Maybe he reminds me a bit of Dad, but the great, uh, thing about the Thing (the rock-encrusted, super-strong Ben Grimm from the comic book _Fantastic Four_) to my youthful mind was that he remained crusty and cynical even while encountering gods, aliens, secret government intelligence agencies, and verbose would-be world conquerors. When the Norse god Thor shouted at a foe that he would strike him "in the name of the Nine Realms," a weary Thing tossed a rock at the same enemy and added, "And this is fer Brooklyn!" He was the perfect foil to the eggheaded team leader Reed Richards, who was disturbingly megalomaniacal in his own right.

As a nerd growing up in New England, I no doubt had more in common with Reed than with Ben — but I saw something profoundly healthy in Ben’s skepticism and am delighted to find as an adult that New Yorkers share a bit of that Grimm spirit. The two of them are a balanced partnership worthy of comparison to, if not of the greatest literature, at least Kirk and Spock.

As I write these words, news comes that a young guy best known for playing a cocky jock in _Project X_ will play Reed in next year’s new film version, whereas Ben will be played by a small, skinny British man best known for having played the fey teenage male lover in the Green Day video for "When September Ends." Let others rage about Affleck being Batman. I now have a literary adaptation to worry about. I hope they do not turn Ben into something monstrous.

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