Bringing the Fantastic Four Into The MCU
An Opinion by Carmelo Chimera
The Fox/Disney merger is finally complete, and with it a slew of Marvel characters have returned home. At last, these long lost heroes can be saved from mediocre film outings and rejoin their fellow warriors in the MCU.
Everyone wants to know, how will the Fantastic Four and the X-Men fit into the film universe crafted by Kevin Feige and the gang? Well, since no one asked, I thought I’d tell you how I would bring the Fantastic Four into the MCU.
If you like my idea, share this post! Maybe the guys upstairs will see it and give me a shot at the big time. Stranger things, and all that.
1. The Fantastic Four Should Come Before The X-Men
Okay, unpopular opinion time. I think Marvel should focus on the Fantastic Four before they do the X-Men:
- X-Men have two films in the existing Fox continuity due out this year. We’ll need a little time to cleanse the pallet before introducing what will probably be a reboot.
- X-Men movies have introduced iconic and beloved representations of several character, including at least Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). These are household names, played nearly perfectly by household names who don’t just look the part, but have great acting talent to boot. It’s going to be tough to replace them.
- X-Men movies have been going strong (or, at least consistently) for nearly 20 years. On the other hand, the Fantastic Four have yet to have a truly memorable outing worthy of their name.
- Finally, I think the X-Men need to be introduced slowly. But, more on that in another article.
But, where to start with the FF? Definitely not at the beginning, because…
2. Marvel’s First Family Should Skip The Origin Story
I daresay the least interesting part of the Fantastic Four is their origin.:
- “cosmic rays” are unduly vague (look, lawyer words!)
- the space race isn’t timely anymore, and
- of the four FF movies so far (yes I’m counting the unreleased film), three of them have been origin movies.
I say no more.
What makes the Fantastic Four exciting is that they aren’t just heroes – they are explorers, adventurers through wonderous and surreal science fiction landscapes. The MCU has done this successfully to a point with Dr. Strange. The other interesting thing about the Fantastic Four is their family dynamics. The MCU has done this successfully with the Guardians of the Galaxy. I think any knew outing should focus on these aspects. And you can move the emphasis here and off of the origin if…
3. The FF Should Already Be Established.
The Fantastic Four are too classic, too iconic to be the “new guys” in the MCU. They are Marvel’s First Family, and a hallmark of the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby era that revolutionized comic books. I don’t want to see them treated like the green new kids.
Plus, I already explained I don’t want to see their origin again.
Marvel already dealt with this once with Ant-Man. A founding Avenger in the comics, it would have been a disservice to this character to be introduced as the rookie amongst an established world of heroes. But, Marvel leaned into it and tapped into the generational aspect of the character by cleverly making Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne the original Ant-Man and Wasp, operating as covert agents (because shrinking) for decades before there were Avengers.
They should pull an “Ant-Man” with the Fantastic Four because…
4. The Fantastic Four Should Follow Captain Marvel
So, if the Fantastic Four have already been around, when do they first appear? I think they can provide a crucial link in the decades long gap between Captain Marvel and Iron Man.
LIGHT SPOILER WARNING FOR CAPTAIN MARVEL
Nick Fury says good-bye to Captain Marvel in 1995, give or take. It’s not until 13 years later that he meets Iron Man. But we know he’d been planning the Avengers Initiative the whole time because we see Fury drafting the initial proposal at the end of Captain Marvel.
What happens in the interim? Who protects Earth between 1995 and 2008? Does SHIELD just sit on its thumbs waiting for a hero, after Captain Marvel changed what they know about aliens and the limits of technology? Does Fury just sit on the Tesseract until 2012?
So here’s my theory to introduce the FF early and explain this long gap in the MCU history:
Almost immediately after Captain Marvel, SHIELD outsources interdimensional/space travel to billionaire genius Reed Richards (remember, Howard Stark is dead and Tony Stark is a selfish playboy at this point). Reed uses it to create a portal to the Negative Zone (way more novel than outer space). But the Tesseract’s cosmic rays are unpredictable, and even shielded it mutates Reed and his crew once they get the power on (this was an elegant touch to Carol Danvers’ origin, in my opinion). This is way better than random and vague “cosmic rays” plus, it’s technically cosmic radiation so we’re still true to the comics!
BUT, all of this should be in flashback only, which begs the question…
4. Then Where Have They Been This Whole Time?
So, I’m saying the Fantastic Four appear in the mid 90s. For a few years, they operated, during which time:
- Reed and Sue got married
- Reed and Sue have Franklin and Valerie Richards
- Dr. Doom is deposed with the help of the Fantastic Four (this last part is important because otherwise, seriously, where has he been?)
Now, sometime in the late 90s, the team takes off to explore the Negative Zone, and because time passes differently there or some other such suitable explanation, they disappear without aging much if at all until after the events of Avengers Endgame.
This also provides an easy storyline for the first movie…
5. Annihilus Follows the FF Back From the Negative Zone
So, the FF return from the Negative Zone where they were off being explorer scientists. This return serves as an introduction for the audience, without an origin. So it’s like a “re-introduction” of the FF even though it’s their first appearance in the MCU.
Anyway, the FF are quite mortified to find how long it’s been. What’s worse, Earth suffered several metahuman skirmishes and invasions from both killer robots and aliens, while the FF did nothing.
The team resolves to focus on being heroes because after Endgame, and this is important:
There are no Avengers. But more on that in my MCU Phase 5 predictions in a later article.
Meanwhile, the FF’s actions in the Negative Zone have consequences, and Annihilus follows them back. He’s a cool looking and iconic villain we haven’t seen yet and who recently made headlines when he (apparently but not really though) killed the Human Torch.
But most importantly, they should do Annihilus instead of the more obvious choice because…
6. Dr. Doom Is Too Big For Their First Film
It bears repeating: Dr. Doom is too big for the first FF film.
This is also why I mentioned he’d been deposed and/or presumed killed before the FF disappeared. One, they’d never leave Earth and leave Doom unchecked. Two, it lets them talk about Doom like the boogeyman, the devil himself, with overwhelming and looming dread.
So when he’s teased at the end credits, the crowd goes wild. Unlike DC, Marvel has the street cred to tease sure-thing sequels, so I’m not apprehensive about sparing their best villain.
So, what do you think? Would you rather they sit on the FF? Or make it an origin story? Let me know!