‘Fantastic Four’: How the MCU Can Avoid the Mistakes of Past Movies

Since 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has created definitive big-screen versions of countless heroes. But for all the MCU’s superheroes, the series has never been able to tackle the Fantastic Four. Until Disney’s acquisition of Fox, rights issues have kept the team out of the MCU. But that’s all about to change.

It’s only a matter of time before Marvel Studios brings the Fantastic Four into the MCU. The team — known as “Marvel’s First Family” — is one of Marvel’s earliest success stories. But given the property’s history, the MCU will have to be careful how it adapts the characters.

Jamie Bell, Kate Mara, Michael B Jordan, and Miles Teller at the 'Fantastic Four' premiere
Jamie Bell, Kate Mara, Michael B Jordan, and Miles Teller at the ‘Fantastic Four’ premiere | Lars Niki/Corbis via Getty Images

The ‘Fantastic Four’ have a spotty history on the big screen

Several of the MCU’s heroes have been adapted for the movies and TV before. But aside from Spider-Man and Hulk, none had really gotten the major blockbuster treatment. Under Fox, the Fantastic Four arrived in movie theaters a few times.

The first attempt to make a Fantastic Four movie happened in 1994. B-movie icon Roger Corman attempted to adapt the comic into a low-budget movie. But it was never released. And Fantastic Four didn’t hit the screen until 2005.

That Fox movie — which co-starred future Captain America star Chris Evans — rode the post-Spider-Man wave to become a box office hit. It even spawned a 2007 sequel. But fans didn’t care for either film. And Fox’s 2015 reboot proved to be a critical and commercial disaster.

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The multiverse means the MCU can bring on a team with no baggage

So Marvel Studios needs to avoid the mistakes of the past if it hopes to integrate the Fantastic Four into the MCU. Perhaps the easiest way to do so is to avoid some of the common elements of previous iterations. Taking a break from Doctor Doom, for example, is a good start. And the MCU should aim to skip a traditional origin story.

As was the case with Spider-Man’s MCU debut, audiences have already seen the Fantastic Four discover their powers. The best way forward is to not look back. A new report indicates Marvel will turn to the multiverse to bring both the X-Men and Fantastic Four into the MCU.

Such an approach allows Reed Richards, Sue Storm, and company to pop up without any narrative baggage. Rather than making introductions, the team can be off and running on a new adventure. Naturally, their debut film will feature some MCU cameos, bringing them into the big picture.

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Staying true to the characters has worked for more than a decade

For more than a decade, Marvel Studios has churned out hit superhero movies. And there’s little reason to think the MCU’s Fantastic Four can’t be another success story. After all, the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy movies expertly balance ensemble casts.

What has made the MCU so popular for so long is the balance it strikes. The mid-2000s Fantastic Four movies leaned into the silliness of the material. And the 2015 one went way too dark. But the MCU knows how to take its characters seriously without downplaying their broad appeal.

Fans shouldn’t expect anything less once the Fantastic Four finally returns to theaters.