The Thing: Back in the Closet?

By Max Gross

Published July 15, 2005, issue of July 15, 2005.

Three years ago, “The Thing” — Marvel Comics’s orange-hued, stony-skinned, 500-pound member of the Fantastic Four — revealed that before mutating into a superhero, he was Benjamin Jacob Grimm, a Jew from the Lower East Side (Fantastic Four, Number 56, “Remembrance of Things Past”).

But if you were expecting The Thing to revel in his Jewishness in the new live-action “Fantastic Four,” you’re bound for disappointment. (You’re probably bound for disappointment on many fronts if you plunk down 10 bucks to see the picture.)

In his new incarnation, The Thing (Michael Chiklis) makes nary a mention of the J-word.

But for the keen observer, the film does offer a few sly winks to members of the tribe: Ben Grimm is originally from Brooklyn (he might even be from Hasidic Williamsburg, based on the shot we see of his apartment next to the elevated J-M-Z line); when his friend, Reed Richards, is faced with an unfavorable business deal, The Thing, channeling Jewish mothers everywhere, says, “Why not let him have your firstborn child, too?”

On the whole, though, the movie represents The Thing’s retreat to the religiously neutral closet.

The more Things change, the more they stay the same.



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