ByShannon McShortall, writer at
I have been reading comics since before I could read. When I learned how to read, they became significantly better.
Shannon McShortall

Recently there’s been a lot of buzz about The Fantastic Four allegedly going back to Marvel Studios in a new deal between Fox and Marvel (and getting a movie in 2020). For those who don’t understand the rights issues with Marvel characters in two different studios, refer to my piece HERE and, if you want to, the follow-up piece HERE. For even more on the behind-the-scenes stuff, check out my piece HERE. Basically, with an announcement that Fox would produce tv shows for the mutant Legion and the Hellfire Club, it was suggested that Fox would need to get tv rights from Marvel to do so. Speculation started to suggest that a deal was made to trade those tv rights for the Fantastic Four rights. Personally I don’t believe it because they wouldn’t risk it, and not a lot can come from those two tv series. They’d probably be fairly limited in their scope and a lot of people wouldn’t be interested. So far I’ve seen “confirmations” from both sides, but I’m here to argue why Fantastic Four SHOULDN'T go back to Marvel, or at least, why it’s not imperative they go back to Marvel.

Let me make this clear, I’m not in any way trying to undermine the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I think they’ve done a fantastic job. I do want to see all the Marvel characters together. I just think people are overreacting to the idea of the Fantastic Four coming to Marvel and hoping Marvel can make them better and more profitable. Here’s 5 reasons why I don’t believe that:

1. The Fantastic Four Aren’t Important to Any Future Storylines

Coming up next in the Marvel lineup in [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409). Aside from the fac that it’s basically impossible for them to show up at this point, they barely had anything to do with that anyway. Human Torch couldn’t decide what team he was on. He also spends the start of Civil War in a hospital bed. Thing couldn’t decide either and went to France to show how undecided he was. Reed and Sue had some troubles (which could easily be emulated with Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, with this idea of replacements being expanded on in my fifth point and in a few of my pieces I've already linked above). Reed, alongside Tony Stark, developed a killer robot that killed Goliath. Of course, Tony Stark could do that himself. Besides that, nothing much happened with them. Notice that all these events don’t affect the larger picture at all.

Then there’s the solo movies, none of which connect to Fantastic Four in anyway. Black Panther and Dr Strange have been affiliated with the Illuminati that Reed becomes involved in, but I highly doubt they’ll go down that path. In Infinity War, they’re pretty replaceable. In Planet Hulk, only Reed has a major part, and that could really go to any other Illuminati-filler character. Even in Secret Invasion, an event solely about of the core Fantastic Four villains, doesn’t really involve them in any major capacity. Their appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe will just be uncomfortable and awkwardly inserted.

To be fair though, they do have a minor role in the story of the Inhumans and that could lead to some interesting stories whenever Inhumans ends up coming out. But otherwise, Sue is useless. Johnny is useless. Ben is useless. Reed is just one of a group of smart and/or powerful guys, which includes MCU characters: Tony Stark, Steve Rogers (briefly), T’Challa/Black Panther, Stephen Strange/Doctor Strange, Hank Pym/the first Ant Man, Peter Parker/Spider Man and Bruce Banner/The Hulk. This doesn’t include other intelligent characters that could also fill this role, like Fitzsimmons from Agents of SHIELD or even someone like Scott Lang from Ant Man. Really, Reed’s search for the Ultimate Nullifier is the only way the Fantastic Four REALLY affect the Coming of Galactus, and if it’s a movie, I’d assume it’d end with all the Avengers dealing with it alongside the Fantastic Four in s fight against Galactus, thus making Reed’s fairly easy and short victory completely redundant.

There are events that they could be involved in, but those events involve the X-men in an incredible capacity. I’m sure the Onslaught saga would be great. In terms of Avengers vs X-men, one of the biggest crossover titles of recent years, that involved every type of character from so many different corners of the Marvel universe, except the Fantastic Four in any capacity.

2. The Fantastic Four Are Too Self-Contained

As I sort of mentioned before, the Fantastic Four are too self-contained. They’re too secluded. They go on adventures by themselves. Two of them spend almost the whole Civil War choosing sides. One of which remains neutral throughout. The other two have their own internal problems. When they get Black Panther and Storm as replacements for them, only then do they involve others.

While they do get others to help them out by becoming honorary FF members, they barely get involved with other parties unless absolutely imperative, and when they do, Sue does nothing. Reed is just another one of the token smart guys, while Ben and Johnny provide the interesting character dynamics as they do all the team-ups and hero vs hero fights. That's one half of the Fantastic Four that do all the connecting with other characters. As a whole though, they don't do much with the other characters at all.

When Spider Man fights Johnny in one of the first few Spider Man stories, the rest of the Fantastic Four sit and watch, only getting involved when Spider Man starts attacking them for watching him in a way he assumes is mocking. What I’ve always liked about that scene, besides the absurd irrationality of Spider Man, was that the Fantastic Four literally did what they ended up doing for years after: sitting on the sidelines watching.

3. The Fantastic Four Comics In The Past Few Years Have Been Sub-par. Nobody Cares About Them

As mentioned in my piece I linked earlier about Marvel Comics cancelling the Fantastic Four run in what the public perceived as a jab at Fox, I believe they did it because it was needed anyway. Fantastic Four hasn’t been very popular in recent years. Of course, this might come from the increasing connectivity of the titles and, as mentioned earlier, the Fantastic Four barely get involved. Right up until the late 80s, the Fantastic Four were on a great streak. They fell with the slump in comics that was the 90s, but they never came back from it. A few stories have stood out and the only real gem that stood out was the Ultimate Fantastic Four, which managed to be different with its rebooted nature.

Talking about reboots, the only other passable Fantastic Four-related thing past 1990 was, in my opinion, the recent Fantastic Four film. But that’s my personal opinion and I won’t get into that. The writers have tried to throw in drama, but nobody seems to care enough. Johnny will die in a way that makes nobody care. He’ll come back and nobody will care. Sue and Reed will form the Future Foundation, and nobody will care. They’ll leave the team and replace the key members with Ant Man, She Hulk, Medusa and Miss Thing running a school for gifted children and nobody will care. They even went to see God and nobody cared. What I’m trying to say is, it got cancelled for a reason. Not even the writers care about putting them in stories as a whole, as evidenced here:

So, obviously they're just a pain to write for. I'll come back to this point at the end. Can we just clarify here? The universally-recognised-as-boring character who spent most of his comicbook run as a secondary character or villain to the Fantastic Four and later the X-men, has appeared more than three quarters of them. Plus, it's not clear if this chart counts both Human Torches.

If Marvel gets the rights and makes the film, how would the casual viewer get into the comics? The comic run wouldn’t be happening presently and everything from the past two and a half decades has been pretty subpar. So where do they go but the hardly-relatable, distancing stories of the 80s or prior....

4. Marvel May Not Be Able to Have The Magic Touch With This One. Also, Casual Viewers Won’t Want To See It

Marvel have shown they have the magic touch with anything, but maybe Fantastic Four is where their luck/skill runs out. We’ve seen that Fantastic Four has never worked in liveaction. The Roger Corman film wasn’t even released it was so horrendous. The Tim Story films were critically panned, while the newest (and by far the strongest) Fantastic Four film had people prepped for disappointment so much that they allowed it to ruin itself, as I’ve talked about HERE, HERE and HERE . Now, assume you’re a casual viewer who has only experienced the previous films. You don’t know about the rights or what/who is good. You just watch films that look good. I’ll tell you what WON’T look good? ANOTHER FANTASTIC FOUR FILM!!!

5. Their Relative Positions Have Already Been Filled. They Won’t Bring Anything New To The Table. Only Their Villains Will Be Different.

The Fantastic Four are pretty replaceable. I’ve mentioned before, they have their roles. They’re just a family. What will Reed bring to the table that we haven’t seen before in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, besides the visual of stretching powers? For that matter, what will Johnny bring? His playboy attitude? Hello Tony Stark! (coincidentally one of the Reed Richards substitutes as well) His fun demeanour? Except that Spidey is coming next year. There’s ALREADY an Inhuman that can melt things in Agents of SHIELD, and fire powers have been shown with Scorch. Sue can repel things with forcefields, as can Scarlet Witch. She can turn invisible, just like the soon-to-come Doctor Strange, among others. Her role as the mother/wife can also be fulfilled by so many of the female characters. The Thing is basically a rocky, more controlled, weaker Hulk. Also, we’ve seen rock creatures in Thor 2 already. Their villains, as I’ve explained in a previous piece that I’ve linked, are a bit harder though. They CAN be replaced, but there’s no need when they could be used and still provide something unique. Not that we need them with the immense roster of villains Marvel has to choose from, although Doctor Doom might still be cool.

Getting back to point 3 and summing up, why would a writer want to take the Fantastic Four on? They're difficult to write for. Only 4 Fantastic Four films have been made, and all have been badly received. Meanwhile in the comics, the stories have deteriorated massively from their original quality all those years ago. It got so bad that in the new Marvel lineup, Sue Storm and Reed Richards are two of the only characters not present. Meanwhile, low-level characters like Silk, Karnak, Drax, Spider Gwen, Angela, Howard the Duck and Squadron Supreme among others, are getting titles (linked again HERE). They're barely shoehorned into events and they're too separated from other characters. Plus, why risk all this when the Fantastic Four won't bring anything new anyway?

So what do you think? Should the Fantastic Four go back to Marvel Studios and connect with the other characters in what should only be a minor capacity (to facilitate the universe and to be like the comics), or should Fox try their luck again? Let's talk about it in the comments!

Thanks for reading!


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