So I know I usually stick to movie and TV reviews (and recently lengthy tournaments) but I thought I’d try something new by getting this idea which has been rattling around my head down on virtual paper and, after all, one of the perks of being editor-in-chief is that you can greenlight whatever takes your fancy, so here we go: on the eve of the end of Phase Three of the MCU’s Infinity Saga, I thought I’d have a bit of fun by outlining how I would introduce the newly reacquired Fantastic Four to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And, borrowing an idea from “Captain Marvel”, I’m going to suggest they’ve been around for a long time!
The movie would open in the early sixties as scientist Reed Richards marries his sweetheart Susan Storm, with his best friend Ben Grimm acting as his best man. At the wedding reception, we’re then introduced to Sue’s hot-headed playboy brother Johnny Storm (Zac Efron) and the scene is set.
Reed and Sue work in research posts at Stark Industries but shortly after his marriage to Sue, Reed Richards receives a job offer from a Latverian research firm offering him unlimited resources and a private facility in downtown New York to further his work on interdimensional travel, research which Howard Stark has already decided to stop funding.
The Richards move into the Baxter Building (the future site of Avengers tower possibly?) where Reed continues his research. During the night, a mysterious figure (Victor Von Doom) visits Reed’s lab and inspects the work as it progresses, accidentally making some minor adjustments the very night before Reed has decided to conduct his first full-power portal test.
With Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm present to help with the test, things are going well until the amendments made by Victor Von Doom the night before cause the experiment to run out of control, causing a massive dimensional implosion, destroying the upper half of the Baxter Building but leaving no debris. During the emergency inspections which follow, some of the superstructure collapses on Victor Von Doom, causing catastrophic injuries which he insists on being flown home to Latveria to have treated (we’re going to save Doom for the sequel and a much larger role in the wider MCU).
In the meantime, the remains of the top of the Baxter Building materialise in a weird alien landscape, where Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben are unconscious as waves of energy flow around and into their bodies. Their unconscious bodies are picked up by henchmen and taken to a palace where we meet the villain of the piece: Annihilus. The Fantastic Four have been transported to the Negative Zone due to the implosion of Reed’s experiment and the uncontrolled dimensional transition has saturated their bodies with cosmic radiation.
Annihilus is at first a kind and genial host, using his Control Rod to stabilise the effects of the cosmic radiation (at first, the powers will be interchangeable and variable so we see each of the four dabbling with a variety of powers) but once Annihilus learns of the existence of the other universe, his intrigue turns to ambition and he imprisons the four of them while he prepares an invasion of the normal universe.
Imprisoned for weeks, they learn to use their powers properly and the four eventually manage to escape from Annihilus’ dungeons, making some allies along the way – including Blastaar – and return to the Baxter Building where they discover the research has been ransacked. Realising Annihilus plans to use Reed’s own technology to reopen a portal back to Earth, the Fantastic Four must embrace their new abilities and find a way to stop him.
After an action-packed raid on Annihilus’ fortress which sees Annihilus defeated but not dead and the invasion force locked in another pocket dimension, Reed is unable to stop the portal from opening but figures out a way to rig it to self-destruct after giving them just enough time to get through to Earth.
The portal opens in Central Park in New York and as the Four step through, they’re greeted by a group of Avengers (Spider-Man, Captain Marvel etc) who had come to investigate the spatial anomaly. Common sense prevails and there’s no fight but Reed is astonished to discover it’s nearly sixty years since they all vanished, time moving very differently in the Negative Zone.
In a final twist, by the power of compound interest, what money the four had in the 1960s has now accrued to the point where they are able to purchase the recently vacated Avengers Tower and re-christen it The Baxter Building. But down in the foundations, something is rising from beneath the ground (to tease the Moleman for the sequel)
Mid-Credits Stinger: In Latveria, an embittered and aged Victor Von Doom, kept alive and relatively youthful by a metal exoskeleton based on crudely copied Stark technology and some more esoteric age-inhibiting innovations of his own design, watches the news of their miraculous return.
Casting-wise, it’s hard to resist the lure of an all-star main cast so despite how obvious it might seem:
Reed Richards/ Mister Fantastic: John Krasinski* or Henry Golding or John Hamm
Sue Storm/ The Invisible Woman: Emily Blunt* or Natalie Dormer or Adrianne Palicki
Johnny Storm/ The Human Torch: Zac Efron** or Josh Hutcherson or Will Poulter
Ben Grimm/ The Thing: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson** or Stanley Tucci or David Harbour
*Obvious casting, I know.
**Based on their Baywatch chemistry, one of the few good things about that movie and absolutely on-point for Ben/ Johnny
Victor Von Doom/ Doctor Doom: Bryan Cranston (1960s set scenes using Marvel’s de-aging tech) or Matthias Schoenaerts
Annihilus: Doug Jones (probably get him to do performance capture for The Thing too if Tucci gets the role) or Riz Ahmed
Blastaar: Terry Crewes or Ron Perlman or Liev Schreiber
As for Director, I’d give it to Jay Roach to infuse the Marvel action and adventure with a little of that Austin Powers swagger.
So there you have it, my treatment for an MCU Fantastic Four movie and a few casting notes. Kevin Feige, if you’re reading this, call me – we’ll set up a lunch!
Would you want to watch that movie? Have I jumped the shark? What plot points or characters would you want to see in the first Fantastic Four movie? How would you introduce the Fantastic Four into the MCU? Who would you cast? Let me know in the comments!