt Disney — will pop up to say hello.
But 20th Century Fox does own the rights to the X-Men franchise, which is set to continue with X-Men: Days of Future Past later this year. Ultimate Fantastic Four writer Mark Millar has confirmed that the Fantastic Four and X-Men franchises "exist in [the] same universe," but stresses that "there is NO crossover planned."
6. The Fantastic Four might offer a radical revision of the original Fantastic Four origin story
Here's where things get complicated. The 1961 original story for the Fantastic Four explains that the quartet's array of superpowers came about when they were exposed to "cosmic rays" during an outer space mission. (It was the 60s, just go with it.) That's more or less how the story played out in the 2005 Fantastic Four, and it's more or less how everyone expected things to play out in the reboot.
That's why fans were surprised when an alleged casting notice for the film offered a dramatically different take on the story. This version referred to an unspecified "event" that gives "very young friends" Reed Richards and Ben Grimm their powers. In the wake of their transformation, the two "end up being owned by the government and used as weapons." According to the summary, the Fantastic Four don't get their powers all at once in The Fantastic Four; Sue and Johnny Storm arrive later in the story, with their powers already intact. This take on the story is totally original, but it does hew closer to Mark Millar's 60-issue comic-book series Ultimate Fantastic Four, which centered on a younger version of the team in modern-day New York (and on which the reboot is reported to be based).
As news sites dutifully reported on this latest development, Trank took to Twitter once again to deny that the purported story details were accurate. "The only truth in that plot description is that there are four characters named Reed, Ben, Sue, and Johnny," he said in an interview with Badass Digest. But numerous websites that quoted the alleged plot summary verbatim received subsequent takedown notices from Fox Group Legal, alleging that "important qualitative details about character, plot, setting, and mood" were "harmful to Fox and to the filmmakers hard at work on the project."
Would 20th Century Fox bother with a takedown notice if the details were inaccurate? Maybe, if they thought that erroneous details would somehow have an impact on their actual plans for The Fantastic Four. But it's worth noting that Trank also used Twitter to deny that Miles Teller was up for a role in The Fantastic Four:
the casting rumor floating around today isn't true.... the end.
— Josh Trank (@josh_trank) August 2, 2013
@TheInSneider ... the plot thickens? you're nuts.
— Josh Trank (@josh_trank) August 2, 2013
If Teller is officially cast as Mr. Fantastic, it calls the rest of Trank's public statements about Fantastic Four rumors into question. For now, the only truly safe bet is the one that Trank himself offers: "You'll see in June of 2015."