by Ryan Rigley

Fear not, “Fantastic Four” fans! Clobberin’ time is nearly upon us. Josh Trank’s “Fantasic Four” reboot has a release date of March 6, 2015, just months before the release of Earth’s Mightiest Sequel on May 1, 2015. With comic book writer Mark Millar recently hired to connect the worlds of Fox’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, it would appear as though the X-Men and Marvel’s First Family could be colliding onscreen sooner than you think.

But where does this leave the Avengers? In addition to being one of the founding members of the Fantastic Four, Benjamin Grimm (better known as the Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing) has also been an active member of both the West Coast Avengers and, more recently, the New Avengers. So how about seeing the Thing in Joss Whedon’s “Avengers” sequel? This week’s Assembling Avengers takes a look at how that would work!

Growing up on Yancy Street in the heart of New York City, Ben Grimm quickly joins a local gang led by his older brother Daniel. Struggling through poverty and hardship, Ben is forced to toughen up as each of his family members die one after the other. It isn’t until after Ben is placed under the care of his uncle Jake that he really flourishes. Being the natural athlete that he is, Ben receives a football scholarship to Empire State University wherein he meets and becomes best friends with Reed Richards, later known as Mr. Fantastic.

After college, Ben joins the U.S. Air Force and becomes an astounding pilot in the process. Eventually, he’s even offered a spot at NASA. Years later, Reed contacts Ben about piloting his experimental spaceship. Ben, who is quite reluctant at first, is soon persuaded by Reed’s future wife, Sue Storm, and her brother, Johnny. During their unauthorized trip to outer space, the crew of four are bombarded by cosmic rays endowing each of them with a unique superpower. Thus, the Fantastic Four were born.

As the Thing, Ben possesses superhuman strength and stamina. He’s also impervious to all types of physical injury being that his body is made up of thick, orange plates of rock. When it comes right down to it, the Thing popping up in the “Avengers” sequel makes perfect sense. After all, both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four are based in New York City, so why wouldn’t they bump into each other at some point? Not to mention the fact that Joss Whedon would have a field day writing for him; what with all of the Thing’s self-pitying and hilarious one-liners.

Unfortunately, 20th Century Fox stills owns the rights to “Fantastic Four” with the rights to “The Avengers” over at Marvel Studios; which makes a “Fantastic Four”/”Avengers” crossover film easier said than done. However, as we mentioned last week, not entirely out of the question. With the Oscorp Tower from “Amazing Spider-Man” almost appearing in the first “Avengers” film, cameos are clearly still in the cards. So while we might not be getting a full-blown team-up movie anytime soon, we’d just as easily settle for a brief post-credits Thing cameo.

In Assembling Avengers, we’re picking a new Marvel Comics superhero every week and arguing why they deserve a spot on the roster for Earth’s mightiest sequel. Let us know which heroes you want to see in the next “Avengers” in the comments or on Twitter!

Previous Assembling Avengers Candidates:
» Wolverine
» Mockingbird
» The Sentry
» Hercules
» Wonder Man
» The Wasp
» Luke Cage
» Scarlet Witch
» Moondragon
» Nova
» Spider-Woman
» Iron Fist
» Ms. Marvel
» The Vision
» Black Panther
» Ant-Man
» Silver Surfer
» Doctor Strange