Exclusive: Fantastic Four Movie Considering Gender Swap

Who will it be?

By Michileen Martin | Published

fantastic four gender

With Marvel’s First Family under Disney’s banner, the fourth live-action Fantastic Four film is finally on the way. The return hasn’t been without its bumps in the road and with a firm release date yet to be announced, there’s sure to be even more obstacles, but that hasn’t stopped the Powers That Be at Marvel Studios from considering a relatively radical change to the team. According to Giant Freakin Robot’s trusted and proven source, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s architects are seriously considering taking one of the members of the Fantastic Four and swapping their gender.

Which character are they considering gender-swapping? Apparently, Marvel hasn’t landed on a specific hero yet, but instead are overall considering the goal of evening up the numbers — making the team have an equal amount of men and women. In the traditional line-up of the Fantastic Four, Sue Storm — played by Jessica Alba in the first two films and Kate Mara in the 2015 critical and commercial disaster — is the only female member of the team. Occasionally other female heroes like She-Hulk, Crystal, and Medusa have enjoyed stints in the group, but for the most part Fantastic Four line-ups have very uneven gender ratios.

If Fantastic Four does include a gender swap of one of its heroes, the safe money is that Marvel will choose the Human Torch — played by Chris Evans and Michael B. Jordan in previous films — as the character to be portrayed by a woman. This is pure speculation, but it makes sense. First, Ben Grimm aka the Thing is one of Marvel’s most iconic characters, and undoubtedly the single most popular hero in the quartet, rendering him the riskiest choice. Second — assuming Marvel plans to make Reed and Sue an item as they are in the comics — gender-swapping Reed would be the most politically volatile choice. Third and finally, in the comics Johnny Storm is often portrayed as a “ladies’ man,” which is a character type that — in light of the current social climate — Marvel might be looking to jettison for the reboot.

On the other hand, unlike the Human Torch, there is already source material for a Fantastic Four member who is essentially a gender swapped version of the Thing. Once known as Ms. Marvel, the character Sharon Ventura was eventually transformed into She-Thing and continued for a time as a member of the FF. But having an MCU without a Ben Grimm would feel close to criminal.

She-Thing and Thing in Fantastic Four #312, Marvel Comics 1988

Of course, if Marvel Studios chooses to make Fantastic Four without gender swapping one of its heroes, there’s always another option. As mentioned earlier, superheroes outside the original quartet have occasionally filtered in and out of the team. One brief, bizarre, but wildly popular version of the team was made up of the Hulk, Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, and Wolverine. But out of all the non-original members, few have had the staying power of She-Hulk. In 1984’s Fantastic Four #265, readers found out She-Hulk had left the Avengers to replace the Thing on the Fantastic Four, while the latter took a bit of an otherworldly sabbatical. So, perhaps rather than gender-swapping one of the FF, instead She-Hulk or another pre-existing female character could join the roster and even up the numbers that way.

Whatever Marvel chooses to do, we’ll hopefully know sooner rather than later. The latest big news about the upcoming reboot is that Spider-Man: No Way Home director Jon Watts was exiting the project because he needed some time off from the superhero genre. Maybe around the same time a new director is tapped, we’ll learn where the studio falls on the Fantastic Four gender swap question.