Julia Garner Boards MCU's ‘Fantastic Four’ as the Silver Surfer


Julia Garner is moving from the Ozarks to outer space. The Emmy and Golden Globe winner will make her blockbuster debut in the MCU as the Silver Surfer in Matt Shakman’s The Fantastic Four, per a report yesterday evening.

Garner, who made a quietly devastating impact in her breakthrough role on The Americans before turning in a barn-burning performance on Ozark, was once earmarked to play the titular Material Girl in a (now-shelved) Madonna biopic for Universal. She joins a cast of similarly remarkable rising stars—the previously announced quartet of Pedro Pascal as Reed Richards, Vanessa Kirby as Sue Storm, Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Ben Grimm, and Joseph Quinn as Johnny Storm—in what looks to be a period piece set in the early 1960s. Critically, she’ll play the Shalla-Bal version of the character, a twist that's set off a few different alarm bells for comic book fans as to the direction of the film.

Shalla-Bal was introduced in Marvel's Silver Surfer comics in 1968; she was the Empress of the utopian planet Zenn-La and the romantic partner of the original Silver Surfer, Norrin Radd. Their lives were interrupted upon the arrival of Galactus, a massive cosmic entity that eats entire planets to survive. To spare Shalla-Bal and the rest of the denizens of Zenn-La, Norrin offers to become the chrome-clad Silver Surfer, aka the Herald of Galactus, and travel the universe at the speed of light on a surfbort-like device to determine which planets are worth consuming, sort of like a cosmic Yelp reviewer.

You may remember poor Norrin from 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, where he was physically embodied by prosthetic wunderkind Doug Jones and voiced by Laurence Fishburne. Long before that, his quasi-psychedelic space adventures made him every hippie's favorite Marvel character, and he's been a pop icon ever since. In a scene added to the screenplay of Tony Scott's 1995 film Crimson Tide by uncredited script doctor Quentin Tarantino, Denzel Washington chides a subordinate for getting into a squabble about whether the French artist Moebius' Surfer was better than Kirby's; Denzel then affirms that Kirby's was superior.

The Shalla-Bal version of the Surfer, designed by legendary artist Alex Ross, first appeared in the alternate-reality Marvel story Earth X, written by Jim Krueger with art by John Paul Leon. The Shalla-Bal Surfer serves as a second herald for Galactus alongside Norrin, allowing the two lovers to be together—albeit still forced to serve the World Eater.

The involvement of a Silver Surfer suggests that Shakman intends to really play up the cosmic elements of the Fantastic Four’s backstory, possibly by adapting the FF storyline known as the “Galactus Trilogy.” Published in March of 1966, just a few years after Shakman’s movie is rumored to take place, the story is understood to be the peak of writer Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s fertile creative relationship, a universally beloved FF arc bolstered by some classically otherworldly Kirby visuals. It also means we're likely to see a formal casting announcement for Galactus himself sooner rather than later, fueling rumors that the role will be played by either Antonio Banderas or Javier Bardem.

With the Surfer and Galactus in play, the likelihood of Doctor Doom showing up in a major role decreases significantly, but that doesn’t mean he won't show up in a post-credits sequence or elsewhere. It may also mean that The Fantastic Four could occur in an alternate reality, playing up the Multiversal shenanigans of this second MCU Saga. (Teaser art released today for 4-4 Day—get it?—shows Johnny Storm flying around a New York that doesn’t look a lot like the traditional MCU NYC.) A planet-eating force showing up on Earth’s doorstep in the '60s feels something people in the present-day MCU would remember, so setting the film’s events in a different reality might be a way to avoid complicating the established MCU timeline. We just have one request: Can Garner bring along her Ozark accent for the role?

Originally Appeared on GQ