Questioning The “Miscasting” Of Pedro Pascal As Mr. Fantastic

A couple weeks ago, via a post on X, Marvel Studios shared the quartet of actors that will be donning the classic blue costumes of the beloved “First Family” in their upcoming Fantastic Four film, which is slated to release in the summer of next year. The post, which was uploaded on Valentine’s Day, was accompanied by a nice piece of aesthetically 60s artwork that saw all four actors in the bodies of their characters, lounging around a living room. You had Joseph Quinn as Johnny Storm (Human Torch) looking over at The Thing reading a magazine, whose character’s portrait hung behind him on the wall as Ben Grimm prior to his transformation, which showed the actor Ebon Moss-Bachrach taking on the role. Then on the right you had Vanessa Kirby as Sue Storm (Invisible Woman) sharing a cute moment with Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic), whose face is shown to be none another than Pedro Pascal.

Marvel’s Fantastic Four
Image: Marvel Studios on X

Ms. Kirby aside, I’m familiar with the past works of these actors, at least their most known roles. Joseph Quinn’s performance as the erratic and endlessly charming Eddie Munson in the last season of Stranger Things was captivating to watch, and instills confidence that the actor would no doubt be able to bring that same charm and levity to the role of Johnny Storm; making this casting choice an almost no-brainer the more you think about it. A less obvious choice is Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Ben Grimm, aka The Thing. Previously—and most memorably, because we don’t talk about the 2015 movie—played by Michael Chiklis in the 2005 adaptation, Moss-Bachrach isn’t the first name that comes to mind when thinking of the the iconic role, at least physically.

When murmurs of a reboot were trickling out in the wild, fans of the IP were quick to cast big, muscular bald men the likes of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and John Cena as the character. Moss-Bachrach is far from that archetype. Nevertheless, his abilities as an actor should be enough to nix any doubts. Though Moss-Bachrach has been acting for a couple decades, his rise to prominence came from his role as Richie on Hulu’s The Bear, for which he recently won an Emmy for, and deservedly so. I have no doubt of his talents as an actor, though am curious to see how he’ll fit in a role such as this.

Now we come to the actor who inspired this piece to begin with. An actor who I am personally a fan of, though one that I am hesitant to say is the “perfect” choice to play the lead character of Mr. Fantastic. Yet, the more I think about this “hesitancy,” the more I question it. I’m far from a Fantastic Four fan, but from everything that I’ve seen and read about Reed Richards, this is an older gentleman who puts brains before brawn. A scientist who got his powers in his mid-30s, and faced most of his adventures as the lead of the hero quartet during his early forties. Pascal turns 49 next month. Principal photography for the film is reportedly set to start this August. With Kevin Feige confirming that this film won’t be an origin story, it isn’t completely outrageous to see Pascal playing the character. Especially when considering that all of his limb-stretching abilities will be performed effectively by CGI. Sure he has a few extra years on him, which leads to questions about his longevity in the role, but Pascal has proven that he’s able to carry himself in the hero’s body. Doing so while always managing to bring a beautiful warmth to his performances. Performances that have not only made him a household name, but gotten him a number of nods from some of Hollywood’s most prestigious award shows.

Pedro Pascal in The Last of Us
Pedro Pascal as Joel in The Last of Us

Frankly, I think it’s this recent rise and somewhat “over-saturation” of the actor that has led to this conversation. Since his breakout role as Oberyn Martell in HBO’s Game of Thrones back in 2014, Pascal has been the face of a number of big-name shows. From Narcos, to The Mandalorian, to The Last of Us, it seems Hollywood has yet to get their fill of the Chilean actor. I’m not surprised at this reaction from fans, as such an omnipresence can lead to a bit of fatigue, irrespective of how much we like an actor. And like him we sure do. Nearly every Reddit thread, comment section, or online forum I’ve come across has had a similar sentiment. A sentiment that more-or-less reads, “I love Pedro Pascal, but I’m not sure about him as Mr. Fantastic.” Which is a perfectly fair sentiment to have, but when looking deeper into the role of Reed Richards and how Marvel are supposedly going to be tackling the film’s story and setting, it’s a sentiment that feels a tad misplaced.

Even a cursory look at some of the fan art of Pascal in the role should instil some confidence in fans that this may not be all that bad a casting choice. Sure, maybe the continuation of a (somewhat younger) John Krasinski—whom Marvel had casted in the role for a short stint in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness—would have been the more obvious choice, but the age gap between the two actors is negligible, and I’d argue that Pascal is a far superior actor who brings forth a depth and maturity that could benefit the character.

All of this is to say that although my initial reaction from seeing the casting of Pedro Pascal as Mr. Fantastic was similar to those of fans, I’ve come around to the choice. One can wonder whether the actor would be able to play the part for the coming years, but as of now that’s the least of my concerns. Where my hesitations of this reboot as a whole lay currently is within its writing and directing. It’s no secret that Marvel’s outing since Endgame have been (mostly) lacklustre, and the history of the Fantastic Four live-action films have not done justice to the iconic IP. The talent attached looks to be solid, but we’ll have to wait until next summer to see how this story unfolds.

Shaz Mohsin

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