WHO? In the comic books, the Invisible Girl (a.k.a. Sue Richards) is the wife of team leader Mr. Fantastic, and the wise, steady matriarch of the Fantastic Four clan. Along with the rest of the team, she got her powers after an ill-fated trip into space showered the foursome with ”cosmic rays.” That origin seemed logical enough in 1961, but expect it to be updated: One possibility is contained in the new ”Ultimate Fantastic Four” series, which has the team get its powers in a disastrous teleportation experiment.
SUPERPOWERS Duh. Sue’s able to turn herself transparent, making her as hard to find as good reviews for ”The Hulk.” But she can also project invisible force beams, so look for Alba to spend much of the film perfecting an ”I’m using my powers” squint, à la Famke Janssen in ”X-Men.”
RIGHT FOR THE ROLE? Twenty-three-year-old Alba looks little like the comic book character, who’s a blonde soccer mom. But her fetching screen presence and familiarity with comic-book-style action (she WAS Dark Angel!) should overcome any doubts.
WHO? Mr. Fantastic, a.k.a. Reed Richards, is the team’s fearless leader — and perhaps the most brilliant scientist on earth. He’s constantly inventing stuff: a machine that shrinks people to the size of microbes; gateways to other dimensions; flying cars; and, um, the lousy spaceship that exposed the team to those pesky cosmic rays.
SUPERPOWERS Reed could have been called Mr. Silly Putty: He’s capable of stretching his limbs vast distances, and radically reshaping his skinny bod. (He’s been known to roll himself into a ball and bounce up at enemies.) No word on what happens if you press him against newsprint.
RIGHT FOR THE ROLE? British thespian Gruffudd (”King Arthur”) will have to ditch his accent to play this all-American superhero. But the slim-faced charmer has the right look for the part, and judging from his dashing Sir Lancelot in ”Arthur,” he should have no problems wooing Alba’s Sue — if he can find her.
The Human Torch
WHO? The Human Torch (born Johnny Storm) is Sue’s baby brother and the youngest member of the team. Think of him as the Justin Timberlake of superheroes — he’s literally a Tiger Beat pinup, followed wherever he goes by squealing teenage girls.
SUPERPOWERS As his nom du superhero and famous battle cry (”Flame on!”) suggest, Johnny can transform himself into a human-shaped ball of flame. All that heat has scorched parents’ groups, who feared young imitators armed with matches: In fact, Johnny was cut from a 1970s cartoon version of ”FF” in favor of a cute robot named Herbie.
RIGHT FOR THE ROLE? Relative unknown Evans has shown he can do young, cute, and cocky in such teen movies as ”The Perfect Score.” But a more famous face (Chad Michael Murray, perhaps?) might have better suited a character who’s supposed to set hearts aflame.
WHO? Benjamin Grimm, a gruff, burly former football player, was Reed’s college roommate and best friend. But when he went along on that fateful spaceship ride, he was the only one of the foursome to become permanently disfigured. Ben is a walking pile of orange rocks, unable to change back into human form. And the one thing Mr. Fantastic hasn’t been able to invent is a cure for The Thing’s condition.
SUPERPOWERS Despite his tragic appearance, it’s good to be The Thing — he’s one of Marvel’s strongest characters, capable of lifting more than 85 tons. With his impervious hide and rocky fists, he’s good in a fight, too. Hence his catchphrase: ”It’s clobbering time!”
RIGHT FOR THE ROLE? For sure. As a tough, conflicted cop on ”The Shield,” Golden Globe winner Chiklis has demonstrated the emotional heft needed to play the tormented but good-natured Thing. Plus, he has the right build — just add rocks.
WHO? One of the Fantastic Four’s most venerable enemies (he made his first appearance in Issue No. 5), Victor Von Doom is a brilliant scientist whose rivalry with Reed Richards and Ben Grimm goes back to their college days together at Empire State University. After being disfigured in a lab accident, Von Doom wandered the earth a pariah and wound up in Tibet, where monks built him the Darth Vader-like mask and suit of armor he’s lived behind ever since. He returned to his Eastern European homeland of Latveria and declared himself king, literally ruling with an iron fist. He frequently visits America (where he has diplomatic immunity) to take on the Fantastic Four while plotting world domination.
SUPERPOWERS Dr. Doom’s powers come from his custom-made armor — he can lift 2 tons, protect himself with a force field, and blast targets with powerful energy beams he shoots from his fists. Mystical knowledge acquired in Tibet allows him to enter the minds of others. Also, he has an arsenal of weapons at his disposal, and he’s wicked smart.
RIGHT FOR THE ROLE? As hotshot plastic surgeon Christian Troy on FX’s ”Nip/Tuck,” McMahon knows from disfigurement, and he certainly has experience playing a doctor with a huge ego. But will he be able to muster enough charisma — especially from behind the mask — to make it as a big-screen supervillain, or will his fight against fellow F/X leading man Michael Chiklis come off as a battle of the basic-cable stars?