Despite the mixed reviews that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is receiving from critics, Marvel fans will find the movie to be a delight. The movie exposed audiences to the huge diversity of stories taking place in the various realities and treated fans with several characters’ cameos that took everyone by surprise due to its responsibility of anchoring the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the multiverse.
Charles Xavier and Captain Carter, played by Patrick Stewart and Hayley Atwell, respectively, in the X-Men Series and the MCU’s animated anthology What If…?, were hinted at in earlier teasers. They both appeared in cameos as members of the Illuminati, a group that defends Earth-838 from potential dangers. Anson Mount, Blackagar Boltagon from Inhumans, and Lashana Lynch both made appearances as Captain Marvel from that realm thanks to the Illuminati. Even so, these weren’t the most unexpected character revelations.
Reed Richards made his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in the film Multiverse of Madness. In comic books, Mister Fantastic is the original member of The Fantastic Four. In the Fantastic Four Series (2005–2007) and Fantastic Four (2015), Miles Teller and Ioan Gruffudd, respectively, portrayed Reed Richards. The character was slated to serve as the head of Marvel Studios’ Fantastic Four after the character’s copyrights reverted to the studio after Disney acquired Fox (2023). However, Marvel provided a brief peek of Richards in Multiverse of Madness by casting John Krasinski, a favourite of the public.
Fans had been urging Krasinski to take up the part, and Marvel listened to them by fulfilling their wishes. Although fans were pleased to see Krasinski portray Richards, it undoubtedly diminished the effect that the character would have had in his own movie the following year. The paucity of screen time, lack of study, and mystery surrounding Reed Richards’ multiversal variation made a segment of his supporters lose interest in him.
Reed Richards’ debut at Marvel Studios needed to be improved. This is why:
Why Reed Richards’ Cameo Didn’t Create the Intended Impact
The audience responded favourably to Reed Richards’ entry into the franchise in Multiverse of Madness, but the unveiling fell short of the Fantastic Four’s expectations in terms of effect. When John Krasinski appeared in that recognisable uniform, there was a loud yell in the theatre, but things quickly changed. Following Strange’s interrogation by the Illuminati, Wanda, dream-walking into her Earth-838 persona, attacks the base. In response to the crisis, the Illuminati approach Wanda, who Reed tries to persuade to quit. Wanda, however, first kills Black Bolt and then, a short while later, also disintegrates Reed out of her fury and passion. And in that specific world, Reed Richards’ story came to an end.
Krasinski’s portrayal of Reed Richards in Multiverse of Madness may have served as a significant marketing campaign for Marvel. Nevertheless, it ignored the fact that he and The Fantastic Four are far more important than that. The issue was that this wasn’t some resurrected version of an earlier Marvel character from another movie, like Peggy Carter’s Captain Carter or Maria Rambeau’s Captain Marvel. This was a brand-new character that had never been investigated in the context of the MCU and was expected to lead a significant release inside the series soon. He needed a complete backstory to be introduced because he was such an important figure.
However, in hindsight, Multiverse of Madness included this version of Mister Fantastic in the MCU. His origin or abilities had no chance or opportunity to be the focus of the narrative. It was merely a cameo, and Doctor Strange was the main subject of the narrative. Fans are aware of Reed Richards’ identity, of course, but are unaware of other facets of his existence in the expansive MCU timeline, which has now entered the multiverse.
The Fantastic Four, which Reed Richards is a member of, and his rivalry with Victor Von Doom are two of his strongest traits as a comic book character. Marvel has undoubtedly approached each character differently, but each of them has had a satisfying story arc that shows the viewer how they develop as people and as superheroes. However, Reed hasn’t yet had that arc in the MCU.
Reed Richards in Multiverse of Madness was not as prolific as his comic counterpart since he did not draw from his experience, his career, his integrity as the smartest man alive, and his relationships with his peers. Despite everything that John Krasinski’s Mister Fantastic appearance meant, the character’s introduction without going into his history left it seeming flat and had a far smaller impact than it could have.
The Cameo May Dull The Fantastic Four’s Debut
The Fantastic Four will join the MCU in 2023 with the release of Marvel Comics: Fantastic Four, joining the team in this significantly expanded cinematic universe. The gang originally appeared in two Fox Studios adaptations, but it just recently joined the MCU after Marvel Studios regained the rights to use it in a movie in 2019. Fantastic Four was first introduced by Kevin Feige during the Disney Investors Day event in 2020, and he later revealed the movie as a potential concluding entry to Phase Four. Fans had previously thought that Multiverse of Madness would be a genesis narrative that would introduce the cast with a new perspective and new characters to the franchise. But it didn’t go like that.
Reed Richards, the team’s leader, was instead anticlimactically revealed in Multiverse of Madness to be an Illuminati member. Now that the character is a fully developed variation of Mister Fantastic, the surprise factor of the team’s introduction in the upcoming movie will be lost.
Yes, the character in this movie was not his exact counterpart from the MCU, but rather a variation of him who lived in a another universe. However, the Fantastic Four’s initial introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe through its own film will be a little boring since that audiences have been teased with the team’s prior appearance in the franchise. Ben Grimm, Susan Storm, and Johnny Storm are still surprises, and Doctor Doom’s identity will also be revealed. The Fantastic Four’s future with Marvel Studios has now been hinted at subtly (thanks to Krasinski’s cameo), and it is also known that they have long been a part of the multiverse. That eliminates the chaos of meeting the team for the first time.
It’s likely that Reed Richards and the Fantastic Four needed an origin tale, one that showed Reed Richards working his way up to the Baxter Foundation and developing into the smartest person alive. Fantastic Four might have focused on a single comic book adventure that was exclusive to the team before gradually incorporating that storyline into the MCU canon, as the studio has done with a number of other movies in the past and most recently with series like Moon Knight. Additionally, origin stories are effective when all of the relevant characters’ information is unheard-of, unexpected, and unusual.
However, it appears Marvel isn’t exactly moving toward an establishing origin tale for the first family after dropping this reference to The Fantastic Four in the form of Krasinski’s cameo. Unless the studio has other, very distinct intentions to retroactively incorporate the team into the franchise, this may make the squad’s entry into the MCU a minor phenomenon.
The Problem With the Retrospect Inclusion
It is awkward that Marvel acquired the rights to The Fantastic Four at such an awkward time. Marvel Studios meticulously and skillfully woven the cinematic universe together over the course of a decade. They kept the plots and characters connected, which allowed the company to conclude a lengthy narrative with Avengers: Endgame. However, after that, the studio has a duty to introduce fresh faces and new superheroes into a world where the debate around superhumans has significantly advanced. People have undergone a significant social transition and are now conscious of their superhero identities. The process of creating stories now has restrictions on what can be written and how the backgrounds of the characters can be set up. With Eternals, Marvel had to deal with it.
The eponymous crew from the movie Eternals was shown to have been around for seven millennia in the MCU. The team’s history was revealed in a sequence of flashbacks, and the narrative explained their origins and provided a justification for their secrecy within the franchise. Although the movie was terrific, Marvel fans didn’t react to it as enthusiastically as they had in the past. Writers need to be careful not to expand the scope of their characters when establishing them in the past for a series. The picture will face the same restrictions if Marvel chooses to follow the same path as Fantastic Four.
Additionally, Marvel Studios hasn’t put out an origin narrative feature film in a while. Since a few years ago, only Captain Marvel’s film has fully explored a character’s backstory. Even Black Panther provided a brief statement at the start of the film to defend the character’s history. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was an origin narrative, but it also strangely changed the course of history and built the legend in retrospect. It has been a while since a true origin tale of a Marvel character has been turned into a stand-alone feature picture, not that these movies were any less good.
That movie might have been Fantastic Four. However, based on Krasinski’s appearance and implied background (he mentions his children), it appears that Reed Richards will have a mature and adult journey in the upcoming movie, potentially with flashbacks revealing his beginnings as it did in Eternals.
Should Ioan Gruffudd Have Played Reed Richards?
After watching the movie, I have the unpopular impression that casting Ioan Gruffudd would have been a better decision. The X-Men Series became canon in the new Marvel Multiverse because to Patrick Stewart’s participation. It demonstrated the existence of mutants in other universes and demonstrated that the earlier X-Men films were never in vain. Ioan Gruffudd would have made the Fox Fantastic Four Series canon in the multiverse, and his presence would have heightened the sentimental value. Gruffudd would have served as a throwback to earlier collaborations with Marvel Entertainment and effectively unified all recent Marvel assets.
Since the Illuminati was confirmed for Multiverse of Madness, there have been fan rumours that Gruffudd would show up in the movie. Marvel, on the other hand, decided to take things a step further and brought a fan favourite in the form of Reed Richards to play the variant character. Gruffudd’s portrayal of Reed Richards at the time garnered praise and admiration for the actor’s performance. Even though Ioan Gruffudd and his group may be part of the same unified multiverse, he was never considered for a cameo in the Doctor Strange sequel.
Why John Krasinski Should Have Debuted in Fantastic Four (2023)
For years, John Krasinski has been altered in Fantastic Four garb by fans. Fans’ top pick for the role of the next Reed Richards is the actor who was previously in line to play Captain America. Everyone fell in love with the real-life pair because to their on-screen chemistry in A Quiet Place, and fans began supporting Emily Blunt to play Sue Storm/Invisible Girl. Although watching him on Multiverse of Madness was a fan service, fans would have been even more excited had he been cast in Fantastic Four (2023) (perhaps opposite Emily Blunt).
Krasinski’s participation in the Fantastic Four movie has not yet been confirmed by Kevin Feige or any other Marvel executive. But I’d venture that the announcement is not far off. For whatever reason, Krasinski has won over his fans’ admiration, and they are all in awe of him for donning his outfit against Doom in a far more important position.
Will Fantastic Four Be the MCU’s First Family?
Marvel has consistently planned its initiatives with the long term in mind. Krasinski’s portrayal of Reed Richards might have been improved, but Marvel may have had a plan all along to include The Fantastic Four into the MCU. Through a prequel movie set in the 1990s, Marvel previously added Captain Marvel to the story. The studio now intends to carry on that narrative with The Marvels and Secret Invasion, which may occasionally reference the occasions between Captain Marvel and the current MCU year. Marvel might incorporate The Fantastic Four into the franchise in a same manner.
Marvel may have the Fantastic Four take place prior to Iron Man in a narrative that will properly establish the group as Marvel’s first family. Of course, there’s still the matter of justifying their existence in the present and explaining why the squad failed to appear to confront Thanos. Marvel might place the team in the same predicament as it did for Carol Danvers and Scott Lang, according to rumours. Lang became trapped in the Quantum Realm while Danvers was on the opposite side of the cosmos. Before, the series made a seventy-year jump into the present to include Captain America. It raises the concern of employing a repeated viewpoint in an effort to integrate retrospective stories into the MCU, though. It will be intriguing to watch how Marvel Studios incorporates The Fantastic Four into the existing mythos and makes their story canon.
Fantastic Four is a crucial addition to the MCU and centres on important comic book characters. For fans, it has been nothing short than a dream to see all the Marvel Comics stories come together in a live-action setting, making the Marvel Cinematic Universe a true reflection of the Marvel Comics universe. And the start of that unity would be with Fantastic Four.
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