Risky Revelation: Fantastic Four’s Theory Resurrects MCU Controversy

The Fantastic Four is speculated to take place in an alternate reality in the vast multiverse, but this could repeat a divisive MCU Phase 4 moment.

Johnny Storm's Human Torch in The Fantastic Four poster with Doctor Strange traveling through alternate universes in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Marvel Studios may be about to repeat a controversial MCU Phase 4 moment in the upcoming The Fantastic Four reboot, if the project’s alternate universe theory turns out to be true. Marvel Studios has provided some major updates concerning The Fantastic Four in recent months, including confirming the primary cast for the Phase 6 project, and hinting at potentially world-changing storylines for the MCU. These teases have spurred major theories regarding Marvel Studios’ The Fantastic Four, with one of the most popular placing Marvel’s First Family in an alternate reality across the vast multiverse for their highly-anticipated debut MCU project.

Marvel Studios confirmed that Pedro Pascal, Vanessa Kirby, Joseph Quinn and Ebon Moss-Bachrach have been cast as the Fantastic Four on Valentine’s Day 2024, featuring the team in a poster that teased a potential 1960s setting for The Fantastic Four. Since then, Julia Garner has joined The Fantastic Four’s cast as Shalla-Bal’s Silver Surfer, and a new character poster has provided a closer look at Joseph Quinn’s Johnny Storm, a.k.a. the Human Torch. As well as raising excitement for The Fantastic Four, these updates have also given weight to a major theory that could pose a problem for Marvel Studios.

The Fantastic Four Reboot Will Take Place In Another Reality – Theory Explained

The Fantastic Four May Originate In A 1960s-Inspired Universe

Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Joseph Quinn, Vanessa Kirby and Pedro Pascal in first poster for the MCU's The Fantastic Four

The Fantastic Four’s suspected 1960s setting has prompted wild but convincing theories suggesting that the project could be set in an alternate universe, one based on a retro-futuristic 1960s style. This theory was supported in the Human Torch’s first character poster, which showed Joseph Quinn’s Johnny Storm flying around a city bearing no resemblance to any in the real world or in the world of the MCU. Julia Garner’s casting as Shalla-Bal also supports this theory, as Shalla-Bal wasn’t the Silver Surfer of Marvel Comics’ main continuity, but of that in 1999’s Earth X series, which explored stories on Earth-9997.

Setting The Fantastic Four in an alternate universe explains why the team hasn’t been seen or mentioned in the MCU’s main timeline, but also hints at a major storyline that could be explored in the upcoming project. The Fantastic Four must make their way into the main MCU continuity, but this means leaving their own world behind. This has caused speculation that a villain, perhaps the planet-eater Galactus, will destroy The Fantastic Four’s alternate Earth, forcing the team to evacuate to Earth-616. This would create an exhilarating debut for the Fantastic Four, but risks repeating a controversial Phase 4 twist.

Establishing Heroes In Another Reality Risks Repeating Doctor Strange 2’s Divisive Illuminati Scenes

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness Debuted Variant Heroes As Earth-838’s Illuminati

Patrick Stewart as Earth-838's Professor X in the Illuminati in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

If The Fantastic Four is set in an alternate universe, variant heroes could be introduced, similarly to the debut of Earth-838’s Illuminati in 2022’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Sam Raimi’s Phase 4 project featured the live-action MCU debuts of John Krasinski’s Reed Richards, Patrick Stewart’s Professor X, Lashana Lynch’s Captain Marvel, Anson Mount’s Black Bolt, Hayley Atwell’s Captain Carter and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Baron Karl Mordo as Earth-838’s Illuminati. While these introductions were very exciting, and fleshed out the MCU’s multiverse, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ Illuminati scenes became some of the MCU’s most divisive moments.

The fact that Earth-838’s Illuminati were massacred by the Scarlet Witch so quickly after being introduced didn’t sit well with many viewers. The Fantastic Four risks repeating these scenes if variant heroes are introduced as inhabitants of the project’s alternate universe. Since Galactus is speculated to be destroying the world of The Fantastic Four, or perhaps an incursion will destroy the entire universe, any new heroes that debut run the risk of being killed off without getting much development. While this is certainly a real possibility, Marvel Studios still has the opportunity to solve this problem before it even arises.

How The Fantastic Four Can Avoid Wasting Character Development With An Alternate Reality

The Fantastic Four Can Introduce Variants Of Heroes Viewers Already Know

John Krasinski as Earth-838's Mister Fantastic in the Illuminati in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

The biggest problem with killing off Earth-838’s Illuminati was rooted in the fact that all the group’s heroes were completely or relatively new to the MCU. Krasinski’s Mister Fantastic, Lynch’s Captain Marvel and Stewart’s Professor X were all making their MCU debuts, while Atwell’s Captain Carter had only been seen in animation, and Mount’s Black Bolt had made a previous appearance in the failed Marvel Television Inhumans series. Introducing these new heroes just to kill them off moments later felt like a complete waste, but The Fantastic Four can solve this problem by introducing variants of heroes audiences already know.

If variants of heroes that have already appeared pop up in The Fantastic Four’s alternate universe, killing them off at the end of the project wouldn’t be so much of a shock. The fact that the alternate Earth’s destruction will also likely happen later on means these variants could have The Fantastic Four’s entire duration to be developed, rather than only getting a few minutes of screen-time before being killed off. It’s possible that The Fantastic Four could repeat mistakes made by Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but Marvel Studios still has a chance to avoid these problems.

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