SAG Strike Shuts Down Marvel's Fantastic Four Cast Search

Strike on! The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strike is officially underway as of midnight July 14th, with the work stoppage shutting down Hollywood's film and television productions. In a bulletin issued to all 160,000 members of the performers union, SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher and National Executive Director & Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland instructed all members to immediately "cease rendering all services and performing all work covered by the TV/Theatrical Contracts." Actors are barred from promoting any project made under the TV/theatrical agreement that expired on June 30th, including at fan expos and conventions like Comic-Con 2023

But projects that wrapped production or were shooting before the SAG strike aren't the only ones impacted by the work stoppage. According to the strike rules, SAG-AFTRA members are prohibited from "negotiating and/or entering into and/or consenting to an agreement to perform covered services in the future." Covered services include but are not limited to principal on-camera work (acting), principal off-camera work (fittings, wardrobe tests, makeup tests, rehearsals, camera tests, and auditions), and promotion of/publicity services for work under the TV/Theatrical Contracts (conventions and panels).

The memo also states that members must "instruct their agent and/or other representatives to discontinue conducting negotiations on their behalf with the studios, streamers and networks for covered services." 

Under the SAG strike rules, performers and studios must walk away from the negotiating table — meaning fans will be waiting even longer to find out which actors, if any, have been secured for Marvel's Fantastic Four reboot. (Disney's Marvel Studios will be skipping San Diego Comic-Con's Hall H this year, which means there will be no buzzy casting announcements for Fantastic Four or other projects on the Marvel slate.)

Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige formally announced Fantastic Four during Disney's Investor Day in December 2020, tapping Spider-Man trilogy director Jon Watts to bring Marvel's first family — Sue and Reed Richards, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm — into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Watts eventually departed the project and was replaced by WandaVision director Matt Shakman.

It was reported in February that Marvel was "gearing up" the Fantastic Four casting process with a focus on locking Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman, and would build out the rest of the team around that actress. Internet rumors have linked Margot Robbie (Barbie), Jodie Comer (Free Guy), and Vanessa Kirby (Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One) to the role, while Adam Driver (Star Wars) is the reported frontrunner to play Reed Richards, a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic.

Fantastic Four is scheduled to begin filming in January 2024 in London, but that could change with Hollywood facing its first dual strike since 1960. Marvel Studios has slated the reboot to release May 2nd, 2025, as part of the MCU Phase 6.