The Human Torch, also known as Johnny Storm, is one of the four members of the legendary comic book quartet Fantastic Four. Based on a similar character from the 1940’s, the Human Torch can burst into flame and fly. He’s essentially a living, cognizant fireball.
And at some point in time, he and the Fantastic Four will make their debut into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Why haven’t they appeared there before? Well, the short answer is that the rights to many Marvel characters were distributed to different movie studios, who would eventually retain those rights once films based on those characters started making big bucks. Sony, for example, owns the movie rights to not only Spider-Man, but all of the characters associated with the Spider-Man universe (such as Venom, the Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, all of them). Universal owns the rights to the Incredible Hulk, and 20th Century Fox controlled the movie rights to both the Fantastic Four and the X-Men (and with the X-Men, associated characters such as Deadpool).
But when Disney – who through Marvel Studios owned the movie rights to the bulk of remaining Marvel characters – purchased 20th Century Fox, that meant they could now bring in the Fantastic Four and the X-Men characters into their Marvel Cinematic Universe. Trust me, Thanos would have been taken out in three minutes had he faced Wolverine. Reed Richards could have dispatched Ultron in nothing flat. And a Guardians of the Galaxy movie with Ben Grimm, the Thing? Yeah, I’m good with that for sure.
But see, here’s the thing. The character of the Human Torch has been the springboard for not one, not two, but THREE different actors to play both the “Flame On!” superhero AND another character in the true Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I shall explain.
Take a look, for example, at this trailer for the 2005 Fantastic Four movie. See if you recognize the guy playing the Human Torch.
That’s Chris Evans. Chris Evans, as in Captain America Chris Evans.
Okay. Example #2. In 2015, 20th Century Fox released a new Fantastic Four movie, with an all-new cast. To say that this film essentially torpedoed the FF movie franchise is, well, an understatement. But take a look at who’s in the Human Torch character this time.
You might have spotted him – that’s Michael B. Jordan, who would later stand out as Erik Killmonger in the Black Panther movie.
Now I mentioned there were three examples of actors who played the Human Torch who would later appear in Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.
See, yesterday, according to this link, actor Bill Murray confirmed he would appear as a major character in the upcoming Marvel film Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. And you’re scratching your head and saying to me, “Chuck, I don’t remember Bill Murray in ANY Fantastic Four movie.”
Ah, but true believer, you must go all the way back to 1975 for this.
See, in 1975, there was a syndicated Fantastic Four radio drama series, it lasted about 13 weeks, and took its stories directly from the early Fantastic Four comic books. Stan Lee even narrated the episodes, so there’s that connection.
And take a listen to who’s playing the Human Torch in these radio dramas.
Yep, that’s the future star of Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters, Lost in Translation and Garfield, voicing Johnny Storm. So there you have it. Three for three.
Now, can we hurry up and get the Fantastic Four cinematic universe integrated into the MCU? Have the Avengers fight Doctor Doom, for example? Bring in the Silver Surfer and Galactus and the Negative Zone and the Mole Man and the Impossible Man and all the rest?
Now all we need to do after this is get Nicholas Cage to bring in his Ghost Rider character, and maybe even find a way to pull in Namor, the Sub-Mariner from whatever cinematic universe that possesses his movie rights…
Yeah, I’m good with all that. 😀