The ink may not quite be dry just yet, but it's looking a lot like Marvel Studios has found its Reed Richards in fan favorite actor Pedro Pascal. The role of Richards, also known as Mister Fantastic, leader of the Fantastic Four, has been one of the hottest uncast roles in the MCU pretty much since the FF reboot movie was officially announced.
And if you ask me, Pedro Pascal is the perfect choice to take the role.
I've been a little bit surprised by the somewhat polarized reaction to the choice both from Pascal's fans and fans of the Fantastic Four. To me, the choice has seemed like a clear winner from the moment reports started surfacing that a deal is on the horizon.
Maybe I'm the exact right mix of Pedro Pascal mark and Fantastic Four enjoyer, because everything from Pascal's salt-and-pepper-y hair to his ability to deftly straddle the line between beloved human teddy bear and no nonsense ass-kicker seems perfect for capturing the nuance of Reed Richards, one of the most misunderstood characters in the Marvel Universe.
Reed's pop culture reputation, even beyond his home territory of comic books, is that of an arrogant A-hole who would rather poke at the boundaries of science than pay attention to his family. But that's a reductive (and frankly inaccurate) portrayal of who Reed Richards really is, and why he's one of Marvel's most intriguing and often inscrutable characters.
Reed Richards occupies a unique place in the Marvel Universe. He's often portrayed simultaneously as one of Marvel's most and least responsible heroes. He almost never falls prey to the everyday foibles that sometimes bedevil heroes like Iron Man and Spider-Man. He's able to have and keep a family while maintaining a stable home life that balances his superhero responsibilities. Ever the elder statesman of the Marvel Universe, he's almost always the voice of calm reason in any situation.
At the same time, however, he's perfectly willing to build and test any kind of machine he wants, even ones that are capable of ripping holes in the fabric of reality. And his idea of a fun family trip usually involves trundling his kids into space suits and bringing them around supervillains and unexplained cosmic phenomena.
It's that balance of kind, fatherly wisdom and hidden, madcap willingness to cross any boundary of science that makes Reed who he is - someone whose mind is always stretching in as many directions as his body.
He's old enough to see Peter Parker as something like a nephew, and carries enough gravitas to hold a room the same way Steve Rogers can. But he's also prone to being coldly curt, and speaking over people while he's thinking ten steps ahead of the conversation they're having.
And that's what I think Pedro Pascal can embody perfectly in his performance - the strange duality of Reed Richards, able to casually and even coldly outthink a nemesis as cunning and brilliant as Doctor Doom, while still holding onto the warmth of an all around father figure for the Marvel Universe. Pascal has the skill to balance the science-first distance behind Reed's eyes with his ability to stay grounded squarely among his family.
We've seen Pascal embody a different kind of adventuring fatherhood in The Mandalorian and The Last of Us, both of which revolve around different versions of reluctant father figures coming to terms with how children change their lives.
Seeing him as a father who is much farther along in that process but who is still working on finding a way to stay true to himself, his desires, and beliefs while accounting for his responsibility to others feels like an evolution of the niche he's been carving for himself of late.
Plus, there's something to be said for just how much bigger a tentpole Marvel Studios movie is in scope than even a Star Wars streaming series, which speaks to Pascal's ability to step into the leading man role of a massive franchise and make it totally his.
If there's anyone in Hollywood today who has just the right amount of twinkle in his eye to go with the tinge of gray in his hair and the exact right ability to come off as stern without straying too far into menacing, it's Pascal. And that's why he's the perfect choice to play Reed Richards - because he's got the pitch-perfect mixture of charm, daring, ego, and wisdom to play someone who could go anywhere in all reality but still chooses to be with his family.
Plus, he's gonna look damn good in that blue and black Fantastic Four bodysuit.
The MCU Fantastic Four reboot needs to nail these five things to be perfect.