This year has seen Marvel's First Family get absolutely decimated. Their main title came to and end in "The End is Four-Ever," and their Ultimate universe counterpart came to a close as well (possibly last year or earlier, I don't keep track of the Ultimate universe to be honest). Then, of course, there was that bore-fest that has garnered a solid 9% on Rotten Tomatoes in Fan4stic.
Are they done for good?
I mean really all they have left is a pretty cool restaurant/arcade in Superhero Island at Universal Studios, Orlando, but even now that's going to be moved over to Disney, and I doubt it'll survive it's move over there, as Disney is going to implant as many Marvel Studios things as possible over there.
Certainly they'll live on in the hearts of comic fans. They're a legendary group. Everyone knows the Fantastic Four, they're a Marvel Entertainment staple. The sad fact is that the First Family couldn't keep up with the times. Remnants are living on, as Human Torch is going to start making many cameos in Spider-Man and "Inhuman" titles (since he's dating Medusa, what?).
But is it entirely possible for the Fantastic Four to bounce back to match the fame they hold sheerly off of legacy at this point? It might be, but, in the hands of one heck of a creative team and an even better story that'll blow the Marvel universe away...
Like "Secret Wars"...
However, there's issue with that. I won't claim to be a conspiracy theorist here, but I won't entirely deny that this is a possibility. Many would say that there's not a chance in Hades that the Fantastic Four will get a new comic book or series due to the fact that their characters do not belong to Marvel Studios, and therefore won't appear in big "Avengers" films and make big money, unlike the recent dealings with Spider-Man that will see him hanging out with his old pals Dr. Strange, Ant-Man, and Moon Knight.
Right Marvel? Moon Knight. You know, one of your best and most interesting characters.
Make it happen.
Anyway, Fantastic Four things.
I don't completely buy into that theory because that's not up to Marvel Entertainment. One might say that Marvel is creating so many Inhuman books because of the fact that the Inhumans are now joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I say they are because they finally have enough story potential for two Inhuman books. "All-New Inhuman" has been slated for release in December and is going to cover what the previous "Inhuman" book did in watching over the NuHumans, while "Uncanny Inhumans" is going to examine the relationships of the Royal Family, as well as Human Torch, as they integrate themselves on Earth after the big Terrigen bomb was dropped on the world last year. Really this is what should have been happening last year, but there was no established book.
Besides, Marvel has plenty of other non-MCU books out there. Look at the X-Men books still out there, who have some pretty incredible talent backing them (although, no "Old Man Logan" anymore to reunite Lemire and Sorrentino, what the heck?).
Going back to "All-New Inhumans," though, this book was announced separate from the December solicitations. "Fantastic Four" saw its end at around the same time many other Marvel books were given the axe. There's no telling what their plan are. Wolverine, as in James Logan, is still dead. And Thor, the SON of Odin, has no book. Marvel is changing things up wit popular characters.
This year's "Secret Wars" holds the key to it all. While not a perfect event comic, it is a cut above what the previous ones were, as this one has yet to be entirely disappointing. Not to mention Dr. Doom, who is originally an FF villain, is God in that book and is the major threat. The curious part, though? His biggest threat is Reed Richards. Reed is the only man smart enough alive (read Issue 4 to see why...RIP Sheriff) to contend with Doom, to outsmart him. As it has always been.
My hope, though I doubt this will happen, is that the final showdown will indeed be Reed and Susan Storm, with their kids, against Dr. Doom. After conquering him, probably by setting the Beyonders free to put the universe back into some sort of natural order, then maybe there will be a new Fantastic Four comprising of Reed, Sue, Valeria, and Franklin. Why else would Human Torch be hanging out with the Inhumans? Because he's not a direct part of the team anymore.
But that's all just speculation. In the end, like I said, it all depends on someone with some serious talent coming around to revitalize the group.
Now, in terms of film, I just don't know if there is a way to do a solid FF film. It's not in the style that superhero movies are done nowadays. Perhaps sending them into space to deal with the Skrulls or Shi'ar? I'm not sure. People are growing ill of Dr. Doom, but, they have so many different villains that are worth visiting. Apparently they have Kang.
You know, one of the biggest Avengers bads of all time. Kang.
I enjoyed the cast of the last film. They conveyed the genius needed to be members of the team, but not the fun or charisma that the characters have (though I believe that's more of a studio thing than an acting thing, so, kudos to them for even being likable in my eyes).
A good FF film will be one similar to Guardians of the Galaxy or Ant-Man. No need to take it particularly serious, just kick back and have fun. But be super heroes, not scientists. They use their science to aid their heroism, and are crime-fighters first and foremost. That's just how it's always been. Spider-Man uses his intellect to create webshooters to stop crime. Iron Man created his suit. The FF have made many leaps in scientific advancement already having their powers, why do the films often stop with their science--or just make it a repeat experiment--after they get their powers?
Also, the new film or whatever would have to drop the Thing asking to be changed back. It's really grown old and was seriously annoying in the last film...among many other things.
In summation: yes, it is entirely possible for the Fantastic Four to come back. But there would need to be considerably more effort into bringing them back than there would with a character that is gone like Wolverine or Thor, as right now, there is very little to like about them and there is very little going for them. If they come out on top in "Secret Wars" and the Richards are able to knock it out of the park (Valeria primed to take up her own major story arc in the final three issues it seems) then there is a chance for the comic to rise from the ashes either late this year or sometime next year. Film...doubtful that FOX would be dumb enough to push on with a sequel.
But I'd really hate to see this Marvel staple go out on as low a note as it is hitting now.