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Why doesn’t Emily Blunt want to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Sue Storm, AKA Invisible Woman and a powerful, leading member of the Fantastic Four? We might point to the execrable nature of every single previous big screen adaptation featuring the awesome foursome, but Marvel Studios were not in charge of those movies and have proved themselves more than capable of successfully bringing other superhero ex-pats (such as Spider-Man and the Hulk) back into the fold in recent times.
Could it be that the English actor feels such a far-out and fluffy fantasy role would be beneath her? That seems unlikely, given she has starred as Mary Poppins for Marvel owner Disney, as well as in misfiring 2016 swords-and-sorcery The Huntsman: Winter’s War.
According to Blunt herself, she’s not even been approached for the role, despite rumours that she and actor husband John Krasinski are in line to portray Storm and husband Reed Richards (Mister Fantastic). But in an interview with Howard Stern this week, the actor also made it clear that she has never been particularly enthusiastic about superhero movies, having previously turned down the role of Black Widow.
“It’s not that it’s beneath me. I loved Iron Man, and I wanted to work with Robert Downey Jr,” she told the radio host. “It would have been amazing, but I don’t know if superheroes are for me. They’re not up my alley. I think it’s been exhausted. We are inundated. It’s not that it’s only the movies, it’s all the TV shows as well.”
Blunt added: “And it’s not to say that I would never want to play one. It would just have to be something so cool … and then I would be interested. In general, I don’t race to see superhero movies. They leave me feeling a little bit cold. I can’t explain it. I can’t get in there.”
That Blunt isn’t keen on joining the MCU, while peers of the calibre of Samuel L Jackson, Brie Larson, Downey Jr and Mark Ruffalo have all signed up might raise some eyebrows. Moreover, Marvel’s recent ventures on to the small screen suggest the superhero genre has much to offer the episodic format. Loki, the latest show about to hit Disney+, released its first trailer this week and already looks more than a match for the brain-bending Wandavision and daring, incisively topical Falcon and the Winter Soldier, with Tom Hiddleston clearly embracing the opportunity to go full god of mischief. If anything, Disney+ has extended the shelf-life of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, rather than signalling its impending demise as a result of superhero overload.
Hell, even DC is making some decent films these days, albeit at the second attempt. If there was ever a nasty whiff of naffness around comic-book movies – the air of cheeseball inelegance that gave Michael Keaton’s Riggan Thomson the shivers in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman – it has very much disappeared in the wake of Marvel’s remarkable critical success over the last 13 years. Blunt finds herself almost the last (wo)man standing when it comes to Hollywood’s A-list, though it’s still hard to imagine – say – Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt or Meryl Streep pulling on the spandex.
What’s strange about Blunt’s comments is that she was recently reported to have signed up to a husband and wife superhero flick titled “Ball and Chain”, opposite her Jungle Cruise co-star Dwayne Johnson. Perhaps it’s just Marvel movies she’s not a fan of?
The more intriguing question here might be to ask whether Blunt is really the right choice for the role of Storm. There’s no doubt that bringing in an actor of the Bafta-nominee’s fame and stature would help fans take the Invisible Woman seriously as an MCU mainstay, something that hasn’t always been achieved by her comic-book equivalent. Moreover, the 38-year-old Blunt is easily capable of pulling off the role. Yet Marvel would be forced to cast the Fantastic Four as a quartet in their late 30s and early 40s, and then find some way to explain why nobody noticed they had been hanging round the MCU for more than a decade without anyone ever mentioning them.
There’s an obvious workaround here, in that the studio is currently teasing the idea of introducing alternate realities into its movies: the new Fantastic Four might have been fighting supervillains on an alternate version of Earth that somehow spins into the one we’ve all been following since 2008 (perhaps via the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel).
But one suspects the studio is probably lining up this framework to introduce the X-Men when they finally make their inevitable debut in the MCU following Disney’s 2019 takeover of 20th Century Fox. After all, nobody ever mentioned Wolverine, Deadpool or their scores of mutant pals in previous Marvel flicks either.
There must be a large sign in the studio writers’ room that creatives touch with tears of gratitude in their eyes every time they enter, like footballers about to set foot in Liverpool’s famous Anfield stadium. It reads: “Thank heavens for the Multiverse.” If Blunt does ever decide to embrace the superhero revolution, she’ll probably find herself touching it – perhaps a little grudgingly – too.