The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog is reporting that actor Tim Blake Nelson is in “final negotiations” to play a socially awkward scientist named Harvey Elder in Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four reboot. Longtime comic book fans might recognize the name, as it is the civilian identity of the comic book Fantastic Four’s villain, Mole Man, the bad guy the team faced on their very first adventure.
Mole Man is a scientist who was bullied for his looks, intellect and lack of social skills. He decided to leave the surface world and heads underground, where he discovers a subterranean race of yellow skinned creatures called Moloids. He crafts the creatures into an army which he uses to attack the surface world.
Sources say that while Harvey Elder will appear in the first film of the reboot, the Mole Man will not. The character is merely being set up as a bad guy for future FF films.
This scenario must sound familiar to Nelson as this is the second time he’s played a character meant to be a villain in future installments of a comic book film franchise. He also played Sam Stearns in The Incredible Hulk. Once again, comic fans know that name as the alter ego of the gamma ray powered Hulk villain, The Leader. In the film, the Stearns character was a scientist helping Bruce Banner to find a cure for his condition. However, a lab accident caused him to be infected with some of the Hulk’s blood and begin to change into a creature resembling his comic book doppelganger. Obviously, it was setting up Nelson as a potential villain for the franchise, but a sequel to The Incredible Hulk has not been forthcoming, and likely never will.