Disney has officially announced its purchase of 20th Century Fox. This is a big deal for a variety of reasons, one of which is the way that it will affect the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now, the Fantastic Four can be introduced to the MCU for the first time.
So how will Marvel do that? Well, there’s actually a perfect way hiding in plain sight, as one of Marvel’s 2017 releases already opened the door to the Fantastic Four’s introduction. Here’s how the Fantastic Four could enter the Marvel universe quite seamlessly.
Marvel could introduce them in another movie first
Introducing the Fantastic Four into the MCU could be tricky. The 2015 Fantastic Four already depicted the origin story on screen. But that was so bad that Marvel will have a tough time getting audiences interested in another version so soon.
This is basically the same thing that happened with Spider-Man. The Amazing Spider-Man movies told Peter Parker’s origin story, but the sequel got terrible reviews and underperformed at the box office. So rather than just rushing into another Spider-Man film, Marvel Studios decided to reintroduce the character in Captain America: Civil War.
After getting fans on board with Tom Holland, it came out with Spider-Man: Homecoming. This movie was completely different from all of the other Spider-Man movies and skipped over the origin story altogether — which made going from one Spider-Man to another in just two years a lot less jarring.
Similarly, with the Fantastic Four, Marvel probably won’t just release a new origin film called Fantastic Four right away. It’ll want to bring them in gradually in other movies, only to later spin them off into a new story that is completely different from the previous versions. But wait, has Marvel already introduced the Fantastic Four storyline?
In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Tony Stark sells the Avengers Tower
A minor plot point in Spider-Man: Homecoming is that Tony Stark sells the Avengers Tower. That’s why we see a plane heading out of New York and transporting weapons, which the villain later tries to steal.
The Avengers move to their upstate facility in the movie, meaning that iconic “A” in the skyline is now gone. This is a big change for the films to make, but why? On a practical level, it’s likely because the stakes of future Spider-Man movies would be fairly low if the Avengers can always come in and save the day at any time.
However, there may be another reason.
We never find out who bought the tower
Spider-Man: Homecoming never reveals to whom Tony sold the Avengers Tower. We just know that he sold the building, and that’s about it.
That’s a pretty critical piece of information for the movies to leave out, and it resulted in a wide variety of fan theories about the tower’s new owner. The answer to the question of who bought it could be Marvel’s way of introducing the Fantastic Four.
The tower could become the Baxter Building
Now that Marvel has the rights to the Fantastic Four, they could reveal that the Leland Baxter Paper Company purchased the Avengers Tower. The tower would, therefore, become the Baxter Building.
In the comics, the Baxter Building is in New York City, and it’s where the Fantastic Four’s headquarters is located. The Leland Baxter Paper Company owns the building, but the Fantastic Four purchase the top five floors.
This would allow for an iconic landmark to stay in New York City, and it would retroactively make it appear that Marvel was setting up the Fantastic Four years in advance.
This might not have been the intent at the time, but it could be the case now
So was this always the intention? That’s not clear. It’s possible Marvel did not have a plan for who the new owner of the tower would be. It’s also possible, as fans have theorized, that the planned owner was Oscorp. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said not long after Homecoming was released that he wasn’t aware of any plans to bring the Fantastic Four to the MCU.
But just because this wasn’t the plan for introducing the Fantastic Four at the time doesn’t mean it can’t retroactively be turned into the plan. After all, Marvel has previously incorporated things into the canon that they clearly didn’t plan at the time. Just recently, they decided that the kid Tony Stark saves in Iron Man 2 is actually Peter Parker, something they definitely weren’t thinking of in 2010.
The characters don’t have to already have their powers for this to be the case
If future movies establish that the Fantastic Four have already existed in this universe for some time, that would naturally raise some questions. For example, why haven’t they helped out the Avengers at all before? Why didn’t they have a role in the Infinity War?
But this could be explained by having the Leland Baxter Paper Company or another similar company purchase the building in Homecoming, and then, years from now, having the Fantastic Four enter the MCU and buying the top five floors. The Fantastic Four don’t necessarily have to be involved with the purchase in Homecoming.
Mentioning the name “Baxter” in the future movies would also be a great way of letting us know that the Fantastic Four are coming before actually introducing them. And it’s not too late to add a reference to Avengers 4 or even Infinity War.
Fantastic Four could be introduced shortly after Avengers 4
So when will the Fantastic Four actually be introduced on screen? It almost certainly will not happen until after Avengers 4. This Fox deal is going to take a while to go through, after all, and Avengers 4 is already filming.
One common idea among fans is for Marvel to introduce the Fantastic Four as S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists who went missing while on a mission long ago. But they return to Earth after the events of Avengers 4, having gained superpowers. We could see this either in an Avengers movie or in a proper Fantastic Four movie. But either way, that would allow Marvel to skip the origin story and differentiate itself from the 2015 version.
Having this movie come early in Phase 4 would also allow Marvel to use Dr. Doom as the “big bad” for the next era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, replacing its current antagonist, Thanos. This may be why Marvel has barely announced any titles in Phase 4 yet: because they knew a deal with Fox was potentially on the horizon.
Regardless of how it happens, it’s safe to say that thanks to this Fox sale, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will never be the same.
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