Stitcher and Marvel announced their latest 10-episode podcast drama, an adaptation of the four-issue Marvels comic book series, by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross. While the biggest headline is the casting of Method Man as Ben Urich, the choice of actor to portray Reed Richards, aka Mister Fantastic, is even more intriguing: Ethan Peck.
As the grandson of Hollywood legend Gregory Peck, he's already forged his own path in the entertainment industry, with his highest-profile role being that of Spock in Star Trek: Discovery. Peck follows in the footsteps of Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto as the beloved half-human, half-Vulcan.
Make no mistake, though, it was a risky part to take as it could've derailed his entire career. Fandoms are not renowned for being receptive to changes or new actors playing seminal characters. So, the fact that Peck's performance as Spock has been so positively received is testament to his ability to re-energize and reinvigorate the character for different generations of fans.
Hopefully, he'll bring a similar energy to his portrayal of Mister Fantastic in Marvels, but why not beyond that?
It's no secret that the Fantastic Four are coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe; of course, whether it will be in Phase 4 or Phase 5, only Marvel Studios knows for sure. As such, there will be a need to cast Marvel's First Family in the MCU as it's highly unlikely that the actors who last played the characters in Josh Trank's maligned Fantastic Four will return.
For the part of Mister Fantastic, numerous fan castings have suggested the likes of John Krasinski, Andrew Lincoln and Ewan McGregor as being solid choices. They are powerhouses and household names, but the MCU hasn't always had the need to cast obvious choices in its films. Remember how no one knew much about Chris Hemsworth before he was cast as Thor?
Considering that Peck is portraying an immensely popular, super-smart scientist in one of the most beloved franchises on Earth, it makes complete sense to allow him to do the same in the MCU. As proven already, he has the necessary charisma, look and range to pull off a role as important and cherished as Mister Fantastic.
At the age of 33, Peck is not too old or too young to portray the character. He's the right age for all the best Fantastic Four stories -- whether it be right at the beginning or the later years with Franklin and Valeria Richards -- with room for him to be an essential part of the MCU for years to come.
There's also another thing that Peck has in his favor: while he's far from a no-name beginner, he isn't an A-lister with agents flooding his house with scripts and roles. If Marvel Studios is smart, it'll sign him up for a multiple-picture deal before his availability and price go through the roof. It's time to strike while the iron is hot, or he could be picked up by a rival studio for another role.
Peck has made no secret about his desire to play comic book characters in the past, even revealing to Entertainment Tonight in 2016: "[I'm] just trying to play Batman in the next five years." While it's unlikely that he'll realize that dream, with Robert Pattinson beating him to the cape and cowl, Peck is certain to have many suitors imagining him as other superheroes down the line.
Overall, Peck's performance in the Marvels podcast series could make or break his future in a live-action superhero role. If his performance is outstanding, it's likely that many fans would back him to become the MCU's Mister Fantastic (much like they've done with Supernatural's Jensen Ackles and the Red Hood since Batman: Under the Red Hood). If not… well, you know the rest. Time will tell, but at least the MCU has one good option right now.