The Long Road To A ‘Silver Surfer’ Solo Movie & Who Marvel Should Consider Casting For Their Reboot

It’s exciting that Marvel Studios has regained the film rights to Fantastic Four and Silver Silver, allowing them to finally use some of their most iconic and well-known characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe either in films or series airing on Disney+. Norrin Radd aka The Silver Surfer, the herald of Galactus, was co-created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. The Marvel Comics character first appeared in the pages of Fantastic Four in 1966. Arguably one of the more popular cosmic characters that had been introduced from that era of comics and appeared in a handful of animated projects. 

20th Century Fox attempted to develop a solo film in the 1990s and hired a large group of writers to tackle the script with various drafts. Those screenwriters working over the years included John Turman (Hulk, Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer), Richard Jefferies (TRON: Legacy, Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer), John Rice (Windtalkers, Blown Away), Rudy Gains (The Calling), Mike Finch (American Assassin, Predators, John Wick: Chapter 4, Hitman: Agent 47), John M. Bergmann, Bernd Eichinger (Downfall, Perfume: The Story of A Murderer, The Baader Meinhof Complex), and Andrew Kevin Walker (Se7en, The Wolfman, 8mm).

One of the big standouts was James Gunn (The Suicide Squad, Guardians of The Galaxy 1-3, Slither, Dawn of The Dead, Super), as the filmmaker revealed on Facebook that he was approached by the studio in 1999 to write an “extensive treatment” for Silver Surfer. 

GUNN: “When I first moved to LA in 1999, one of the first people I met on a meeting was an exec at Fox. He told me they wanted to make a Silver Surfer movie, and I might be right for that, so I wrote an extensive treatment. It was a huge story, cosmic as hell, and featured the Silver Surfer turning on Galactus (but no Fantastic Four – this was before the first FF film).”

Eventually, 20th Century Fox got their Silver Surfer project with Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer in 2007 with Doug Jones (Hellboy 1-2, The Shape of Water) playing the body and Laurence Fishburne (John Wick: Chapter 2, The Matrix Trilogy, Ant-Man & The Wasp) becoming Norrin Radd’s voice. 

There had been plans of giving Silver Surfer a spinoff after the Fantastic Four sequel and they hired writer J. Michael Straczynski to tackle it in 2007. The seasoned screenwriter’s credits include Babylon 5, Thor, Sense8, Underworld: Awakening, Ninja Assassin, World War Z, Changeling, The Real Ghostbusters, Captain Power, He-Man & The Masters of The Universe, and She-Ra: Princess of Power. 

Two years later, Straczynski mentioned in an interview that the sequel not meeting the studio’s expectations led Fox to question making a direct spinoff. 

STRACZYNSKI: “What happened was when FF2 didn’t do as well as they hoped it would do, it caused them to call into question a Silver Surfer movie. The script that I wrote picked up right where FF2 left off. So if they do a Silver Surfer film down the road, it’ll have to be its own separate [thing].”

Director Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City) debunked a rumor he was going to direct the movie while speaking at San Diego Comic-Con 2008 via Slash Film

PROYAS: “Unfortunately that is just a rumor. I don’t know where that came from. I do like Silver Surfer, but I’m not going to be doing it.”

In 2018, it was revealed by The Hollywood Reporter that comic book and television writer Brian K. Vaughn (The Great Machine, Y: The Last Man, Saga, Lost, M.A.S.K.) was developing a solo Silver Surfer movie before the merger with Disney in 2019 seemingly nixed those plans alongside a bulk of Marvel projects that Fox was developing at the time. 

Marvel Studios now has control of the character and announced a new Fantastic Four movie in December that will be directed by Jon Watts, who helmed their Spider-Man trilogy.  

Filmmaker Adam McKay (Vice, The Big Short, Ant-Man) stated he was interested in a Silver Surfer movie while speaking on the Happy Sad Confused podcast. In the chat, he cited The Wachowskis’ stylized Speed Racer movie as inspiration.

MCKAY: “Silver Surfer man, that’s the one I want to do. I would do anything to do Silver Surfer because visually….could do what the Wachowskis did with Speed Racer, with the Silver Surfer. At the same time, there’s a great emotional story in there man. Where a guy has to choose to save his planet. You know Norrin Radd has to save his planet…that, that would be the one.I think they’re kicking around a Nova idea.”

While speaking with MTV at the 2019 Gloden Globes, Adam suggested there was some “discussion” and Marvel’s Kevin Feige at the same event seemed open to the idea of meeting with him about the project. 

MCKAY: “(Laughs) There actually has been some discussion about Silver Surfer. My agent certainly woke up. They were excited. We’re in the middle of, you know, backing Vice right now, but, who knows, in a couple of months it could pop up. I really am excited by that idea. So, we’ll see what happens.”

FEIGE: “I’ve not gotten a call yet, but I’ve seen Adam tonight and at a number of these awards, he is as everyone knows an incredibly smart guy he’s an honest to goodness fan and you know did a lot of behind the scenes work on the first Ant-Man film and have you seen Vice? A little cameo, a little Galatcus cameo in there that we helped him get. So I look forward to speaking to him more.”

We still don’t know if Norinn Radd will be part of Marvel’s new Fantastic Four franchise (expected) or if Adam McKay will get to make his solo film as Marvel Studios hasn’t officially announced any plans concerning Silver Surfer. However, there are plenty of casting ideas making the rounds online and figured I’d mention the people I think would be a good fit in the role that would likely be a mix of live-action and motion-capture. 

LAKEITH STANFIELD (AGE 29): Get Out, Uncut Gems, Judas & The Black Messiah, Knives Out, Atlanta, The Girl In The Spider’s Web, War Machine, Dope, Short Term 12, and Straight Outta Compton. 

RYAN GOSLING (AGE 40): The Nice Guys, Blade Runner 2049, Drive, Only God Forgives, Half Nelson, Remember The Titans, The Place Beyond The Pines, First Man, La La Land, and The Gray Man. 

BRAD PITT (AGE 57): Fight Club, Snatch, Killing Them Softly, Inglourious Basterds, Se7en, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Moneyball, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Troy, Ocean’s Eleven, The Big Short, Interview With A Vampire, Fury, Legends of The Fall, True Romance, The Devil’s Own, and Bullet Train. 

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