Captain America is the leader of the Avengers. Professor Charles Xavier leads the X-Men. And in most versions, brilliant scientist Reed Richards is the leader of the Fantastic Four, though that is not how Miles Teller chooses to portray him in the most-recent Fantastic Four film.
This story contains very mild spoilers for Fantastic Four, so click away to another of our wonderful stories if you do not want to know anything about the movie before it opens.
I had a chance to sit down with Miles Teller and the cast of Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four in New York City recently, and one aspect of the film that I wanted to discuss is Reed Richards’ lack of leadership qualities. This is an origin story, and for the duration of the film, the brainy (and stretchy) hero comes off as introverted and meek. It’s only when his friends are harmed that he rises up to the challenge and displays true leadership qualities that we associate with a Marvel icon. Miles Teller told me that was intentional, explaining:
At the beginning of the movie, Reed is not a leader at all. … Then the accident happens. When things are kind of going awry, he leaves. He doesn’t necessarily know how to come back, to say he’s sorry. He doesn’t know what to do. It freaks him out. … [But] I think it gets to a point where Reed kind of says, ‘No more running.’ And I think just from feeling so responsible for the situation that put [his team] in that, he feels the need to step up in, I guess, the third act or during that final battle. There’s a moment where he kind of – people gather, and it’s Reed who is kind of speaking up."
So in this particular interpretation of the Fantastic Four story, it’s not just an origin for the team, it’s an origin for their eventual leader. The Reed Richards who holds down the fort in Josh Trank’s adaptation isn’t a born leader, like Steve Rogers. He’s a quiet and unassuming inventor who is thrust into a position of leadership when the tables are turned against his eventual teammates, and it’s up to him to solve the problems that face the Fantastic Four, both now and in the future.
Miles Teller’s co-star, Jamie Bell, added another historical comparison for Reed Richards as a team leader, helping to explain why he wouldn’t necessarily emerge as a given champion right away. I kept his answer at the end of Miles Teller’s explanation, so you can watch both of them below:
Fantastic Four is a true origin of Marvel’s "First Family." It opens in theaters on August 7.