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Marvel's Fantastic Four: Everything we know about comics' First Family coming to the MCU

When will it be clobberin' time? Let's talk Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch, the Thing and Doctor Doom.

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The Thing, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic and Human Torch will hit "the level that they deserve" when they come the MCU, according to Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige.

Marvel Comics

We got slammed with exciting Marvel Cinematic Universe announcements as Phase 4 was unveiled at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, but one of Marvel's biggest teams only got the briefest mention. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige yelled to the Hall H crowd that he "didn't even have time to talk about the Fantastic Four," a supergroup parent company Disney got the rights to in its Fox takeover.

Feige cautiously addressed the namedrop when CNET sister site Comicbook.com asked him about Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch and the Thing coming to the MCU. "That means that we have them back and we are working towards it," Feige said.

Feige also made his passion for the characters clear in a Variety interview, but noted his team wasn't even close to casting a movie or coming up with a story. "I'm extremely excited about those characters and about bringing Marvel's First Family up to the platform and the level that they deserve," he said, subtly acknowledging that previous Fantastic Four movies all sucked.

So we don't know who'll be in it, when it'll be out or much of anything right now -- we'll update this page as that changes. For now, let's take a look at who the Fantastic Four are and go through their (ugh) movie history.

The basics

Conveniently, the intro for the '90s animated series outlines the characters' origins and powers in a super catchy way.

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 comic 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.

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This issue started it all.

Marvel Comics

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 (which is 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 code name Mr. Fantastic. He's super smart too.
  • Sue can turn invisible and create powerful force fields. She goes as Invisible Girl initially, but changes her name to the more dignified Invisible Woman later. She's Reed's fiancee.
  • Johnny can cover his body in flames, control fire and fly. Goes by Human Torch. He's Sue's brother, and his catchphrase is "Flame on!"
  • Ben turns into a rock monster -- taking the name with super strength and endurance. He's really angry 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.

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Doctor Doom is the greatest villain in Marvel Comics. He's seen on the cover of 2011's Vengeance No. 6, by Gabriele Dell'Otto.

Marvel Comics

Doom

Doctor Doom, aka Victor Von Doom, was Stan Lee's favorite villain 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.

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

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Doom also had a stint as Iron Man in Marvel's 2016 Infamous Iron Man comic series, but he's since returned to his villainous ways.

Aside from his scientific ability, Doom is a powerful sorcerer, so he could take on Dr. Strange too. In the comics, he attained ultimate power in both the 1985 and 2015 Secret Wars storylines. In the wake of Thanos, he's one of the few villains worthy of taking on the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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. Unfortunately, Doom and the Fantastic Four haven't had the best cinematic treatment up to now.

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Don't watch the 2015 Fantastic Four movie.

20th Century Fox

The movies

The first stab at bringing the characters to the silver screen happened in 1994's low-budget The Fantastic Four, which involved B-movie legend Roger Corman. This was an origin story for the characters, but never released -- it's kinda like the Star Wars Holiday Special of Marvel movies -- because it was apparently made just so the producer could retain the rights. 

If you're curious, it's on YouTube and not that bad -- it looks cheap, but some of the acting is decent, the score is pretty good and it's quite faithful to the comics. It was also the subject of a fun 2015 documentary, Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman's The Fantastic Four, where the cast and crew recount their experiences during and after production.

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 all pretty bad. It came out the same year as Batman Begins, and Fantastic Four seemed like a throwback to sillier superhero movies.

That didn't stop it from getting a sequel, Rise of the Silver Surfer, in 2007. This movie brought in the extremely cool Silver Surfer (played by Doug Jones and voiced by Laurence Fishburne), but it still wasn't very good. 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. This movie had a pretty 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.

So right now, The Incredibles and its sequel are the closet you can get to great Fantastic Four movies.

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

Published July 26 and updated as news of the Fantastic Four comes out.