The MCU's Fantastic Four movie officially has a release date set for November 8, 2024. More than 18 months after the film was first announced to be in development during Disney Investor Day 2020, this new outing is now the lead-off hitter for Phase 6 as the MCU moves towards an all-out Multiversal war.
After three solo movies from 20th Century Fox that ranged from "OK for the era" to "universally hated," Marvel Studios has a golden opportunity to bring Marvel's First Family into the same universe as Earth's Mightiest Heroes. But considering how much anticipation is building for their introduction into the MCU, many are wondering - could the Fantastic Four arrive before their own solo movie?
One character has already done just that, with John Krasinski's Mr. Fantastic enjoying his cameo moment alongside the Illuminati in this year's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. While the jury is still out on Krasinski's casting as the MCU's Earth-616 version of Reed Richards, he became the first Fantastic domino to fall in terms of the team transitioning to Marvel Studios from Fox.
And the biggest reason that the MCU could introduce this major team before their first solo movie? It's happened elsewhere in the MCU as well.
Monumental MCU Introductions
Marvel Studios has a knack for developing supporting characters building up to leading hero status. Sam Wilson did it before becoming Captain America and Loki did it in the Thor trilogy before his solo Disney+ series. But there is one specific example of a movie that brought not one, but two, future leading men into the MCU in non-headliner roles: 2016's Captain America: Civil War.
This epic threequel gave fans their first taste of the late Chadwick Boseman's King T'Challa, who was one of the most important pieces of the story behind Chris Evans' Captain America and Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man before his time in Black Panther. In an even smaller role was Tom Holland, who finally brought Peter Parker to the MCU a year before he took on his first solo movie with Spider-Man: Homecoming.
With these two heroes having been set up to play key roles in future MCU stories, Marvel Studios eased them into the story to get them in before they would play leading roles in their own franchises. This opens up the door for Marvel to do the same thing with the Fantastic Four, especially since Feige confirmed that their own movie will not be an origin story.
Looking at that theory, here are four projects that Marvel Studios could use to introduce the MCU's take on the Fantastic Four.
4 MCU Projects That Could Feature the Fantastic Four
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (February 17, 2023)
Marvel Studios will have an opportunity to fully explore the Quantum Realm more deeply than ever in Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly's third Ant-Man movie, appropriately subtitled Quantumania. With some major plot points and story details coming into this massive threequel, there could be an easy door through which the Fantastic Four could enter for their MCU debut.
Often dealing with outer space and the Quantum Realm in their comics adventures, Ant-Man 3 could realistically have Marvel's First Family stuck in the Quantum Realm, especially with their solo film confirmed to avoid their origin story. This could be a way for the MCU to easily work them into the existing narrative without an extensive explanation for where they've been during their extended absence.
Also of note is that this movie's main villain, Kang the Conqueror, has some notable ties to the Fantastic Four's Reed Richards in the comics. Kang is also known as Nathaniel Richards, the core version being a 31st-century descendant of Reed, which Marvel Studios could easily use to add more drama and excitement to that hero/villain relationship in future movies.
Check out what fans saw from Kang in the first footage from Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, shown at San Diego Comic-Con.
Loki Season 2 (Summer 2023)
Season 1 of Loki introduced fans to the MCU's Multiverse for the first time while also ending the series with a Variant of Jonathan Majors' Kang the Conqueror, He Who Remains. Given the themes and characters laid out in this series, who's to say that the Fantastic Four couldn't make their MCU debut in the increasingly deep Disney+ series?
First and foremost is the fact that the team has an important connection to Jonathan Majors' He Who Remains from Season 1, as the original Kang, Nathaniel Richards, is a descendant of Fantastic Four team leader Reed Richards. That Variant confirmed that he was a version of a 31st-century scientist just as Nathaniel was in the comics, lending credence to that relationship being in place for the MCU as well.
Additionally, this show fully explored the concept of alternate universes, leading to the idea that the Fantastic Four might be stuck somewhere out in the vast and unexplored Multiverse. Kang could potentially be keeping them trapped and out of the "Sacred Timeline" as a part of his plan for Multiversal domination, and Season 2 may give the God of Mischief the opportunity to find them as he tries to help the Time Variance Authority fix Season 1's mess.
While details on Loki Season 2's plot remain under wraps, some of the first photos from the set in London have recently come online.
The Marvels (July 28, 2023)
The Fantastic Four are well-known for spending plenty of time both on Earth and traveling through the cosmos, very similarly to The Marvels' leading character, Captain Marvel. Carol Danvers has had a few appearances in the comics next to Marvel's First Family, which could end up potentially coming to fruition on the big screen as well.
The Marvels will almost certainly take all three of its leading stars into outer space, with Kamala Khan having switched places with Carol in Ms. Marvel and Monica Rambeau seemingly on her way out of Earth's atmosphere after WandaVision. With the Fantastic Four now confirmed for their own debut to start Phase 6, there's a golden opportunity to include them in a sequel to Marvel's billion-dollar box-office hit from 2019.
On top of those obvious points, there is still the unanswered question about whom the "aerospace engineer" is from WandaVision, which could still turn out to be Reed Richards if Marvel goes that route with Monica. After so much theorizing during that Disney+ show, there's no way to predict if it will happen, but there's also no way to definitively deny that Reed and his crew could show up with that connection still in play.
Before Captain Marvel's next MCU appearance in The Marvels, take a look at the brand-new suit that she wore in Ms. Marvel's post-credit scene.
Thunderbolts (July 26, 2024)
For the last option in this list, we now take a look at unquestionably the wildest option in Marvel Studios' Thunderbolts.
The Thunderbolts and Fantastic Four aren't teams that would usually be associated with one another, one being a team of secretive super villains working for the government and the other being...well, the Fantastic Four. But there's one important aspect to both of their releases that could line Marvel's First Family up for an appearance in this unique outing - the Sacred MCU Timeline.
At San Diego Comic-Con 2022, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige confirmed that Thunderbolts would be the final movie in the MCU's Phase 5, with Fantastic Four kicking off Phase 6 just over three months later in 2024. Seeing that these two movies will bridge the middle and final Phases of the Multiverse Saga, it would seemingly make sense to introduce a team as big as the Fantastic Four in the movie preceding their own solo outing.
In all likelihood, this option would introduce or tease the team during one of Thunderbolts' post-credits scenes, continuing the same trend from Captain Marvel's tease in Avengers: Infinity War or Blade's line of dialogue in Eternals. The Fantastic Four would easily be the biggest MCU characters to make that kind of appearance, which could make Marvel Studios push for them to be introduced in a tease like that simply to build anticipation for their solo film.
While Thunderbolts is still some time away from going into production, see what John Walker actor Wyatt Russell said about potentially joining the movie's cast.
When Will the Fantastic Four Join the MCU?
No new addition to the MCU since Spider-Man has garnered as much attention from fans as the Fantastic Four, particularly since Marvel Studios regained the rights to use the team from 20th Century Fox. And even if the team doesn't make a full MCU appearance before their Phase 6 solo movie, they are now confirmed to join the MCU in just over two years.
The Multiverse and the cosmos seem to be the group's easiest access points into the long-standing Marvel Cinematic Universe, but they could also simply join in a more disconnected post-credit scene in the movie right before theirs. No matter what option Marvel chooses, the First Family will be a force to be reckoned with as they finally make their debut alongside Marvel's biggest heroes and villains.
Marvel Studios' Fantastic Four will release in theaters on November 8, 2024.