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Marvel’s Fantastic Four Reboot, A New Era Beckons with Stellar Cast and Retro Vibes

From Pedro Pascal to Vanessa Kirby, this ensemble promises electrifying performances reminiscent of Downey’s Iron Man.

With a possible 1960s setting, Marvel appears to be preparing to deliver a new take on the iconic superheroes. But one thing is certain as they embark on this parallel universe journey: the arrival of the Fantastic Four will cause a seismic shift in the MCU landscape. True believers, get ready for a new era of Marvel magic.

By the end of this decade, the four actors who were recently cast as the titular superheroes in Marvel’s “The Fantastic Four”: Pedro Pascal, Vanessa Kirby, Joseph Quinn, and Ebon Moss-Bachrach, could be saying the same thing.

All of these actors, like Downey, have recently worked on big-budget productions — Pascal with “The Mandalorian” and “The Last of Us,” Kirby with the two most recent “Mission: Impossible” films, Quinn with “Stranger Things,” and Moss-Bachrach with “Andor.”

However, like Downey, neither of them had previously starred in their own studio action blockbuster before joining Marvel.

Downey, of course, was such an electrifying presence as Iron Man that he propelled the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the next 11 years, appearing in ten films that grossed a total of $12.5 billion at the global box office before Stark died in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame.

Since then, Downey’s absence has been felt strongly by Marvel fans, as has the loss of Chris Evans’ Captain America, who also made his (possibly) final appearance in “Endgame.”

Stark, the brash, rakish genius, and Cap, the stalwart, aw-shucks warrior, were the yin and yang of the early MCU, serving as the franchise’s gravitational center.

Fantastic Four
Fantastic Four

With the Guardians of the Galaxy splitting up, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor taking hiatuses, and the deaths of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and, tragically, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, Marvel has been searching for characters who can serve as the central anchor for the most successful movie franchise in Hollywood history. 

This new Fantastic Four could be those characters, as they finally take on the roles on the big screen that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby first imagined in 1961, kicking off the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we currently know it.

Reed Richards (Pascal) and Johnny Storm (Quinn) are like remixes of Stark and Cap, with Reed’s Mr. Fantastic as the stalwart, aw-shucks genius, and Johnny’s Human Torch as the brash and rakish warrior.

Sue’s Invisible Woman develops one of the most impressive suites of powers in the Marvel canon, but unlike Captain Marvel or Scarlet Witch, she is much more grounded, with earthly, everyday concerns.

Ben Grimm (Moss-Bachrach) is a walking pathos, a scrappy, good-natured man trapped inside the Thing’s seemingly monstrous body of orange boulders— he is Hulk without the uncontrollable rage and Rocket without the antisocial misanthropy. 

Readers of Marvel comics are aware that these four characters have played important roles in the ongoing Marvel universe, often at its center.

While the “Fantastic 4” films from the 2000s (with Evans as Johnny) have their appeal, it is fair to say that Marvel’s First Family has never received the high-quality feature film adaptation that they deserve. 

Bringing them into the MCU is a win-win situation: Marvel gets the central characters it requires, while the Fantastic Four gets a cinematic home worthy of their place in Marvel history. It does not hurt that Pascal, Kirby, Quinn, and Moss-Bachrach are all extremely talented actors.

What is most intriguing about Wednesday’s announcement is how Marvel approached it, with a playful illustration of the actors as their characters celebrating Valentine’s Day.

The retro title treatment, mid-century modern costumes and furniture, and the fact that Ben appears to be reading a December 1963 issue of Life magazine all point to a 1960s setting for “The Fantastic Four.”

More to the point, this implies that “The Fantastic Four” will exist in a parallel universe separate from the core MCU— if there was a family of space-age superheroes who were contemporaries of Peggy Carter and Howard Stark, we would have heard about it by now.

Instead, it appears that Marvel is using this film as a literal fresh start, allowing audiences to enter without prior knowledge of the 50-plus MCU titles that will come before it.

Of course, the Fantastic Four will eventually join the main MCU, most likely in 2027’s “Avengers: Secret Wars,” which (if the storyline from the 2015 comics run of the same name is followed) will feature multiple parallel universes colliding with one another.

That could result in a brand new, semi-rebooted MCU centered on the Fantastic Four (and the X-Men, as suggested by “The Marvels”‘ post-credits scene).

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