Despite the Marvel Cinematic Universe hosting a massive line of characters — such as the Avengers, Defenders, Guardians of the Galaxy and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — there’s still a sense that the MCU is somewhat incomplete. It’s hard not to think that way when you compare the Marvel comics to what’s actually playing in theaters and notice the absence of 3 big franchises from the Avengers-canon: Fantastic Four, Deadpool, and X-Men. These 3 franchises make up the FOX/Marvel stable, the only characters Marvel and Disney lack access to in terms of film and television, much to the dismay of most fans who want to see the characters finally reunited on the big screen.
Over the past couple months, rumors of a possible merger of properties have been intensifying. We don’t know for sure if this is a sign of things to come or just wishful thinking on the part of fans, but the dream does appear to be getting more and more real. I believe it’s time for us to consider the possibility that this merger is coming in the next few years and address a big question that coincides it. If and when these 3 are coming, how will they fit in the already established MCU? How do you address these characters’ existence all the sudden, and what stories will help aid their induction?
In this small series of 3 posts, I plan on going through each property one at a time to answer this question and discuss the possible methods Marvel Studios can use to induct these characters in the MCU. I will begin with the property which is both the easiest to implement and most likely to come back to the MCU: the Fantastic Four.
First, let’s get some details out of the way. Yes, I am aware of Marvel’s supposed shift away from the Earth-based heroes and towards the cosmic side of the MCU. This leads many to believe that there’s simply no place for the Fantastic Four in the MCU. However, just because Earth will be less of a factor in the future MCU doesn’t mean Earth won’t be a factor at all. Say all the Avengers are killed off in Avengers 4. You still have a handful of heroes, such as Black Panther, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man still on Earth. Unless all of them are moving to Mars or something, I doubt that Earth-based heroes will be entirely out of the picture.
However, if you still believe that there’s no place for them in the MCU, don’t worry. I have a way around that, too.
Now, when it comes to the Fantastic Four, I believe there are at least 4 ways to incorporate them into the MCU canon.
This first method is probably my favorite, because it allows the characters to interact with the movie cast (more on that later), and can be implemented anytime after Avengers 3: Infinity War. See, one of the big questions surrounding Avengers 3 is how Marvel expects to top Thanos as a villain in the future. He is one of Marvel’s most powerful villains after all.
Enter Galactus, destroyer of planets and eater of worlds. This guy right here is not only massive in size and power, he’s also closely associated with the Fantastic Four. In fact, some may recognize Galactus as the main villain of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. He was that big space cloud thing that irritated all the comic fans and was overall forgettable for everyone else involved.
Ideally, this would be best done between Infinity War and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Once Thanos officially falls, all you’d have to do is tease him in an end credit scene in, say, Avengers 4. This would give the series ample time to build a new heroes gallery if needed and introduce Marvel’s first family back on Earth. Maybe Reed Richards is the one to detect Galactus coming to Earth and leads the Earth-based heroes off-world, where they team up with the Guardians and other heroes.
2. Secret Wars
This is probably the most popular theory I’ve heard and for good reason. Secret Wars is one of the biggest Marvel events ever, and introduces the concept of alternate universes to the movie universe (other than Doctor Strange, of course). This is a brilliant way to work around having to retell the origin story yet again, because they would’ve already been established on another reality where the Fantastic Four do exist. You can also use this to bring back fallen characters like Quicksilver and even play around with alternate versions of the current characters if you really wanted to. And damn if this isn’t an awesome introduction for Doctor Doom, the ruler of Battleworld and instigator of the whole event (assuming its the 2015 version).
It’s a great idea for bringing the Fantastic Four into the fray, even temporarily. However, I believe that if you’re going to adapt Secret War, it shouldn’t be just to bring the Fantastic Four into the MCU. The opportunity is too big to not bring the X-Men with them. That is unless the mutants are a consequence of the Secret War, then sure. I just think you need at least a few more big names to be involved than just them. I’ll go more into this during the X-Men post.
3. Silver Surfer
Some say you shouldn’t introduce the Fantastic Four into the MCU, at least not for a while. They say the property needs a rest after Fant4stic bombed hard, and I don’t blame people for holding that opinion. So, why not try and introduce the IP slowly. Ease the first family into the MCU using the surrounding characters that come with them? And what better candidate than the Silver Surfer?
Not only is the Silver Surfer awesome, he is perhaps the only character attached to the team that has been positively received on film. He also happens to be a cosmic character, which totally fits with the proposed future of the MCU. Plus, by introducing the Silver Surfer before the Fantastic Four, you can potentially forego the origin story of the team by saying the Surfer already visited Earth and met them.
But where would he fit? If it were me in charge, I’d give him a small role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 followed by a solo film under FOX similar to what Marvel is doing with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Or, you know, just give him his own movie outright. I’m sure people would love to see a Silver Surfer movie.
If all else fails, you can always just bring them in Spidey-Style: a cameo in an already scheduled film, not too big but big enough to leave an impact, followed by a standalone film/TV show. It’s probably the most straightforward way to approach it, but it does come with some challenges. For example, where do you put them?
Currently there are 6 upcoming MCU films which we know the name of and are in development: Infinity War, Captain Marvel, Ant-Man & Wasp, Avengers 4, Inhumans, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. If the plan is to make them part of the movies, then you’re best bet would be introducing them in Avengers 4 or possibly the Inhumans. Ant-Man & Wasp may also be a decent place to introduce Reed Richards, but I wouldn’t recommend that.
This is all assuming that Disney wouldn’t simply relegate them to TV for now on. That would be slightly disappointing considering how the TV and movie characters don’t currently interact (no matter how much everyone wants them to). However, that’s not a terrible premise for a TV show. The family dynamic would be a great concept for something to accompany Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. on ABC. Unless they want to take a slightly darker route… On second thought, screw that! Just keep them away from Netflix.
Keep in mind, I’m not an avid comic book reader, so there may be a dozen more ways to adequately bring the Fantastic Four into the fray. These are just the storylines I’m familiar with and that I think would go well from a film perspective. By all means, if you know of a better way, whether you read the comics or not, let me know in the comments, because I’m very curious.
I wanted to start with the Fantastic Four because they are the most likely to come back to the MCU, and because it’s substantially easier to bring them into the MCU than the X-Men. We’ll cover how much harder that will be next time.
I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!