Fantastic Father: Pedro Pascal’s Reed Richards Casting Suggests Franklin and Valeria Are Coming To the MCU Sooner Than Expected

Last week, fans finally got a long-awaited glimpse into the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s plans for the Fantastic Four, when the story broke that Pedro Pascal, he of The Mandalorian, The Last of Us, and countless “Daddy” memes, was cast as Reed Richards, the patriarch of Marvel’s First Family. And of course, that set the social media sphere aflame. But one aspect of the casting has been underexplored. At 48 years of age, Pascal won’t exactly be a spring chicken when Fantastic Four debuts on the big screen. And what that likely means is that a heretofore never explored aspect of Mister Fantastic in live-action is likely to be explored here: Reed Richards, father.

Based on Pascal’s age, a story based around the F4’s origin seems unlikely. Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny will probably be established heroes, and therefore it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that alongside the core Four, we will be introduced to Reed and Sue’s children, Franklin and Valeria Richards. In fact, it’s quite plausible that they’ll be teenagers, rather than toddlers.

This is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, as a franchise that debuted in 2008, the MCU is getting a bit long in the tooth, as the Gen Xers and Millennials who were part of what made the MCU a phenomenon are aging into the phases of their lives when they’re no longer dictating what’s cool. And while Marvel has seeded their universe with Young Avengers in order to hopefully connect with Zoomers on their level, the Fantastic Four is a throwback. You couldn’t get more Boomer. So who better to provide the eyes through which we meet them, if not their children? Yes, the F4 are a little bit (or even a lotta bit) uncool to modern audiences, but there can be something charming about Mom and Dad not being cool.

As stated earlier, the Fantastic Four feel like quaint throwbacks to a bygone era, and it’s for that reason that so many imagined Fantastic Four as a 60s period piece. But Franklin and Valeria are different; they’re not stuck in the amber of any previous generation’s aesthetic. They, more than the others, can bring a Modern Family element to a Father Knows Best dynamic. And it’s because they can look at their parents and uncles — who they love — and tell them that they’re a thousand years old and completely out of touch. Ironically, that kind of Gen Z gaze is how you make the F4 resonant to modern audiences, relatable both to the kids who see their parents in them, and the Gen Xers/Millennials, who see themselves in the context of their own relationships with their kids.

Which brings us back to Reed. There’s a certain amount of inherent unlikeability to being the smartest man in the world. It was always going to be necessary to smooth Reed’s edges a little bit, and get people to root for him and Sue to make things work. Casting the eminently charming Pedro Pascal helps. He’s already shown an ability to project fatherly qualities, even when his characters are supposedly loners. And when the MCU introduces us to Franklin and Valeria Richards, Pascal will be able to showcase that side of Mister Fantastic and enhance the Fantastic Four’s position as the First Family of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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