Tim Blake Nelson in The Incredible Hulk

Universal Studios

The Fantastic Four already has its Fantastic Four. It also has a Doctor Doom. And once those five names were announced, the world said, “Well, neat,” and promptly moved on to other things. Once we have the science-minded super family and their arch-nemesis, what else is there to care about?

Mole Man. We should care about Mole Man. Because according to The Hollywood Reporter, Tim Blake Nelson is in talks to join The Fantastic Four as “Harvey Elder, an eccentric and socially awkward scientist” who is also the guy who eventually burrows underground, enslaves a race of mole people and christens himself Mole Man, hellbent on destroying the surface world that shunned him for being extremely short and also kind of a jerk.

Now to harsh the buzz brought about by the words “Mole” and “Man. According to The Hollywood Reporter’s anonymous sources, The Fantastic Four won’t have any Mole Man. Just Elder, being wacky and eccentric and setting himself up as a future villain, presumably for The Fantastic Four 2 and its June 14, 2017, release date.

This is great for people who like the Fantastic Four and appreciate a man who can empathize with tiny tube-shaped mammals. But it seems a little iffy for Nelson, who struck the same agreement with another Marvel franchise and ended up shot in the foot.

All that stuff in the 2008 The Incredible Hulk where Nelson’s head got all gross-looking? That wasn’t just Easter egg material. Nelson, who played Samuel Sterns in the last solo Hulk flick, was under contract to come back for two more sequels, as the green-skinned and giant-brained villain The Leader. He wanted to come back for a little brawn-on-braining, and Louis Leterrier (who directed The Incredible Hulk) spoke out in support of him.

But we’ve heard zilch about any of this from the people who matter (and those people are Kevin Feige and no one else), so it looks like Nelson and his giant green cranium might have been the bathwater thrown out with Edward Norton’s grotesque Hulk-baby.

The Fantastic Four does have a sequel already printed onto Fox’s schedule, so that’s a better deal than Nelson got with Marvel Studios and less chance that he’ll go zero for two on sequel supervillaining. Even so, it’s a gutsy move — there’s still a chance The Fantastic Four won’t do so hot, sequel plans will be scrapped and Nelson will be left with history’s worst case of supervillain blue balls.

I’ve got my fingers crossed for this one, not only for Nelson’s sake but because Mole Man is a completely bonkers villain that absolutely deserves to be seen on film. He’s a tiny little man who can barely see yet fights with an array of walking sticks equipped with James Bond secret weapons. He not only commands an army of mole people called the Moloids but also giant mutated monster beasts, one of which can be seen on the cover of the very first “Fantastic Four” comic.

That’s right. Not only is Mole Man silly and ridiculous and a little on the stupid side, but he’s also an integral part of Fantastic Four history. And more importantly, he once married Spider-Man’s Aunt May in a long-running newspaper comic storyline that saw the two of them living underground in his mole kingdom. Fantastic Four / Amazing Spider-Man crossover, here we come.

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