Now that The Fantastic Four‘s main cast has been set, there has been a lot of excitement surrounding what the Marvel Cinematic Universe‘s reboot might have in store. We got a pretty strong indication on Wednesday night, with reports confirming that Ozark and Inventing Anna actress Julia Garner has joined The Fantastic Four in a major role. Garner is reportedly set to portray the Marvel Comics character of Shalla-Bal, who will be operating as the Silver Surfer within the film.

So, who exactly is Shalla-Bal? Keep reading to find out a bit more about her Marvel Comics history.

Who Is Marvel’s Shalla-Bal?

Created by Stan Lee and John Buscema in 1968’s Silver Surfer #1, Shalla-Bal is introduced as the Empress of Zenn-La, a utopian planet originally crafted by a time-traveling Norrin Radd / Silver Surfer. Shalla-Bal and Norrin initially met following the death of his mother, but he ignored her feelings for him and focused on his work. Once Norrin was given the Power Cosmic and became the Silver Surfer, he left Shalla-Bal, in part so Galactus would theoretically spare Zenn-La from his planet-eating wrath.

Over the years, Shalla-Bal has continued to have feelings for Silver Surfer, even while she was cloned, manipulated by Mephisto, and briefly killed. During that storyline, Norrin actually gave Shalla-Bal part of the Power Cosmic, so she could helps save Zenn-La from being destroyed by Galactus. Afterwards, Shalla-Bal told Norrin that she couldn’t marry him, out of duty to her planet. She has appeared periodically in the years since, both in Silver Surfer stories and in larger parts of Marvel’s comics corner.

Although Shalla-Bal has largely been portrayed as a humanoid alien ruler in the main Marvel canon, she did become the Silver Surfer in the separate continuity of the Earth X miniseries. In a brief appearance in the issue, both Shalla-Bal and Norrin were both given the Power Cosmic and dubbed the twin-heralds of a new Galactus, Franklin Richards, only for Shalla-Bal to quickly be killed. 

Prior to Shalla-Bal’s appearance in Fantastic Four, she appeared in the 1998 Silver Surfer animated series, in which she was voiced by Camilla Scott. She and Norrin’s llove story has also inspired multiple songs. 

What Is the New Fantastic Four Movie About?

Plot details have not been revealed for Marvel’s The Fantastic Four. The Fantastic Four will star Pedro Pascal as Reed Richards / Mister Fantastic, Vanessa Kirby as Sue Storm / Invisible Woman, Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Ben Grimm / The Thing, and Joseph Quinn as Johnny Storm / Human Torch. The film will be directed by WandaVision‘s Matt Shakman, who has teased that the way the Fantastic Four script approaches its plot — and the influences of its Marvel Comics source material — appealed to him.

“It’s different in so many ways,” Shakman explained. “I wish I could be specific. I wish I could say more. But we are doing things very differently from a story standpoint, from an approach to the filmmaking standpoint, that really fits the material. I wish I could say more. I would love to, but I can’t. But I think it’s going to be unlike anything you’ve seen before, and certainly unlike anything at Marvel that you’ve seen before.”

“We have been nonstop,” Shakman said of the pre-production work on the film. “Despite the strikes, yes, we’ve been working with the effects and with production design and building our world, and that’s been incredibly exciting. You know, how do you translate those skills into live-action in dynamic ways? Because some things that work beautifully in John Byrne and Jack Kirby are a little tougher when you’re filming them. How do you make sure that things are exciting but also grounded in a scientific thing, which is also part of the Fantastic Four that I love? There’s some stuff I’m super excited about. I can’t say too much, you know?”

Are you excited to see Marvel’s Shalla-Bal make her MCU debut in The Fantastic Four? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

The Fantastic Four is currently scheduled to be released exclusively in theaters on July 25, 2025.

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