The Fantastic Four were one of Marvel's most recognizable brands before the launch of the MCU, so the property seemed primed to capitalize on the modern trend of superhero blockbusters. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case for Marvel's first family, but Disney is finally ready to unleash them into the larger MCU canon.
The project currently just titled Fantastic Four will be the third attempt to produce a big-screen adaptation of the heroes. The original was something of a progenitor to the MCU, following the success of Sony's Spider-Man and Fox's own X-men movies. The 2005 feature boasted a star-studded cast including Jessica Alba and Captain America himself, Chris Evans. The movie was a bit of a dud with critics but performed ok, at least enough to earn it a sequel.
After another lukewarm reception to Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and a fair bit of criticism over the portrayal of Galactus, one of the most iconic Marvel villains, the franchise was shelved. In 2015 newcomer Josh Trank was tasked with reinventing the franchise in another film simply called Fantastic Four. The film adopted a darker tone and a non-sensical plot leading to it being even more poorly received than the previous attempts.
Following the acquisition of Fox Studios in 2019, Disney gained the rights to the X-men and Fantastic Four franchise with many fans hoping they'd finally be introduced into the MCU. After sitting on the properties for a little while, Kevin Feige finally announced late last year that the Fantastic Four will indeed be getting their own MCU movie and here is everything we know about it so far.
When does Fantastic Four come out?
No official release date has been set for the movie as it is still in the very early stages of production. However, Marvel did drop a pretty big hint as to where it will fit in their ongoing slate. After an extended hiatus for the film industry following the effects of the global pandemic, it's now been almost two years since Marvel released a movie. It will, in fact, have been more than two years by the time their next film, Black Widow, hits screens.
To get fans back into the mood, Marvel Studios released a trailer last month entitled Marvel Studios Celebrates The Movies. The trailer featured landmark scenes from the MCU already and teased all the films set to be released in the next two years. Giving fans a timeline for the slate all the way up to May 2023, with Fantastic Four getting a brief cameo just after with no date confirmed. Given the schedule for the rest of their slate though it's safe to assume they're currently targeting a release for either July or November 2023.
Who is directing Fantastic Four?
One of the few actually confirmed details, Jon Watts will take the helm for this latest incarnation of the quartet. Watts already has pedigree within the MCU having directed Spider-Man Homecoming, Spider-Man: Far From Hom e and the upcoming entry Spider-Man: No Way Home. The Spider-Man films have been a huge hit commercially and critically so it seems Fantastic Four is in safe hands.
Marvel Studios also look to replicate the formula they used for the initial launch of the MCU by having creative talent rollover. With the Avengers saga having come to a close in Avengers: Endgame, phase 4 will be tasked with launching a new Avengers that can replicate the success. Spider-Man is expected to be a significant part of that having begun work on the new world already in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Fantastic Four are also rumored to be a big part of the future plans as one of the few bankable franchises the MCU hasn't already explored. Having Watts oversee both movies will help cement the consistency between films and likely help build the world around it, introducing a new major antagonist and over-arching story. Not to mention a cameo from the web-slinger himself could be in the pipeline.
What is Marevl's Fantastic Four about?
A script has yet to be penned for the movie but there are plenty of compelling storylines from the long-running series that could provide a good jumping-off point for the Fantastic Four. For starters, as many fans will know the Fantastic Four played a key role in Amazing Spider-Man #1, the first-ever Spider-man comic. In search of employment, Spider-Man tries to join the Fantastic Four, where he battles them before realising they are a non-profit organisation.
Given Watts' connection and the witty nature of the Spider-Man series, this could offer an ideal introduction to the characters. Peter has only been portrayed as a high school student thus far but by 2023 actor Tom Holland will be 27-years-old. A transition for the character into the real world in something closer to Tobey Maguire's Parker could be on the cards for later entries making this a distinct possibility.
Also, considering audiences have seen the Fantastic Four's origin story twice in the last 20 years, expect Marvel Studios will most likely opt to gloss over that for this feature, similar to what they did in Spider-Man Homecoming.
How does Marvel's Fantastic Four fit into the MCU canon?
Fans can expect the movie will likely serve as a vehicle to the larger universe, introducing the team and key plot points to the larger narrative. Perhaps even introducing Galactus who's rights also transitioned with the quartet. Many Marvel fans were tipping him to be the original main antagonist, back when the universe first launched. Waiting another two years to reveal the next major step seems unlikely given where Marvel Studios have been at in recent years, however it did take four years to give fans a first glimpse of Thanos so it's not unprecedented.
The Fantastic Four will probably have a significant role in shaping the narrative for a new Avengers team-up. To provide a comparison, imagine Spider-Man will be what Iron Man was to the original Avengers, having already been groomed to become Tony's successor, then the Fantastic Four could occupy a role similar to what Captain America played. In particular with films like Captain America: Civil War which dealt directly with the fallout of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Many fans are expecting Doctor Strange: Multiverse Madness to be the next lynchpin in the next Avengers narrative but on the off chance it isn't, Fantastic Four almost certainly will be.
Who is the villain in Marvel's Fantastic Four?
Depending on the narrative choices, Watts may want to keep the antagonist as a smaller part of the overall plot, with more focus drawn on the characters and their new roles in this world. If they are going to skip the origin story a good explanation will be needed as to what the quartet have been up to this whole time and why they've yet to surface despite the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.
Likewise, if the team are just discovering their powers, that could make for an awkward fit too considering the typical portrayal of Reed Richards, who we'd expect to have a leadership role in the Avengers down the line. If the Fantastic Four are significantly less experienced than their contemporaries they could prove a tricky fit into a new Avengers line-up. Throw in the usual family drama and Fantastic Four could take a relatively unconventional approach to the tried and tested superhero formula with the focus on character development first and foremost.
If this is the case there's likely no better candidate for the role of the villain than Mole Man who served as the primary antagonist in the first issue of Fantastic Four. A nuclear engineer and explorer who becomes lost in a subterranean eco-system only to rise to become the ruler of the native Moloids and lead attacks on the surface world. A nice nod to the history of the comics and could provide suitable cannon fodder for the heroes' first outing as well as some likely apt social commentary about climate change.
How do other MCU villains fit into Fantastic Four?
If Watts wanted to get really clever there are a couple of candidates for the principal antagonist who either have or may have been introduced into the MCU already. Leaping all the way to the second issue of the comics we get a familiar face in the Skrulls.
Skrulls made an appearance in Captain Marvel and Spider-Man: Far From Home but on both occasions they were ultimately shown to be a force for good. But the Kree suggested that the Skrulls were capable of evil in their first appearance. One Skrull in particular known as Super Skrull, an augmented super-soldier of the Skrull species who harnesses unique abilities, has been a recurring foe for the team in the comics would be the prime candidate.
Sticking with shapeshifters there's another major Marvel villain who featured in that initial cross over with Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four who may already be in the MCU, Chameleon. Numan Acar played an enigmatic shield agent assigned to watch over Peter in Spider-Man: Far From Home. We didn't learn much about him except his name Dimitri, something he has in common with long time Spidey foe, the Chameleon. There are plenty of fan theories about this already abound and if we do get a reveal it would likely come in a Spider-Man movie but the next one on the slate already looks pretty packed with villainous talent so who knows?
Is Doctor Doom in Marvel's Fantastic Four?
Of course, when it comes to the villains of Fantastic Four, one of the most iconic in all of comic history in Doctor Doom. Often ranked right up there with the likes of Joker in fan polls, the masked villain would be a huge omission from the MCU if he doesn't make an appearance at some point.
That said, there have already been two lackluster portrayals of Victor Von Doom in the aforementioned attempts to launch a Fantastic Four franchise. And unfortunately, Toby Kebbel's 2015 CGI mess still looms large over the character, meaning even 2023 might come too soon to re-introduce the character.
Again much like they have done with the Green Goblin it's probably best to shelve the character for now and let the Fantastic Four stand on their own feet. This leaves the potential for a landmark second or even third entry into the series that finally introduces the iconic baddie.
Who stars in Marvel's Fantastic Four?
Two significant MCU alumni have been cast in the Fantastic Four roles before with Chris Evans and Michael B. Jordan both playing the Human Torch, Johnny Storm so they will be some big shoes to fill. Johnny is usually the more charismatic of the four so expect a major personality to get the call but there's no word on who it'll be just yet.
The official casting is expected to be announced by Marvel Studios by the end of the year but there is a little to go on for now. Rumors have been rife that real-life Hollywood couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt are to be cast as Reed Richards and Sue Storm. Both actors have already expressed an interest in filling the roles publicly and both have former relations with the MCU. Former WWE superstar John Cena has also been suggested in the role of The Thing, Ben Grimm, to round out the cast, although sources less substantiated.
Are Emily Blunt and John Krasinski in Fantastic Four?
Blunt was reportedly initially cast to play the role of Natalie Rushman / Natasha Romanov in Iron Man 2 back in 2010. She eventually had to pull out of the role due to a scheduling conflict and it was of course filled by Scarlett Johansson, who went on to play the character of Black Widow nine times including in her own upcoming standalone movie. Krasinski meanwhile auditioned for the role of Captain America but was unsuccessful.
The couple also worked together on the 2018 horror smash hit A Quiet Place and both reprised their roles for the sequel. Having shown they have great on-screen chemistry together as well expressing an interest in the roles, not to mention both actors suit their respective parts from a physical standpoint, it's safe to presume this rumor could prove true.