Marvel’s Fantastic Four (2025) will see the debut of the MCU’s version of The Fantastic Four, and the timing could not be better. Marvel’s original first family, The Fantastic Four has so far received three live-action movies. However, two of those were origin stories, and none of The Fantastic Four films managed to translate the team’s importance in the comics. Even when compared to Fox’s other Marvel franchise, the X-Men movies, The Fantastic Four series still falls short. For a superhero team that is so crucial to Marvel Comics’ history, The Fantastic Four asks for a solid, definitive live-action movie saga.
Given how The Fantastic Four has yet to have a universally praised live-action adaptation, the expectations for the MCU’s Fantastic Four movie could not be higher. Following Disney’s acquisition of Fox, The Fantastic Four and all its supporting characters can now be used by Marvel Studios, and the same applies to the X-Men. Marvel’s Fantastic Four will only premiere in 2025, but the MCU is already using some of its new heroes. John Krasinski played Mr. Fantastic in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and while it isn’t clear whether Krasinski will be the MCU’s Reed Richards, The Fantastic Four exists in the multiverse ahead of their arrival in 2025.
The MCU Built Its Legacy Without The Fantastic Four
The Fantastic Four are among the most recognizable Marvel superheroes not only because of the decades of history in Marvel Comics but also because of the three movie adaptations and two animated series. By the time the MCU began with Iron Man, The Fantastic Four was much better known to general audiences than Tony Stark, for example. Marvel Studios did not have the movie rights to most of Marvel’s A-list characters, that is, Spider-Man, X-Men, and The Fantastic Four. Marvel still had some big names like Thor to use, but it was difficult to imagine a Marvel Cinematic Universe without so many key characters.
Iron Man’s success turned its titular character into a pop culture icon right away, and it proved that lesser-known Marvel characters could become “movie stars” just as much as Spider-Man or Wolverine. Four years after Iron Man, the MCU released its first billion-dollar movie, The Avengers. From then on, the MCU and the Avengers series became what every superhero franchise wanted to achieve.
Spider-Man only joined the MCU in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War following the Sony/Marvel deal, The Fantastic Four will only get an MCU movie in 2025, and no X-Men film has been officially announced yet. Still, the MCU managed to become the most successful movie franchise in history. Despite not having their most recognizable characters involved in Phases 1 and 2, Marvel Studios built a strong foundation for the future of the franchise.
The MCU’s Spider-Man Problems Showed How Big Iron Man’s Influence Was
The fact that Marvel Studios created a successful cinematic universe without Spider-Man, X-Men, and The Fantastic Four was impressive, but it also posed a challenge for the franchise. With this version of the Marvel universe so focused on Iron Man and the Avengers, how would names like Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four be integrated into it if the opportunity ever came? That was the challenge Marvel had to figure out ahead of Captain America: Civil War, a movie based on a comic book saga in which Spider-Man has a central role. The Sony and Marvel deal meant that the MCU could now have its Spider-Man, but his introduction was not easy.
In the comics, Spider-Man is one of the pillars of the entire Marvel Universe despite not being an Avenger most of the time. Though Peter Parker is younger than most of the Avengers, Spider-Man’s legacy as a superhero, in-universe, is as significant as those of Iron Man or Captain America in the comics, perhaps even more. In the MCU, however, Iron Man, Captain America, and the rest of the Avengers were already legends by the time Spider-Man was introduced. Instead of being equal to Iron Man and the Avengers, the MCU’s Peter Parker ended up being a new generation of superhero that learned a lot from Tony Stark.
However, given that the MCU was already in Phase 3 when Spider-Man was introduced, the iconic Marvel superhero felt smaller compared to the Avengers’ legacy. In terms of comic book history, Spider-Man is far more important than Iron Man, which obviously does not apply to the MCU. From Iron Man to Avengers: Endgame, the MCU’s Iron Man became a pop culture icon and synonymous with successful box office. That is why introducing any of the X-Men or the Fantastic Four when Iron Man was still alive in the MCU might not have worked.
Phase 4 Felt Iron Man & The Avengers’ Absences
It would never be easy for Marvel to start a new saga coming off of Avengers: Endgame, especially without names like Tony Stark, Natasha Romanoff, and Steve Rogers. Endgame was the culmination of the MCU’s first decade of movies, a massive crossover event that cannot be replicated right away. Phase 4, just like Phase 1, is a beginning for the Marvel Universe now that Thanos has been defeated and new heroes are being introduced. Thanks to the Disney+ Marvel shows, the MCU was able to introduce several characters in a short amount of time, most of which had never appeared in live-action before.
Kate Bishop, Moon Knight, and Ms. Marvel are just some examples of Marvel characters who made their live-action debut during Phase 4. However, unlike what happened during Phase 1, the MCU now has an entire decade of baggage behind it. Audiences did not know what to expect ahead of Iron Man whereas now the MCU name by itself already brings a certain level of expectations, especially after Endgame. In other words, it was easier for Marvel to bank on lesser-known characters before the MCU became a pop culture giant. In a post-Endgame and Spider-Man: No Way Home franchise, the MCU will need Marvel’s most famous superheroes.
The Fantastic Four Can Be Marvel’s Next Flagship Heroes
The Avengers franchise will most likely continue to be the MCU’s biggest box office draw. However, the Avengers movies are becoming rarer after Endgame. Whereas the Infinity Saga had at least one Avengers movie per phase, the Multiverse Saga will only have two Avengers movies. Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars will both be released as part of Marvel’s Phase 6, suggesting that the Avengers films will not be saved for the big events. With plans for the MCU’s X-Men movie yet to be announced, now is the perfect time for The Fantastic Four to arrive in this universe.
The MCU needs a new flagship movie series just like The Fantastic Four needs to reestablish itself as one of Marvel’s most important teams. While The Fantastic Four’s impact in the comics never changed, it has been seven years since the last Fantastic Four movie. Marvel’s Fantastic Four film can create what audiences will see as the definitive version of The Fantastic Four for decades, just like what happened to the Avengers. Marvel didn’t get to start the MCU with The Fantastic Four but now has the chance of crafting the next phases with Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm at the center of it.