Summary

  • Ebon Moss-Bachrach breaks a casting trend for Ben Grimm and becomes the first Jewish actor to play The Thing in a live-action Fantastic Four adaptation.
  • The Thing’s Jewish background is an important aspect of his character, and his casting suggests that the film will take it seriously.
  • The MCU needs proper Jewish representation and should cast Jewish performers for characters like Kitty Pryde and Magneto, who have significant Jewish identities in the comics.



SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

The cast of Marvel’s Fantastic Four has finally been announced for the MCU, and with it comes the end of a casting trend for one member of Marvel’s first family. Although the Fantastic Four is arguably the property that jumpstarted Marvel’s popularity in the early 1960s, the iconic superhero team has struggled in the realm of live-action films, as previous attempts to adapt the Fantastic Four to film were received poorly among viewers and critics. Once Marvel Studios acquired their film right, however, the Fantastic Four could finally join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and with that, has come high hopes from viewers.


The MCU’s Fantastic Four was announced in 2019, but the cast was finally revealed on February 14th, 2024. In addition to listing the cast members for the titular team, Marvel’s announcement also reveals several fascinating details about the movie and its place in the MCU timeline. Fantastic Four appears to be set in the 1960s and will include the cinematic debut of H.E.R.B.I.E., a robot who initially took The Human Torch’s place on the team in The New Fantastic Four animated series. The Thing, also known as Ben Grimm, will be played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach, breaking a years-long casting trend for the character.

Related

10 Biggest Reveals Hidden In The Fantastic Four Movie Announcement

Marvel Studios have suddenly dropped plenty of details about upcoming The Fantastic Four movie via a piece of holiday-themed art posted on Twitter.


Ben Grimm Has Not Been Played By A Jewish Actor Before


Actors Who Have Played Ben Grimm In Live-Action

Actor

First Movie

Michael Chiklis

Fantastic Four (2005)

Jamie Bell

Fantastic Four (2015)

Ebon Moss-Bachrach

The Fantastic Four (2025)

Despite being one of Marvel’s few Jewish superheroes (and certainly one of their most iconic), Ben Grimm has not been played by a Jewish actor before. Ebon Moss-Bachrach will be the first Jewish actor to play The Thing in a live-action Fantastic Four adaptation, perhaps coincidentally after having portrayed another Jewish hero in the MCU: Micro (David Lieberman) in The Punisher. Not only will Ebon Moss-Bachrach’s casting improve the MCU’s Jewish representation, but it also implies that Fantastic Four will acknowledge an important part of Ben Grimm’s background.


Why The Thing’s Jewish Background Is Important For The Character

The Thing has always been heavily coded as a Jewish character, having been based on co-creator Jack Kirby. Once Grimm’s Levantine ethnic heritage was acknowledged in the early 2000s, it became a prominent element of his character. Similar to the way that Jack Kirby changed his name from Jacob Kurtzberg to avoid discrimination in a publishing industry that often excluded Jewish writers and artists, The Thing initially hid his ethnic and religious background. Grimm, while proud of his Jewish identity, saw himself as a monster and hoped to avoid leading people to see all Jewish people as monsters like him.


Ben Grimm also hails from New York’s Lower East Side, a neighborhood with a historically large Jewish population that is considered one of New York’s centers of Jewish culture. The Thing’s size, considerable super strength, and rock-like appearance have also led readers to draw comparisons between him and the Golem of Jewish folklore. While the MCU’s Fantastic Four film will no doubt have a stronger focus on science fiction adventures and Marvel Comics lore than Ben Grimm’s ethnic background, his casting indicates that the film may be taking this famous aspect of character seriously.

The MCU Sorely Needs Proper Jewish Representation


The casting of Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Ben Grimm is a welcome new development for the MCU, considering its less-than-ideal history with Jewish representation. While the MCU has overall done admirable work in making its pantheon of superheroes diverse and inclusive, Jewish characters consistently have their identities erased, at times quite problematically so. Notably, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, who are Jewish and Romani in the comics, had their ethnic identities whitewashed in Avengers: Age of Ultron (though Pietro is played by a Jewish actor in his single appearance) and are rewritten as brief members of Hydra, a nazi-affiliated terrorist group.

Marvel’s Moon Knight TV series, whose titular character is one of the few prominent Jewish superheroes in Marvel’s comics, lacks Jewish cast members and showrunners and erases much of Marc Spector’s ethnic and religious background from the comics. In the comics, Marc dealt with antisemitism throughout his upbringing and developed two of his alternate personalities after discovering that a member of his community was a murderous former nazi and evading him. The MCU’s Moon Knight eschewed the dramatic potential in Marc’s backstory in favor of shallow acknowledgments of his ethnic and religious background.


Fantastic Four 2025 Valentines Day Poster Featuring Pedro Pascal, Vanessa Kirby, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, and Joseph Quinn

Marvel’s Fantastic Four

Release Date
July 25, 2025

Director
Matt Shakman

Cast
Pedro Pascal , Vanessa Kirby , Ebon Moss-Bachrach , Joseph Quinn

Writers
Josh Friedman , Jeff Kaplan , Ian Springer

Despite Moon Knight’s blunders, the MCU may be moving towards improving its Jewish representation with two recent castings. In addition to having Moss-Bachrach play Ben Grimm, the forthcoming Captain America: Brave New World will feature Shira Haas as the Israeli superheroine Sabra. However, Sabra may be substantially reimagined for the MCU and the significance of her role in Brave New World is unknown.

In addition to Marvel’s Fantastic Four, the MCU will also eventually introduce its iteration of the X-Men, which will likely include Kitty Pryde and Magneto. Magneto is a Holocaust survivor who, according to writer Chris Claremont, is ideologically based on Menachem Begin (just as Charles Xavier is based on David Ben-Gurion). Kitty Pryde’s Jewish ethnic background is also important to her character, with Pryde comparing real-world modern antisemitism to the Marvel universe’s anti-mutant discrimination. For these reasons, it is crucial for the MCU to cast Jewish performers as both Kitty Pryde and Magneto and tastefully depict their respective Jewish identities.


Key Release Dates

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *