A new rumor claims Marvel Studios may be considering making the Thing female in Fantastic Four, and they may even have one actress in mind already.
The casting for the MCU's Fantastic Four has been a hot topic for years now, and with the search ongoing under director Matt Shakman, rumors for the movie's hero and villain actors have been thrown around more often than ever.
Most of these rumors have surrounded Reed Richards and Sue Storm, with only limited talk of Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm. Although an update indicated Marvel may be seeking a Jewish actor for the Thing, authentic to his comic background.
The MCU Might Gender-Swap Fantastic Four's Thing
Marvel Studios might be considering gender-swapping the Thing, aka Ben Grimm, for its 2025 Fantastic Four reboot, at least that is if a recent rumor from popular scooper MyTimeToShineHello (MTTSH) is to be believed.
The scooper purports Marvel Studios and director Matt Shakman are searching for a Jewish actor for the role, however, what comes as a surprise is how they are supposedly looking are "both male and female" talent for the role.
They specifically noted Friends with Benefits actress Mila Kunis as one of those being considered. Rumors swirled of the actress' involvement in Fantastic Four after she was spotted at lunch with Shakman in February, although most speculated she would play Sue Storm - usually the team's only female member.
MTTSH also stated Shakman "insisted" on a Jewish actor for the Thing, likely to accurately portray the character's comic roots. Neither of the Thing's past live-action actors - Michael Chiklis and Jamie Bell - are believed to be Jewish.
Just two days before this rumor surfaced, Kunis, speaking on The Late Late Show with James Corden, addressed the possibility of her appearing in Fantastic Four and appeared to shut down talk of her being in the movie.
It's safe to say the rumor proved controversial on Twitter, with countless fans outraged at the idea, and some, such as @NonExistentAlt8, proclaiming they "will not be watching" if a female Thing is cast:
"Listen, I love marvel. Sometimes gender swapping characters is for the better. However, if this does happen, I will not be watching"
Even going beyond Fantastic Four, some, including @IMP3423, suggested a decision like this could impact the whole MCU:
"Yeah if they genderswap the thing then the MCU is cooked fr"
Many stated they have been on board with past gender swaps, but not in this case. @dub0890 called the Fantastic Four character "way too iconic" to be gender-swapped for the MCU:
"This is where I draw the line with the gender swapping…not the thing please not the thing he’s way too iconic!"
But it wasn't all doom and gloom, The GWW's KC Walsh pointed out how the Thing's dynamic of feeling "ugly and rejected" may actually be "more relevant" to a woman than a man:
"Again nothing about Ben having a vagina instead of a penis is disrespectful to his character in fact a huge part of The Thing is how ugly and rejected he feels based on his looks, something WOMEN deal with 1000x more and is more relevant to them than a man"
Similarly, The Hollywood Reporter's Richard Newby noted the potential for an "interesting dynamic" in using Marvel Comics' female Thing, Sharon Ventura, and pushing Ben Grimm to the side for a while:
"I’m not opposed to a female Thing. The comics already set a precedent for it with Sharon Ventura. I think it’d be an interesting dynamic if she was utilized and Ben was temporarily cured or 'lost.' But I don’t think they’ll make Grimm female because of the fan backlash."
Marvel Has Had a Female Thing Before
Although Ben Grimm may be the character most famously associated with becoming the Thing, he isn't the only one, as the duties of the Fantastic Four's rocky hero have also fallen to Sharon Ventura in the past.
Ventura quickly struck up chemistry with Grimm after they met through a motorcycle stunt team. She later gained super strength after going through an experimental process in an effort to join the Grapplers, a female wrestling group.
After spending some time in the group under the alias of Ms. Marvel, Ventura was forced to escape with the help of the Thing, which led to her eventually joining the Fantastic Four under her wrestling persona.
However, on a return trip from outer space with the Thing, the pair's shuttle was hit by cosmic rays, mutating Ventura to take on a similar rocky appearance to Grimm, and thus she became She-Thing.
Marvel may adapt to utilize elements of Sharon Ventura's for Fantastic Four if they were to utilize her in place of Ben Grimm. Although most of these events wouldn't fit with the existing MCU, so it's more likely she would just be slotted into Grimm's usual origin - that said, the reboot isn't even expected to be an origin story.
Why Marvel Might Be Gender-Swapping Fantastic Four's Thing
Even with the Marvel Comics precedent for a female Thing in the form of Sharon Ventura, most will know the Fantastic Four member for the male Ben Grimm. Opting to gender-swap the character would undoubtedly prove controversial among fans, and Marvel Studios will undoubtedly be more than aware of that.
So, with a significant departure from a traditional Fantastic Four putting the MCU at risk of huge backlash and chancing the potential failure of one of its most-anticipated movies, why would Marvel Studios take such a direction?
For one, Matt Shakman may be seeking a way to put his own stamp on the Fantastic Four, setting his movie apart from the last two adaptations. Or perhaps the director simply wants another female hero to play off Sue Storm, as a gender-swapped Thing would leave the team with an even gender split.
The studio could also be having difficulty finding an actor to portray the Thing that also matches its apparent requirement of a Jewish background, and as such has opted to widen its search by removing the gender restriction.
Whatever the case, Marvel Studios ought to have its Fantastic Four cast lined up soon, with production set to begin early next year. As casting rumors heat up and the search continues, the actors set to bring Marvel's First Family to life could be announced as soon as this July's San Diego Comic-Con.
Fantastic Four hits theaters on February 14, 2025.