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Who Is Shalla Bal Julia Garner’s Silver Surfer In The MCU Fantastic Four?

We recently got confirmation of the casting of Julia Garner as Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four, from Marvel Studios. The long-awaited Marvel Studios movie will finally introduce the Fantastic Four to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, the casting news of Silver Surfer also revealed some story elements that are unlike the source material. Julia Garner will play Shalla Bal, a different character than the traditional Silver Surfer, but still an original Marvel comics character. But to find out just who Shalla Bal is, keep reading as we deep dive into the character, her origins, and how she may fit into the MCU Fantastic Four. 

Who Is Shalla Bal In Marvel Comics? 

Julia Garner Silver Surfer Fantastic Four Comics.

Image via Marvel Comics.

Shalla Bal is a character in Marvel Comics who is the lover of Silver Surfer. When the planet-eating villain Galactus comes to the planet Zann-La, local Norrin Radd sacrifices himself to save his love, Shalla Bal, and his planet. Galactus turns him into the Silver Surfer, as he and Shalla Bal are forever separated. So in many ways, the character is the catalyst of Silver Surfer’s Origin story. And their lost love is one of the defining traits of the Silver Surfer character. 

However, there was an alternate version of Shalla Bal in Marvel Comics as well. The alternate is from Earth 9997, also known as Earth X. In this other universe, a new Galactus reunites Shalla Bal and Surfer, who then imbues Shalla Bal with the same powers that turned Norrin Radd into the Silver Surfer. The two worked together as twin-heralds of that Galactus. It’s this iteration of Shalla Bal as another Silver Surfer that could be the one in the MCU Fantastic Four. 

How Can Julia Garner’s Shalla Bal Be Silver Surfer In Fantastic Four?

Julia Garner Silver Surfer Fantastic Four Anna.

Image via Netflix.

If Marvel Studios Fantastic Four does use this Earth X version of Shalla Bal turned into Silver Surfer as the introduction of the character in the MCU, it does raise some eyebrows and begs some questions. For example, will Julia Garner’s Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four be the Earth X version? In which case, is the Fantastic Four movie set in the Earth X universe? Given Earth X’s dystopian story and the totally opposite retro and upbeat vibe of the Fantastic Four images released thus far, that doesn’t seem likely. 

Another approach that Marvel Studios may be taking, is replacing Norrin Radd from the original story, with Shalla Bal instead. Meaning it may be Shalla Bal who volunteers to become Galactus’ Herald when he comes to devour their planet. So like Norrin Radd in the original, it’s Shalla-Bal who becomes the Silver Surfer of the MCU. Which is definitely one way to go with it. 

Shalla Bal As Silver Surfer Is Not An Arbitrary Change

Julia Garner Silver Surfer Fantastic Four Torch.

Image via Marvel Comics.

Reception of the news of Julia Garner as Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four has been divisive. While many fans’ issue is that they just gender-swapped Norrin Radd. But that is technically not the case here. When a comic book movie adapts the original story to fit with their adaptation, changes happen. The story of Marvel Studios Fantastic Four may require the Surfer to be a woman. Especially if reports are true that the story focuses on Susan Storm more. Maybe Shalla Bal sacrificing her love will be a thematic through line that connects her with the Invisible Woman, mirroring her love for Reed Richards. And this wouldn’t be the first time a comic book movie has departed from the source material. 

Spider-Man: No Way Home switched the classic Uncle Ben’s death moment in Spider-Man’s origin story to a similar beat with Aunt May instead. The end result and emotional impact of the original still exist and resonate more with audiences who are invested in this iteration of the character. Similarly, Marvel Studios’ version of Civil War did not see Spider-Man reveal his identity as Peter Parker, as it happened in the comics storyline. Even X-Men: Days Of Future Past movie changed the character going back in time from Kitty Pryde to the fan favourite and box office draw, Wolverine. However, it made sense within the story they were telling with that movie. 

Concern and Condemnation Are Different Things

FF

Image via Marvel Studios.

Despite it all, if the MCU Fantastic Four is replacing the Norrin Radd story with that of Shalla Bal, we’ll have to wait for the release to find out. But fans’ concerns should be less about who is doing what, but should be more hopeful that any changes to the source material are done in service of the story and not any other factors. And that’s not something we can conclusively say until the film’s release. Or at least until we get a trailer.

The Fantastic Four releases in theatres on July 25, 2025. 

What do you think about Julia Garner as Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four? Let me know in the comments below, or follow me on X (formerly Twitter) at @theshahshahid to talk all things comic book movies. 

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