Ever since Director Hayward's revelation in WandaVision E4 regarding the seemingly mothballed astronaut core, apparently a major focus during the early phase of SWORD, having been decimated, rumors have abounded whether that admission was a subtle nod to the introduction of the Fantastic Four into the MCU sooner than later.
The Fantastic Four is long considered Marvel's "first family" having been introduced in November of 1961 and pre-dated both the Avengers and the earliest incarnation of the X-Men by almost two years.
During Disney Investor Day in December of last year, Kevin Feige announced that a Fantastic Four movie was entering pre-production and further indicated that Jon Watts had recently been signed to direct the project. No stranger to Marvel, Watts recently helmed both the Spider-Man Homecoming and Far from Home movies and is in the director's chair for the upcoming multiverse Spider-Man saga due to hit theaters in December of 2021 before turning his attention to the Fantastic Four.
To date, that is the only official staffing or cast announcement for the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot.
This was exciting news for fans who have long hoped that Marvel could do the first family justice after three failed attempts by Fox to bring the Fantastic Four to the big screen. These included the 2005 and 2007 pictures that were panned almost universally and the 2015 reboot by Josh Trank that fared even worse, grossing just over 167 Million dollars worldwide which, for a superhero movie, is abysmal.
Although the future Fantastic Four installment is not likely to be in theatres until 2023 or perhaps a bit later, Marvel has a pattern of introducing characters slowly to build both excitement as well as character development. By the time the Avengers hit the screen in 2012, the fans were very well acquainted with the members of the group. It stands to reason that Marvel will do the same with both the X-Men and the Fantastic Four.
Enter Reed Richards, leader of the Fantastic Four, inventor extraordinaire and possessing Tony Stark level brilliance, and one of the few characters in the MCU we can say is an actual astrophysicist or at least, portrays skills in the comics commensurate with that title. The specificity of that word used by Monica to describe her contact is too specific, meaning the introduction of just another high-browed MCU scientist (i.e., Shuri, Hank McCoy, Bruce Banner etc.) would make little sense.
In April of 2020 Geeks Worldwide reported that John Krasinski, the current favorite for playing Mr. Fantastic in the MCU, met with Marvel brass to discuss future projects although little else is known of the conversation but the timing is interesting. Some folks guess this statement by Monica is misdirection and that a casting of that magnitude, to say nothing of a major character introduction, could not be kept secret. I will remind people that the Luke Skywalker arrival at the end of The Mandalorian and Evan Peters cameo recently on WandaVision were kept under wraps with no problem. Perhaps Marvel is getting better at this.
Interestingly, shooting for WandaVision began in November of 2019 and resumed in September of 2020 after Covid brought a pause in March. Additionally, Evan Peters was only cast months before his shooting so it is plausible that if an actor signed for the part of Reed Richards, it could have been done recently if Marvel's goal is to begin bleeding in characters who will eventually make up the Fantastic Four as well as other heroes for their many upcoming Phase 4 projects.
WHAT IF, Reed Richards is an astrophysicist who contracts with SWORD (much like our friend Darcy) but has not yet gained his powers through cosmic energy. Further, WHAT IF, under new leadership, Reed, and the others, most notably Sue Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm, continue the exploratory nature of SWORD after WandaVision and hence, the Fantastic Four are born in their full glory later, but preceding the Fantastic Four movie release.
A few other ties that bind indicate that John Krasinski has expressed interest in being in the MCU and Reed Richards specifically as far back as February of 2020, "I would love to be in the Marvel universe. I have no idea what [Marvel] are thinking. But if they are considering me for Mister Fantastic, continue to consider me because I would love it."
The connections are further attested to when back in November of 2020, Kevin Feige admitted to an upcoming 'office inspired' episode for WandaVision. Episode 7 is about to enter a new decade which means the 'office' episode is coming and what better symbolism do we need than to see John Krasinski show up in a parallel time that the show he made famous, rears its head in Westview. This would usher in an exciting new era for the MCU and fandom would hit 'Skywalker-esque' craziness if this happened. And that is what Marvel wants after all.
In closing it can be agreed that this may be a simple distraction on Marvel's part to throw off rabid fanboys as they dangle red herrings before us. Or they may well introduce a character with a loose or albeit, minor connection to the MCU, at least up until this point. But the key elements pointing to the likelihood that our mystery 'astrophysicist' is Reed Richards is certainly stronger than any other theory thus far. It would certainly be the bombshell promised by both Paul Bettany and recently by Elizabeth Olsen when, in an interview with TVLine when she was asked if there was any major casting for the show that had not been released, to which she replied, "Yes...I'm really excited." Is Marvel seriously holding out a major cameo until the final episode? Possible, but doubtful.
Perhaps E7 will answer the question as to whether Reed Richards and therefore the Fantastic Four, have finally arrived in the MCU. Stay tuned! Image above by The Cosmic Wonder at Youtube.