Almost no MCU movie has been a part of more fan discussions as of late than Fantastic Four, which was officially confirmed to open Phase 6 during Marvel Studios’ San Diego Comic-Con presentation. And now, with WandaVision director Matt Shakman reportedly in talks to be this film’s director, attention turns towards the cast.
John Krasinski brought the MCU’s first Fantastic Four member to life with his portrayal of Reed Richards in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness only a few months ago. But after fulfilling many fans’ wishes in that movie, it seems unlikely that he will return to play the Earth-616 version of Mr. Fantastic in the MCU’s first F4 solo movie.
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige specifically explained that the team would look for “the best actor for the job” for Fantastic Four, regardless of popularity, with the search for the right stars being an extensive one. But now, a recent report indicates that Marvel might have their eye on at least one member of that high-profile cast.
Marvel Studios Eyeing Their Mr. Fantastic
Former "Birth. Movies. Death." editor-in-chief Devin Faraci revealed on the Marvelvision Podcast that Marvel Studios has spoken with Penn Badgley to star as Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic in Fantastic Four, which will premiere in theaters on November 8, 2024. Most recently, John Krasinski played a (now-deceased) Variant version of Richards in 2022's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
While Faraci expressed his hopes for a Black Mr. Fantastic, he expects that the MCU's version "is going to be very traditional:"
"I've long been stumping for a Black Reed Richards. I think John David Washington would be an incredible Reed Richards, I mean I've been stumping for this forever, and I'm not going to get it. I'm not going to get a Black Reed either. [Reed Richards] is going to be very traditional, is my guess."
According to Faraci, Marvel Studios has been eyeing white actors, Badgley in particular, for the role of Reed Richards:
"The guys that [Marvel Studios] been talking to about it are all white guys. That guy [Penn Badgley] from the show You, who probably has the role already, frankly, he's a white guy. They're going with the standard... And he's terrific, by the way, that's a good choice. But, they're going very classical."
Update: Faraci has since clarified that he heard of Badgley's involvement from a Reddit rumor, while other anonymous insiders like GreatPhase have claimed that Badgely's name is in the Reed Richards casting conversation at Marvel Studios.
Will Badgley Be Confirmed for Fantastic Four?
Penn Badgley has made a name for himself as a rising star in Hollywood over the past couple of years. He is best known for his regular role on Gossip Girl and more recently excelling in the Netflix drama You. Although he wasn’t even seen as a long shot in the initial odds released for the Fantastic Four cast in late 2020, he has slowly become a more popular choice for playing the MCU’s supreme stretchy scientist.
Should Badgley actually land the role, he would seem to be a great fit at only 35 years old, coming as someone of a similar fame level and status as many current MCU stars before they joined. Thor headliners Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston became household names through the super-powered franchise, as did others like Tom Holland and Iman Vellani. And Badgley could continue that same trend if he becomes the MCU’s Mr. Fantastic.
Marvel Studios' announcement for Reed Richards is something that could be announced as early as the 2022 D23 Fan Expo, with the studio's big MCU panel coming on September 10, and it would only make sense to announce the Fantastic Four’s leader as a start. If and when that rumor becomes confirmation, the attention then turns to the rest of the cast.
Recently, Gotham star Drew Powell threw his own name out to play the MCU’s Ben Grimm/The Thing, and The Mandalorian director Bryce Dallas Howard has denied rumors about being cast as Sue Storm. No matter the rest of the team comes together, anticipation is building to see this cosmic quartet finally take their place in the MCU.
Fantastic Four will debut in theaters on November 8, 2024.