After months of speculation, we finally have some definitive information on FOX's "Fantastic Four" reboot. As first noticed by a site called Acting Auditions, actor Michael B. Jordan is officially on board the project, reteaming with director Josh Trank ("Chronicle"). In addition, we also have our first rundown of the revised origin for the Marvel superhero team and plot for the movie. But is that the whole story?
First, a little bit of background: Fantastic Four is one of the two properties, along with X-Men, that are licensed by FOX, rather than sitting neatly in the Disney stable. Though the studio has already made one unsuccessful go at the franchise, the movies need to stay in production or the rights revert back to Marvel Studios. Hence a reboot of the property, which has been in development for several years. Jordan has long been rumored to be taking on the part of Johnny Storm, a.k.a. The Human Torch in the movie, but nothing else has been confirmed... Until now.
The first clue came from Louisiana's government entertainment set, which lists productions happening throughout the state. Information for sites like these are usually submitted by production managers seeking permission to shoot in the area, so any info won't just be gleaned from the often unreliable superhero rumors sites. According to them:
"Fox feature film 'Fantastic Four' starring Michael B. Jordan will begin shooting March 24th in Baton Rouge."
Notice that they don't specify what part Jordan will be playing, but that's certainly a smoking gun if we've ever seen one.
The second clue/info on the plot comes from Production Weekly, an industry magazine that lists productions, shooting locations and casting info. According to the Thursday, January 23 issue, "Fantastic Four" is produced by Matthew Vaughn and Kevin Feige; written by Jeremy Slater, Seth Grahme-Smith, and Simon Kinberg; and confirms that Joshua Trank is directing, with the only confirmed cast as Michael B. Jordan (again, without specifying a role).
All of this isn't surprising, but what is, is the plot description:
"Two friends (who end up being Mr. Fantastic and The Thing), starts with them being really young. An event happens at 16 that changes them, instead of being superheroes, they are basically owned by the government and used as weapons. (Miles Teller, Kit Harington and Richard Madden testing for Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic. / Kate Mara and Saoirse Ronan are being tested for Sue Storm/Invisible Woman. / June 19, 2015 release date.)"
For those not familiar with the Fantastic Four's comic book origin, the titular foursome test an experimental rocket, which ends up being bombarded with cosmic rays and granting them amazing powers. Even the "Ultimate Fantastic Four" comic book, which recast the team as teens working in a think tank run by the government, had them all getting their powers together; though this time due to a teleporter accident.\
Point being, perhaps even more radical than the revamped origin of their powers is that the Fantastic Four don't actually get their abilities at the same time.
The other point we'll mention, though this is pure speculation, is that we have actors confirmed as testing for Reed Richards and Sue Storm, but not Johnny Storm (The Human Torch) or Ben Grimm (The Thing). Yes, Jordan has been rumored to be the Human Torch pretty much since this project was announced; but given the plot's focus on the friendship between Reed and Ben, what if he's actually playing The Thing?
It would be a bit of a left turn, but traditionally Johnny is the comic relief of the group, while The Thing is the heart and soul. Given Jordan's increased profile and versatility as an actor, it wouldn't be too surprising to see a switch, with Jordan playing the soulful Thing instead of the jokey Torch. It would also be "interesting" to see whether the notoriously closed minded comic book community would get more upset seeing the African-American Jordan cast as the traditionally Caucasian Johnny Storm, or the traditionally Jewish and Caucasian Ben Grimm.
With shooting beginning shortly (in Baton Rouge on March 24, though it may head to other locations earlier), we should expect some official casting announcements soon.
"Fantastic Four" hits theaters on June 19, 2015.