Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness finally pushed the concept of alternate realities into the forefront, and it didn't disappoint. Aside from featuring many different worlds, the Benedict Cumberbatch-led sequel properly introduced another Earth filled with heroes in the form of Earth-838. In this world, a version of the Illuminati exists, comprising of notable members such as Patrick Stewart's Charles Xavier, Maria Rambeau's Captain Marvel, Hayley Atwell's Captain Carter, Anson Mount's Black Bolt, Chiwetel Ejiofor's Baron Mordo, and John Krasinki's Mister Fantastic.
Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff killed all but one (Mordo) member of Earth-838's Illuminati in the movie. Despite that, seeing the characters' debut is already a monumental moment for the MCU, and one of those cameos has been a long time coming.
John Krasinski - Mister Fantastic: A Fan-Casting for the Ages
John Krasinski has long been attached to the role of Reed Richards, and seeing him make a surprise appearance as the Marvel hero in the sequel is a dream come true for fans. As early as April 2020, rumors of Krasinski's MCU debut emerged online, with the actor reportedly involved in a meeting with Marvel Studios for a "multitude of projects." Back then, a Fantastic Four movie had yet to be announced, but fans speculated that the actor would be cast as Reed.
Fast forward to Multiverse of Madness, theories became a reality when Krasinski's Reed Richards entered the scene. While Marvel Studios pulled off the unimaginable by casting the veteran actor, it tragically ended quickly when the Scarlet Witch turned the hero into spaghetti.
However, some fans have theorized that Krasinski's Marvel stint is not a one-off, with the sequel serving as the launchpad for the actor to play the MCU's version of Reed Richards. The veteran actor/director has since embraced the fan casting of himself as the leader of the Fantastic Four, with him admitting that he was down to play the role even before the sequel:
"I think I felt, it’s like I was trying to sometimes over calculate how much I’ve talked about certain things. And then you get older and you just go, 'I don’t know, I’m going to be honest.' And my honest answer was like, 'Hell yeah. I’d play Mr. Fantastic.' And then people were like, 'Oh my God.' And I didn’t know it would be headlines. I thought it would just be the eighth question in that interview. But it’s true."
At this point, a one-off appearance is not the typical direction that Marvel Studios would go for, considering the overwhelmingly positive reception to Krasinski's involvement.
Will John Krasinski Portray the MCU's Mister Fantastic?
John Krasinski is 42 years old, and in Marvel Comics, the character Reed Richards is right around his 40s, so casting Krasinski again for the Earth-616 version of the character would be ideal.
Earth-838 could hold the clues when it comes to the possibility of seeing Krasinski back in the MCU. On that Earth, several characters in the Illuminati were played by the same actors who portrayed the roles in the MCU and even Marvel TV (Black Bolt). In addition, other Variants of Doctor Strange and Earth-838's Wanda were also played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen respectively. These correlations could actually improve the chance that Krasinski is actually playing 616's Reed Richards.
Moreover, Loki already established a connection between Jonathan Majors' He Who Remains and John Krasinski's Mr. Fantastic. Aside from the fact that Kang is a descendant of Reed Richards from the comics, the portal technology that the Time Variance Authority and Mister Fantastic used is quite the same. The TVA's portal technology and Richards' portal seen in Multiverse of Madness are both quadrilateral-shaped and translucent in design, seemingly hinting that the 616 version developed the same tech that eventually inspired Kang.
Doctor Strange 2 head writer Michael Waldron played coy about the possibility of seeing Krasinski as the MCU's Reed Richards, saying that "it’s a question for somebody else." Still, the Marvel writer mentioned that he worked closely with the actor to figure out how Richards would be portrayed on-screen, considering that he had no precedent in the franchise.
This means that Krasinski's brief yet memorable portrayal has already set the benchmark for who Reed Richards is, meaning that it would be easier to follow if he makes a proper comeback in Phase 4's Fantastic Four movie as the main Variant of the character in Earth-616.
In a saga where the Multiverse exists, it's safe to assume that fans will likely understand that the actor is playing an entirely different character if he returns. Given that the Doctor Strange sequel featured Krasinski as a Reed Richards who has a beard, the easy fix would be the MCU's Variant not having any to easily differentiate the two versions.
All in all, based on these clues, it's reasonable to assume that Krasinski could end up becoming the leader of the Fantastic Four in the MCU. Perhaps Krasinki will return as the Earth-616 Reed Richard and establish the Fantastic Four of that universe.
Alternatively, the mention of Reed's wife and kids, aka Sue Storm, Franklin Richards, and Valeria Richards, could be teasing an alternate take on the idea of the Fantastic Four. Perhaps the MCU's lineup will be slightly different in the prime universe, comprising Reed's family in a similar set-up to The Incredibles, with Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm playing more side character roles. This would make for a more distinct incarnation of the team and set it apart from the cinematic renditions that have come before.
If not, there are other ways to honor the casting.
How the MCU Explores Earth-838's Fantastic Four (Theory)
If Marvel Studios pulls out all the stops in fully revealing a Secret Wars crossover (presumably Avengers 5) in the near future, then another Earth could soon be featured prominently in upcoming projects. Earth-838 could be the ideal candidate, considering its major role in Multiverse of Madness.
In the comics, Secret Wars revolves around an incursion event in which two universes are destroyed. It's possible that Earth-616 and Earth-838 are the two worlds that will be involved in that crossover, raising the stakes for all the heroes and villains (yes) involved.
Dealing with a Multiverse Saga needs to actually focus on not just one Earth, but several different worlds as well. One way to do it is to focus on the aftermath of Wanda's murder spree on Earth-838, potentially highlighting the universe's remaining members of the Fantastic Four.
A solo project mainly set in Earth-838 could be unveiled, exploring the backstory of Krasinski's Reed Richards and his team. Doing this would give fans an idea of how this Richards Variant came to be the "smartest man on the planet" and his past adventures with the Fantastic Four and hints about how the Illuminati was formed. While this could be a long shot, this would allow fans to be more familiar with Earth-838, meaning that some could root for them when Secret Wars officially arrives.
Given that the MCU is still leaning toward interconnectivity, finding a way to connect Earth-838's Fantastic Four with the impending arrival of the MCU's superhero team would be a unique approach for their introduction. It's possible that Earth-838's Sue Storm, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm will find answers to Richards' death, eventually leading to the team traveling into Earth-616 to find the MCU's Mister Fantastic.
If the MCU's Fantastic Four are trapped in the Quantum Realm or the Negative Zone, this would make the case for an easier crossover, since the two teams could clash in that interdimensional space. Knowing full well that this team is a major obstacle to his plans, there's also a chance that Earth-838's Kang will use the grieving Sue, Johnny, and Ben as his tool to erase the MCU's Fantastic Four, leading to an all-out battle of heroes.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now streaming on Disney+.