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Fantastic Four: Everything We Know About the Superteam's Marvel Cinematic Universe Debut

We've had a glimpse at one member of the group, but it probably won't be clobberin' time until 2023 or 2024 -- and director Jon Watts has left the movie.

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The Thing, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic and the Human Torch are coming to the MCU, mostly likely in 2023 or 2024.
Marvel Studios

With Marvel Cinematic Universe fans still reeling from the cameos in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, you might be wondering about upcoming movies, specifically Fantastic Four. It was originally meant to be helmed by Jon Watts (director of Spider-Man: Homecoming, Far From Home and No Way Home), but Deadline reported on April 29 that he's withdrawn from the project.

This movie is still early in production, but we can look at release date possibilities and a few casting options, as well as the characters' comic and cinematic history. 

This article contains SPOILERS for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, so beware if you haven't seen it.

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Release date: When is Fantastic Four coming out?

The movie got a brief shoutout in Marvel's trailer highlighting its upcoming movies last May, but that didn't reveal a release date and its schedule of upcoming movies and shows for 2022, 2023 and 2024 is already packed.

In October, Disney revealed its revised slate of upcoming movies through 2028. Its 2023 schedule includes one untitled Marvel movie coming out Nov. 3 and 2024 includes four Marvel movies -- due out Feb. 16, May 3, July 26 and Nov. 8. One of these is likely Fantastic Four (which may not be the movie's final title).

Casting: Who will play the Fantastic Four?

No casting has been announced. Fans have long called for The Office's John Krasinski to play stretchy team leader Reed Richards (aka Mr. Fantastic), and their wish came true in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Krasinski's take on Reed appears as a member of the Illuminati, an elite group of heroes Strange encounters in a parallel reality. He and several of his allies are quickly killed by Wanda Maximoff.

However, this wasn't the mainline MCU Reed and it's unclear if Krasinski will return to play that version of the character.

Edge of Tomorrow's Emily Blunt is also a popular fan choice to play Richards' wife Sue Storm (aka Invisible Woman). The real-life husband and wife already played an on-screen couple in 2018's A Quiet Place and its 2021 sequel, so it'd be excellent to see them bring that dynamic to the MCU. 

Blunt dismissed the idea as fan-casting in 2021, but her husband showing up as Reed makes it feel more likely.

Who'll direct Fantastic Four?

We don't know who'll take the director's chair following Watts' departure, but Peyton Reed (known for directing the Ant-Man movies and The Mandalorian season 2 finale) revealed in 2018 that he pitched a Fantastic Four movie in 2002 or 2003. Given his enthusiasm for the characters, Marvel might turn to him for this movie.

What's the Fantastic Four's comic book history?

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This issue started it all.

Marvel Comics

Conveniently, the intro for the '90s animated series outlines the team's origins and powers in a super-catchy manner.

You're welcome. Now that you're tapping your feet, we'll go over the basics. The team first appeared in 1961's Fantastic Four No. 1, by late comics legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. This basically kicked off the Marvel Comics Universe, since the pair co-created the Avengers and the X-Men shortly afterward.

The first issue sees Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm blasting off to space in an experimental rocket. They get bombarded with cosmic radiation (a real thing), giving them an array of cool superpowers (not a real thing). 

Reed can stretch his body into pretty much any shape and takes the codename Mr. Fantastic. He's super-smart too.

Sue can turn invisible and create powerful force fields. She goes by Invisible Girl initially, but changes it to the more dignified Invisible Woman later. She's also Reed's fiancee and ultimately his wife.

Johnny can cover his body in flames, control fire and fly. Known as the Human Torch. He's Sue's brother, and his catchphrase is "Flame on!"

Ben turns into a rock monster -- taking the name Thing -- with super strength and endurance. He is furious initially but mellows out over time. Glorious catchphrase: "It's clobberin' time!" He's pretty great.

They battle the Mole Man in that first issue, but soon attract a rogues gallery that includes the Skrulls (who joined the MCU in Captain Marvel), angry sea-dwelling Namor the Sub-Mariner, the planet-gobbling Galactus and his herald the Silver Surfer, Kree jerk Ronan the Accuser and Negative Zone ruler Annihilus. 

But one villain stands above them all.

What Marvel villain will the Fantastic Four face?

The movie's villain is unknown, but the Fantastic Four comics happen to have one of the greatest enemies in comic book history. 

Doctor Doom, also known as Victor Von Doom, was Stan Lee's favorite baddy because he's the ruler of his home country, Latveria. First appearing in 1962's Fantastic Four No. 5, he was Reed's college rival and ignored his advice about a flaw in a machine he was working on. The resulting explosion messed up Doom's face, and he took to wearing a signature mask to hide his disfigurement.

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Look how cool Doctor Doom is!

Marvel Comics

Like Reed, Doom's a super-smart scientist. Along with his mask, he forged an advanced suit of armor, which fills the vacancy left after Tony Stark's fate in Avengers: Endgame. He has a bunch of robot doppelgangers -- Doombots -- that can take the fall in his place when heroes best him.

Aside from his scientific ability, Doom is a powerful sorcerer, so he can take on Dr. Strange too. In the comics, he attained ultimate power in both the 1985 and 2015 Secret Wars storylines. He's one of the few villains worthy of taking on the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. There's no guarantee Doom will actually appear in the first MCU Fantastic Four movie, but he's so darn cool and iconic that he should show up in some form.

In 2017, Legion creator Noah Hawley said he was working on a Doctor Doom movie, but it's likely that plan was shelved or altered when Disney bought Fox. In early 2020, he expressed hope that his script fits Marvel Studios' plan for the character, but noted at the time that he'd heard nothing.

They could also face off against some version of Kang the Conqueror, a time-traveling villain whose MCU counterpart was alluded to in Loki's season finale. Kang will also appear in 2023's Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. He's battled the Fantastic Four in the comics over the years and may be related to Reed.

Previous movies

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The 2015 Fantastic Four is not worth your time.

20th Century Fox

The first stab at bringing the team to the silver screen happened in 1994's The Fantastic Four, which involved B-movie legend Roger Corman. It's kinda like the Star Wars Holiday Special of Marvel movies. This was an origin story for the characters, but it was never released and there are conflicting stories as to why. If you're curious, it's on YouTube and not that bad.

The team's first real cinematic outing happened in 2005's Fantastic Four, directed by Tim Story, with future Captain America Chris Evans as Johnny. Jessica Alba played Sue, Ioan Gruffudd was Reed and Michael Chiklis portrayed Ben. Doom was played by Julian McMahon, and this origin story was disappointing. This came out the same year as Batman Begins, and the Fantastic Four movie seemed like a throwback to sillier superhero films.

That didn't stop it from getting a sequel, Rise of the Silver Surfer, in 2007. This movie brought in the awesome Silver Surfer (played by Doug Jones and voiced by Laurence Fishburne), but still wasn't great. It's also infamous for depicting Galactus as a cosmic storm rather than his traditional comic book form.

The franchise was rebooted in 2015, with director Josh Trank at the helm. That movie had a great cast -- Miles Teller as Reed, Kate Mara as Sue, Michael B. Jordan as Johnny, Jamie Bell as Ben and Toby Kebbell as Doom -- but it turned out to be a joyless mess. Since then, Trank said he has no interest in directing any more Marvel or DC movies.

Let's hope the Marvel Studios attempt, whenever we see it, finally gives the Fantastic Four the cinematic outing they deserve.