The status of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Fantastic Four reboot remains close to the vest, but fans of Marvel's first family can rest easy knowing Spider-Man: No Way Home director Jon Watts is bringing the project to life. Fantastic Four is reportedly Watts' next directorial outing, meaning it will likely hit theaters at some point in the next two years.
Within those two years will come significant updates from the production, including the highly-anticipated casting announcement. Fans have long clamored for real-life acting couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt to take on the roles of Reed Richards and Sue Storm in the MCU, while everyone from Seth Rogen to John Cena has been fan-cast as The Thing.
Then comes Johnny Storm.
While the critical reception of previous Fantastic Four films has been nothing to write home about, the talent secured for the Human Torch cannot be understated. Blossoming A-Listers like Chris Evans and Michael B. Jordan flamed on just a few years before skyrocketing into top-billed status. There have been rumblings of who Marvel Studios is eyeing for the hothead, and this Spider-Man: No Way Home star has thrown a fellow Outer Banks cast member's name into the ring.
Spider-Man's Gary Weeks Wants Rudy Pankow for Johnny Storm
Speaking with The Direct, Spider-Man: No Way Home and Outer Banks actor Gary Weeks acknowledged Outer Banks co-star Rudy Pankow as "exactly" what he thinks would be "perfect for the character" of Johnny Storm.
"Not only could I see him pulling it off, I think he could raise the bar on it. It's amazing what's been done. I didn't mean it that way. He's just got something with him. He can be sweet and amazing, but he also has this burning side. That side that wants to be heard and seen. Just exactly what I think would be perfect for the character, and you're dead on with the hair. His hair's amazing."
In Outer Banks, Weeks portrays Luke Maybank, the father of Pankow's JJ. The two share a significant amount of screen time across two seasons, including scenes that take emotional conversations to a physical level.
While their characters have a bitter relationship, Weeks and Pankow share a strong bond.
"He's the guy you want to be working with on set. They would be lucky to have him if that did happen."
Diving deeper into his experience working on OBX, Weeks noted he "felt like home" on set due to the show's filming locations, and suspected from the early days that it was bound to be "a massive hit."
"The instant camaraderie that everybody had, everyone was so excited. I grew up in south Georgia, so basically where we were shooting I had seen those places. It kind of felt like home. Meeting everyone there felt like home. I had a feeling that this show could go somewhere, and then I saw it, because I had only seen my stuff. I saw what was going on and I thought, 'This thing is going to be a massive hit."
Outer Banks Season 3 is currently shooting, and will feature Pankow's JJ back in a leading role. Fans last saw Weeks' Luke flee Kildare County on a boat. While a return to the series has been left open by his Season 2 arc, Weeks says his lips are sealed.
"I can tell you that if he is back... I can't tell you. It's more or less an NDA thing, but it's also a fun thing. Even if I could, I can't tell you. We'll see what happens."
Rudy Pankow as Human Torch?
If this fan-casting does come to life, Pankow has already rubbed shoulders with one of the MCU's resident young heroes. Earlier this year, Pankow starred alongside Tom Holland in Uncharted, portraying Nathan Drake's long lost brother.
This particular casting, if it comes to fruition, would steer the Fantastic Four in a younger direction. Johnny Storm has always been the youngest of the group, but getting someone like Pankow would have the character as more of a college age rather than the mid-to-late 20s that Evans and Jordan brought.
That said, Pankow's vibe on Outer Banks is pretty picture perfect for the Human Torch. As Weeks mentions, he brings both the "sweet" and "burning" sides to the role of JJ, both of which are key traits of Johnny Storm. If Marvel Studios is looking to tap into the hot head with someone who has already proven they can bring his elements to life, Pankow seems like a top choice.
Fantastic Four is currently in development at Marvel Studios.