How They Should: Bring The Fantastic Four Into The MCU

So, the Fantastic Four. The first family of Marvel haven't had the best of times when it comes to transitioning to the big screen. The first two films were... let's be polite and say not very good and the reboot was somehow even worse. Meanwhile, Marvel have been building their own cinematic universe and it's been pretty good, even managing to incorporate Spider-Man, another icon who seemed forever lost in filmatic purgatory. So, assuming either Fox can come to a Sony-esque deal with Disney or the rights revert back to Marvel, let's take a look at how Marvels first super-team could make their way into the MCU.

1. Drip Feed References

Just dumping a Fantastic Four film onto audiences won't do the project any good. The name has very little value with the mainstream audience after the disaster that was the last film. So, ideally you want to build hype. Now Marvel are very, very good at this, they gave references to Black Panther back in the second Iron Man movie (pictured above) and the first Captain America movie before going on all out trip to Wakanda in Age of Ultron and then revealing the character in Civil War to set him up for his solo movie debut. So, I'd suggest something similar with the Four. Start off small, maybe have Peter Parker visit the Baxter Building on a school field trip in Homecoming. Then in Infinity War have Bruce Banner reference Reed Richards research (not by name) as something that could possibly help against Thanos. Set it up that Richards was researching cosmic energy and the possibility of parallel universes but disappeared over a decade ago along with his family and research partner. Maybe make more references in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D to flesh it out for the hardcore MCU fans. And then finally, at the end of a future film, have the post credits scene be S.H.I.E.L.D monitoring for any potential anomalies that could pose a threat and they pick up on one coming from a nearby location.

2. Origin Story?

So, how I'd start the movie off is by flashing back to 2008, approximately a decade before the film is set (give or take 2-5 years). Here we meet our principle characters, Reed Richards, Sue Richards (not Storm, Richards, they should already be married), Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm. Reed is conducting his experiment into trying to replicate the energy of the Tesseract in his lab in the Baxter Building (which is owned by S.H.I.E.L.D), Sue and Ben are assisting him (Ben being the lab assistant and Sue is also a scientist), whilst Johnny is just their to visit his sister. The lab is closing down for the night and we see everyone else leaving. The team are shutting down the experiment for the night and Sue is leaving the lab with Johnny (who has been watching from the observation platform) whilst Ben and Reed shut down the equipment. However, something goes wrong during the shut down and the equipment reacts, creating an energy similar to the Tesseract and producing the same effect, a wormhole. The four are sucked in (Ben first, as he is the closest to the machinery, the Reed, then Johnny and finally Sue). The wormhole sucks up a lot of stuff from the lab and finally shuts down when it destroys the main console that controls the equipment, leaving the lab dead.

3. Fast Forward.

We then skip ahead to the present and to Maria Hill, who is our designated Coulson for this story. She has taken over what remains of S.H.I.E.L.D and has set up a team to monitor any potential alien threats and/ or anomalies, stationed in an older, formerly abandoned S.H.I.E.L.D safe-house. We then have the post-credits scene from the previous film, where they get a reading from near their location and the wormhole reopens close-by. It shakes the building, but otherwise closes very quickly. The S.H.I.E.L.D agents scramble to find out what is going on but another bigger wormhole opens. Of course, from this wormhole emerge the four missing people, who don't look much older than they did in the flashback, we'd be talking exactly the same if it wasn't for the signs of unkemptness (think someone who'd been stranded on an island for a week or so). They are immediately surrounded by S.H.I.E.L.D Agents and it's at this point that Maria Hill tells them that they've been missing for over a decade.

4. Science!

The four are taken to the medical wing for a check up, but show now immediate adverse signs and so are kept under observation in the S.H.I.E.L.D base. Maria Hill sits down with the team to question them about what happened. This gives Reed a change to science talk and he can get some of the plot points out of the way after Maria Hill has brought him up to speed on recent happenings (i.e. time runs slower in the dimension the team were trapped in (The Negative Zone, obviously) so what was 10 years on Earth was only around a week for them, and the wormhole reopened due to the effect Thanos' use of the Infinity Guantlet had on the fabric of reality). However, whilst Reed and Maria are having their little exposition section, more readings start to come in from random points on the globe, all bearing the same energy signature as the wormhole. At the same time, the team start to mutate. Ben goes first, transforming into The Thing, in the corridor outside the room Reed and Maria are in. Johnny accidentally sets a piece of paper on fire before spontaneously combusting himself. Then a huge wormhole opens up above the base, causing it to basically disintegrate. Here, we see Reed and Sue's powers as Reeds hands expand to catch the falling ceiling and Sue throws up a force-field to protect herself from debris. The wormhole closes as suddenly as it opened and the base is in tatters. Maria Hill asks Reed to explain what happened but he's more preoccupied with what happen to him and his friends. He demand Maria let him run tests using the S.H.I.E.L.D equipment, but it's mostly been destroyed by the base collapsing. Reed has to improvise using what is left of the scanning equipment.

5. A New McGuffin

Maria Hill gets her Agents to assess the damage to the base, whilst Ben has a quite serious case of being-turned-into-a-rock-induced-mental-breakdown, which Reed Sue and Johnny have to deal with. The damaged scanners are too broken for Reed to get any sort of readings from them and he requests that Maria take him to his lab. However, that isn't possible because all of the equipment was dismantled and put into storage after the incident. At this point, one of the Agents returns, having found a large cylindrical implement in the grounds of the base, which is glowing and giving off a strange energy, the Cosmic Control Rod. Reed realises that it must have fallen through the wormhole and it is giving off the same energy as the Negative Zone. He convinces Maria Hill to take him to where his old equipment is stored on the basis that he may be able to use it to prevent anymore wormholes opening up and letting anything else through. They then travel to the Baxter Building, with Ben having to go in the back of a van because he's too big and heavy to fit in a car.

6. Enter Annihilus

So, once they get to the Baxter Building, they head straight for the basement, which is where the storage area is. They collect all of Reeds equipment (maybe a good time to throw in some references to other Marvel heroes that haven't made it to the big screen or are affiliated with S.H.I.E.L.D, maybe Quasar's guantlets perhaps). Together the team cart the equipment back up to Reeds lab (mostly by the goods elevator with Ben carrying some stuff by the stairs because he's too heavy for the elevator, because that was a pretty good joke) and they rebuild the machinery with the aid of the agents. This can give some more time to show off the teams powers, with Reed stretching to reach awkward places and Johnny welding using his finger. However, just as they finish, The Cosmic Control Rod reacts and another wormhole appears. And from this one, a large, insectoid creature appears, Annihilus. Everything goes into panic stations as Annihilus smashes through the window and grabs the Rod. The team try to stop him, but are unable to because they aren't working as a team and don't know how to use their powers in this sort of situation yet. Johnny even gets thrown out the smashed window for his troubles and Reed is unable to grab him even with his stretching ability. It is at this point that Johnny realises that he can fly and does the flame on for the first time. However, by the time he's got back to the lab, Annihilus is gone.

7. The End Is Nigh

Annihilus starts opening numerous wormholes around New York City, allowing hundreds of his minions through. Maria Hill calls in an Emergency and the army is called in. Meanwhile, Reed surmises that the Rod can open wormholes to the negative zone and if it isn't stopped it could destroy the fabric of reality. Maria Hill tells him to leave it to the army, but it's obvious that the army is out-matched. The wormholes start expanding and sucking up stuff like they did in the flashback at the start of the film. Meanwhile Annihilus is going crazy above New York, blasting tanks with the Rod. Maria Hill laments not having the Avengers to help in this situation and then Ben turns to Reed and tells him that they should go help, which Reed is unsure about. Johnny is all for it but it falls to Sue to convince Reed.

8. It's Clobberin' Time

Now this bit depends on how "comic-book" you want to get. You can either have Johnny try to lure Annihilus to the ground so the whole team can take him on or you can have them go back down to storage and fish out one of Reeds prototype levitating transports (aka a prototype Fantasticar) in order to get everyone up there and have Ben drop onto Annihilus forcing him to the ground like a rock (literally). Either way, once Annihilus is one the ground the team work together to wrestle the Rod away from him, Ben doing his clobberin' thing, Sue putting up barriers to block out/ in drones, maybe doing a few cool little tricks with them, Reed wraps himself around the villain to let the rest of the team get their hits in and Johnny providing clean up duties on the drones, flaming them out and dropping a few fire balls in on Annihilus as well. However, Annihilus still breaks out, sending the team flying with blasts from the Rod and tries to fly away through a wormhole, but Ben grabs him by the leg and slams him into the floor. Annihilus turns to zap Ben with the Rod... but it's gone. A few steps away Sue becomes visible again, holding the Rod in her hand. She throws it to Johnny who flies away as Annihilus struggles to get away from Ben. Reed uses the levitating transport to get back to his lab with the Rod, whilst Sue uses her barriers to create a parameter around Ben and Annihilus as they fight.

9. A Fantastic Team

The wormholes become even more unstable and start sucking up all the knocked out/ dead drones as Reed makes the final touches to his machine. Meanwhile, Annihilus has beaten Ben and is trying to break out of the barrier, which is putting huge stress on Sue. Fortunately, Reed finishes just as Sue's barrier breaks and the wormholes close, sucking up Annihilus in the process. Sue is saved from being sucked in by Johnny, who flies in at the last second to stop her. Maria Hill congratulates Reed, who brushes her off in order to rush to see that his wife is alright. You then have the team success moment, where they realise what they've done and they are surrounded by members of the general public and the press. It is at this point where Johnny Storm announces the team to the world, giving them all names (The Human Torch, Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Woman and The Thing) and we end on him saying the team name, The Fantastic Four.

10. Post-Credits

Now, call this fanservice if you want but I would really really like to have one person appear in a post-credits scene for this film. Provided he isn't killed off in Infinity War, I'd have one post-credits scene be of Steve Rodgers meeting the Fantastic Four, because come on it's just the perfect set up. You could even say it would be a passing of the Torch...

But for the more serious post-credits scene, we travel to a castle in the Eastern European country of Latveria. We see an official looking gentleman, an aide or a diplomat of some description bursting through the large wooden double doors of a great hall. He rushes along its length, the person he is approaching obscured from view. He presents a newspaper, the front cover of which shows the Fantastic Four, and says "Sir, he has returned". And it is then that we see the face, or rather the mask, of the person in question. That person being, of course, Doctor Doom.

Few things I'll clear up before we go. Firstly, having Reed Richards working for S.H.I.E.L.D in the flashback. I thought it would be cleaner to have him be experimenting with the Tesseract as a means of getting the team into the Negative Zone as it is an already established thing within the MCU that has known portal opening abilities. For him to get his hands on it, he'd need to have some involvement with S.H.I.E.L.D. It also doesn't interfere with the MCU timeline because Eric Selvig would have been hired after Reed's disappearance. Also, the disappearance of the team would go unnoticed and mostly forgotten by S.H.I.E.L.D due to Tony Starks escape from captivity, hence the 2008 date on the flashback. Plus, it gives the secondary character/ primary exposition giver (Maria Hill) some prior knowledge of the main characters and a reason to actually trust them to begin with. Secondly, Reed and Sue being already married. We've had two movies of them at the point where the are getting married and one where they are first meeting, so why not just get that out of the way. It gives a different dynamic between them than any other romantic leads in the MCU, so it'll be something different and besides, they've spent more time married in the comics than they did before getting married.  Thirdly, Annihilus over Doctor Doom. So, the Fantastic Four reboot really should have had Annihilus as the main villain. Doctor Doom is hugely important in terms of the Marvel Universe (hence why he is in the post-credits scene), but he isn't the only F4 villain and after 3 films, he's a bit worn out. As I didn't want to go with the solar flare origin story (which would seem a bit contrived considering that alien invasions of Earth have happened in the MCU at this point, that whole origin doesn't really fit the timeline), so I went with the Negative Zone as the source of the teams powers, which made Annihilus the most logical choice for villain.

So, that's my idea. I will admit that the final battle may be a bit too close to the Avengers, so it may have to loose the drone army, but what do you guys think? How would you like to see the Fantastic Four introduced into the MCU? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

And with that.

JR out.

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5 Responses to How They Should: Bring The Fantastic Four Into The MCU

  1. William A. Peterson says:

    Uhmmmm…. Sorry, J.R., but… YUCK!
    The last thing a Fantastic Four reboot needs is a whole heaping pile of bad mistakes piled on top of all the previous mistakes!
    First, you’re doing Ultimates Fantastic Four, which is exactly what caused the Third movie to bomb so badly… Okay, you’re making some changes, but mostly only to tie them in with SHIELD.
    Does SHIELD really need to control EVERY Superhero in the MCU?
    {Sorry, I was on Cap’s side in the comics version of Civil War}
    If you’re going to explain that the FF have been gone for awhile, why not do it right?
    They tried to go to the Moon, ran into Cosmic Rays, were transformed, became Superheroes, discovered the Negative Zone… all back in the 1960s, and THEN disappeared!
    You’ve got a team of respected Superheroes, all from another, different time…
    WHO ELSE are you going to send to talk to them, but Captain America? 😉
    But, maybe they have to do the Sliders thing, first…
    “The Cubs have won the World Series? America’s elected a Fascist? Stretcho, this CAN’T be OUR Earth!”
    THEN, you have the big bads show up DURING the Infinity War, so the Avengers can’t show up *too* early… Our heroes do what heroes always do, and then Cap comes to explain to them what’s happened while they’ve been gone (briefly). Perhaps he wants Dr. Richards to help him with another alternative to the Avengers Initiative… 😉

  2. JR19759 says:

    @William A. Peterson- Ok. Further explanation time.
    1. SHIELD are there because of the plot device that is the Tesseract, which SHIELD had at the time and wouldn’t allow anyone else to go anywhere near. It is currently the only item in the MCU that is shown to open wormholes, so it is the best fit for this story. We also need someone to be able to bring the team up to speed on what is happening without it feeling like a really forced cameo (Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr.).
    2. The problem I have with doing it the way you describe is how high profile it makes everything. You’re basically saying that these guys become American heroes by joining in the space race, make a MASSIVE scientific discovery and then disappear to never be mentioned again until convenient? Last time I checked people still talk about and remember the space race and it’s notable when anyone who went to space dies, so people might remember that an entire crew went missing, whilst on Earth. And if he’s working on a way to open wormholes in the public sector, not for the government or the military, that’s like the LHC times 1000. Can you imagine how big of a news story it would be if the LHC opened a wormhole and 4 scientists went missing? Ant Man’s retcon worked because he was, quite literally, a small time hero. You’re giving these guys an origin on a nation scale. It would also require a film in of its self, unless you really want to rush everything to fit it in for a intro-credits montage. And, really, Captain America is the only hero whose origin is intrinsically tied to a time period. Iron Man’s origin in the comics was set in Vietnam. Bruce Banner ended up turning into the Hulk because his lab assistant was a communist spy. Neither of those made it into the MCU, they got updated to fit with the times. And we’ve all got to admit, deep down, we know that most of the great superhero origin stories from the Silver Age just don’t work anymore. You cannot get super speed from getting struck by lightning, gamma radiation is more likely to give you cancer than turn you into a huge green rage monster, as is getting bitten by a radioactive spider and you most definitely don’t want to fly an untested spacecraft into space when it is crewed by a scientist, an ex-marine, an actress and a college student. Transplanting the team from the 60’s to now would really screw with the characterization, especially Johnny Storm, who’s meant to be the cool one, the one the kids relate to. But how well do you think the current generation are going to relate to a guy who thinks the “in” words are still “Hip” and “Groovy” because he’s skipped the last 50 years. At least 10 years there’s some connection as everyone watching will be able to remember what life was like a decade ago. Oh and no-one wants to see Reed struggle to get to grips with an iPhone. In the 60’s computers barely existed, how is a guy, even a guy as smart as Reed, going to go from a room full of wires and massive processors to a touch screen with more power than the lunar lander without difficulty?
    3. There’s no way that this could run concurrent to Infinity War, simply because Marvel won’t have the rights back by then or have a deal in place and shooting done by the time Infinity War is out. That’s not a stylistic choice, that’s just a fact.

    Oh and what made the reboot fail so badly was, the director didn’t know what he was doing, the cast were miscast, the studio interfered and they chose the wrong villain. Oh and the sfx were the equivalent of my last bowel movement.

  3. William A. Peterson says:

    Nothing personal, JR, but I got most of what you were trying to do, and just didn’t like ANY of it! Not saying YOU can’t (Creators are usually expected to like what they have created, after all), but it did nothing for me.
    You want the tesseract involved in this story that will never occur, because Fox will never let the rights lapse, because Fox HATES Superheroes, and I do not.
    Having the UNIVERSE all tie together, great, but tying each and every movie together by means of Deus Ex Machina leaves me cold.
    You don’t want Infinity War involved, fine, I could do it some other way, but what else is going to be more confused, and allow our “Heroes of Yesterday” slip in almost unannounced? Do we really have to wait for Prince Namor to get his own movie before they return? 😉
    And, please…
    Reed Richards struggle with an I-phone? “Clearly, someone must have FINALLY found my notes on improving communications in third-world countries, Sue! Though, they seem to have left out a few features…” 😀

  4. Herr D says:

    I do imagine Reed Richards being stunned, but getting the hang of an iPhone faster than I will someday.

    Another interesting update would be that the ‘4’ happen as a RESULT of the New York wormhole. RR would have been contracted out of SpaceX by Defense Department lawyers. They were just too worried he’d accomplish something dangerous based on his past. Sue would’ve gnashed about not going into contract law because it would help extricate her beau. Her brother would’ve shown up half-drunk while Sue’s uncle, a retired Navy pilot gotten rich in the salvage business, was bemoaning not ever becoming an astronaut.

    Her bro is just half-drunk, being an idiot, when he lets slip that his stuntboat has been ruined by a large unknown-alloy chassis landing on it during the NY event. He sees nothing but a cancelled event damaging his own celebrity lifestyle.

    Sue and uncle look at each other. For once their problems dovetail into a solution. The uncle runs a quick salvage op for the chassis. Sue bases her work on work she’s seen Reed do. They can’t get the brother to promise to shut up unless he comes along, has a chance to prove himself later during flight mishaps. They have a spaceship. They essentially mentally kidnap Reed, reasoning with him that without him, the Defense Department won’t be properly represented. Victor Von Doom threatens to blow the whistle unless included because the debris was partly within ‘his countries’ property’ (island consulate) and throws in an island lab outside of U.S. jurisdiction to sweeten the pot. They go up to examine a geosynchronous anomaly generated by the NY event . . . from there they disappear for a year.

  5. The Atomic Punk says:

    I appreciate how well-thought out your plots are JR. Especially trying to fit them into the MCU. Wily Pete provides a good critique. For my part, Annihilus would be a welcome replacement for Doctor Doom. Agent Hill is a great stand-in for Coulson. Herr D has a role for Doom as a foreign investor which sets him up as a future antagonist.

    I would still put the FF’s origin in space not a lab. The team could be on the first manned mission to Mars when they run into cosmic rays. Maybe they are testing a rocket equipped with a power source reverse-engineered from the Tesseract. The engine explodes and sucks them into the Negative Zone. The cosmic rays could be the Bifrost, sheer accident that the FF’s ship runs into Asgardians travelling to or from earth.

    As JR notes, Marvel updates heroes’ origins with the times. The space adventure would place them at the scene of the Battle of New York. Give reason for them to go. You wouldn’t need the Negative Zone to explain their prolonged absence. Instead, use it for one last scene on earth that was triggered by the cosmic rays: Red Skull stepping through a wormhole.