On the heels of The Marvels’ disastrous opening weekend—the lowest ever for Marvel at $46 million—Marvel Studios is forging ahead, making moves and deals to set up the next few years of storytelling in the MCU. The latest headline news is that Pedro Pascal is in talks to play Reed Richards in Fantastic Four, to be directed by WandaVision’s (and It’s Always Sunny’s) Matt Shakman. The role of the super-stretchy Fantastic patriarch has previously been played by Ioan Gruffudd, Miles Teller, and John Krasinski, in a cameo nodding at online fans’ desire for him to play Reed, and for his real wife, Emily Blunt, to play his fake wife, Sue Storm. Pedro Pascal is a way more interesting choice to play Reed Richards than John Krasinski, argue with a wall.
Of course, it’s all highly dependent on Pascal’s schedule. The man is capital-B Busy, with season two of The Last Of Us to film, as well as feature films Gladiator 2 (expected to resume filming before the end of the year), and Weapons, a film from Zach Cregger, a member of comedy troupe The Whitest Kids U’ Know and the filmmaker behind horror breakout Barbarian. As for The Mandalorian, there is a rumor floating that Pascal won’t be in season four, but given the nature of the character, who rarely removes his full-face covering helmet, he has the option of performing as primarily a voice actor and doing very little on-set physical performance (as he did for season three). Given that flexibility, he should be able to make it work. Or they could just make season four about Bo-Katan, who knows.
Deadline does note the deal is “far from done”, but also quotes unnamed sources who say the negotiations are “headed in the right direction” to fit Fantastic Four into Pascal’s super busy schedule. As for the rest of the F4, they’re apparently waiting to get Reed sorted before filling in the ensemble around him.
It's been a busy week for Marvel, though, as Destin Daniel Cretton, director of Shang-Chi, has left Avengers: Kang Dynasty. Cretton is still in the family, so to speak, as he is showrunning Wonder Man, which had to shut down production for the strikes, but is expected to get back in front of cameras after US Thanksgiving. He is also working on a sequel to Shang-Chi, which makes me think there is no trouble between Cretton and Marvel, but that Marvel is probably tanking Kang the Conqueror, given Jonathan Majors’ ongoing legal issues stemming from a domestic violence arrest, as well as abundant proof that audiences don’t care about the multiverse and Majors is not the value add everyone thought he would be to the MCU (his performance in Loki is legit awful).
According to Joanna Robinson, pop culture expert and co-author of MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios, screenwriter Jeff Loveness was also removed from the project, because they’re dumping the Kang storyline, and thus, Majors (per the House of R podcast). If you’ve seen the finale of Loki season two, you know Marvel is now in a perfect place to wipe the whole stupid multiverse story clean and either move on entirely or cast someone else as Kang and just call it a variant.
So, despite increasingly rocky critical and audience receptions, and diminishing box office, Marvel continues moving forward with plans that will carry us into 2027. I truly believe it will only take one good project for Marvel to rebound, but at the same time, 2027 sounds like a fake year and I bet pop culture is centered on something completely different by then, regardless of whatever Marvel is doing.