The Ones You’ve All Been Waiting Four

Whether you enjoy the speculation they inspire or feel they are overly frustrationing or utilized, the easter egg has become a regular part of our media culture.  Much like the original event that inspired modern terminology, the placement of an easter egg in media – whether it is in movies or games — is unpredicatable; placed in such a random spot that only the most observant hunters would notice.  Once you have the egg you still have to crack it open to figure out what’s inside.  

No studio or franchise plays the shell game better than Marvel.  In every film and show you can easily locate something that appears to indicate a future plot in the MCU.  Of course there is also some deception as well; though this isn’t always the studios fault.  But it does feel Marvel has a bit of fun with it since they know fans will “see” what they want to sometimes.  After giving us some obvious plants, like Nick Fury holding a file with the name Bruce Banner in Iron Man 2, it was just easy to let our imaginations run wild.  Which leads some people to believe anything, like the appearance of Gypsy Moth in Ep 7 of WandaVision.  

Until this year the biggest easter egg or reveal in the MCU was possibly Adam Warlock at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II.  

Using an easter egg for a future major character reveal doesn’t usually happen, especially with Marvel.  And when they do occur it is for more obscure individuals who are only noticable to die hard fans – take Tommy and Billy in WandaVision for example.  But the Illuminati scene from Multiverse of Madness presents a major celebrity making a Marvel appearance.  And unlike Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier, who also appears in the film, Krasinski has yet to portray Richards on screen; for Disney/Marvel or any studio.  I don’t think this was merely a cameo.  We have our Reed; we just need three more and it will be Fantastic.  

Well, in my opinion, if everything else was an easter egg, then the John Krasinski/Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic reveal in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a Cadbury.  

Krasinski as Mister Fantastic

Speaking of those three, their first mission taught them they sometimes need to question the decisions of Dr. Richards.  The same thing happens to Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige.  During this year’s Hall H announcement of the upcoming films, Feige most likely began the next social media meltdown with a few sentences.  Feige, in discussing the duties of bringing The Fantastic Four over to the official MCU, makes a simple but solid statement.   

A lot of people know this origin story. A lot of people know the basics.   

Kevin Feige’s statement is true; of the three previous Fantastic Four films, two have touched upon the major components of the team’s origin and dynamic.  

I can already hear the screams of REDUCTIVE from Mars, but let me offer a few highlights, with my personal take, just in case anyone is unfamiliar with #TheFour.  

There is Dr. Reed Richards, smart guy, always scientist-ing and discovering which is a good and bad thing.  “Leads” the team, beginning with the mission where they gain their abilities.  Susan “Sue” Storm, classic case of a lady who you think you can see through, but who actually is only letting you see what she wants you to.  Reed and Sue are an item.  Reed’s best friend Benjamin Grimm has blue eyes, and is all muscle including the most important one – the heart.  Finally, Sue’s brother Johnny Storm  – impulsive but you’ll never find a hothead who is more cool under pressure.  

In both the 2005 and 2015 Fantastic Four film, it’s Reed’s research that leads the team to encounter energy that transforms them from normal humans to superhumans; the events leading to the “mishap” do differ dramatically.  Whether you are a fan of the films or not, both of them give audiences enough of one of comics’ original and most emotional, meta-transformations.  There is a significant amount of change each one endures; both physical, even sensory, and psychologically.    

Kevin Feige’s decision to not do another origin should not be met with disapproval, but instead with what the studio head is providing to audiences/fans and those who worked on the previous film – RESPECT.  This move echoes the studios previous tactic with Sony and the Spider-Man films; Stewart’s inclusion, and the upcoming Deadpool 3, may mean the same fate awaits the X-Men.  Rather than rewrite or revisit Genesis, Feige is about a “new thing”.  

How do we take that and bring something that they’ve never seen before?

That is a multi-million dollar question Kevin Feige is posing.  More importantly, it’s the one the studio head has been preparing for; each film in the current MCU builds on previous successes, setbacks and stories from Marvel properties.       

The smoothest move Tom Holland’s Spider-Man showed off during Homecoming was not making things awkward.  Not only did he play it cool with Keaton’s Vulture at the table, but also when he met Tony Stark.  Was there a moment of star struck fandom for the teen upon meeting the billionaire Avenger?  Yes, but did we waste time learning about these characters or even witness a flashback of Iron Man watching the kid?  No, that screen time was properly devoted to the story we were there to witness, not to reminisce.    

The Windup and The Pitch

Yes most Marvel comics fans have their dream story, their pitch to Kevin Feige for some Marvel property; I am no different.  But, I’m also not naive enough to believe Feige would jeopardize his financials with my fantasy – that’s if he even reads this.  

During his introduction to the various members of the Illuminati, Dr Strange makes an odd comment about Reed Richards and the entire team.  

“Didn’t you guys trend in the 80s”

Now I know Erik Lensherr asked us about what we saw, but I’m 100% sure I heard that right. The 80’s. Meanwhile, the only hero who may have been around close to that timeframe and is still active would be Captain Marvel. To put it another way, Monica Rambeau, aka Photon/Captain Marvel, who serves alongside Reed on the Illuminati would probably have been a kid when The Fantastic Four were a thing. Do you remember the entire ABC Saturday morning cartoon lineup from the 80’s..you probably don’t even remember Turbo Teen.

Of course I kinda wonder how Dr. Strange would know this.  My only guess is the Eye and the ability to astral project and travel through time.  As Strange states in Avengers: Infinity War, he views timelines, not dashes.  During the travels he more than likely sees from beginning to end; although it’s remembering all the details and how to use them when you get back that makes those trips tricky.  

So what if while he was focused on the threat from Thanos he also got a look at some other things that just were not overly important at the time.  

Or maybe Benedict Cumberbatch’s Strange is just that old and has a good memory.  

But it does seem odd that another hero whose age is at least implied, and one who is a major science nerd has yet to speak of Reed.  That would be the original Ant-Man Hank Pym, acting legend Michael Douglas.  

And Tony told Steve how he grew up hearing about the legend of Captain America.  Wouldn’t the # 1 scientific mind, during that era at least, be on Howard Stark’s bedtime story list.  

So what possible fate could have befallen Reed, not to mention the others, that would lead them to be erased from the annals of history.   

Well for starters, while he would become fantastic at first he was just a man.  And more to the point – and something I can personally relate to – he wasn’t seen as very professional.  Was he someone respected by academia or was he like Egon Spengler; someone about to lose his grants and funding?  

Speaking of history, one of Kevin Feige’s remarks about bringing The Fantastic Four to the screen for Marvel Studios may hold some clues to where #TheFour went or what went wrong.   The Fantastic Four first debuted in 1961.  There are three (there’s that number again) other entries into entertainment that also occurred during this period; and that are oddly similar to The Fantastic Four’s story – the origin and the ongoing.  Those would be Gilligan’s Island, Swiss Family Robinson and Lost in Space.  Yes the last two are virtually the same but in tandem they signify the diverging world’s the family has to deal with – domestic and interstellar.   Why include Gilligan’s Island? Ben and Johnny’s interactions certainly give off Skipper and Gilligan vibes; don’t even get me started on how The Millionaire and the Professor put together would give you Reed. 

Another thing about all three of these 60’s throwbacks feature families, by blood or bond, who are lost from home.  Through these families audiences discover that even if you can’t make it “home” you can make home; and be whole. 

So, how would I do it Mr. Feige – just kidding you aren’t reading this.     

For starters, if I’m going 80’s and with a genius then we better make it REAL.  Or as close as possible.  I’m sure Krasinski can recreate Kilmer’s Crhis Knight, or close enough.  

Okay, so I was a bit REDUCTIVE.  I forgot Sue and Johnny are RICH  Or the Storm family is at least.  But Susan would do anything for the man she loves, right?  

And Ben would still probably be returning home from war, although a different, even more traumatizing one.  Maybe looking for work and turning to his buddy Reed.  

Now if a guy wanted to teach science – his way – in the 80’s, and had a little money to work with, one easy option comes to mind. Public Access Television.

Don’t you all remember The Fantastic Four.  It was an hour long kids science show with experiments and demonstrations, it ran for like five seasons, I think?  Season 3 even added a group of kids called The Power Pack.  And don’t forget the robot.  Remember?  

I always wondered why they canceled it.  That final episode was such a cliffhanger too.  Was strange it didn’t get renewed but that was a thing back then.  I guess they all just fell off and never acted again.  Fame.  Hollyweird.  It happens.  

But What If? that wasn’t all the story.  One thing I have come to accept about the Marvel Universe is not every story is seen as it happens.  That is because it is expansive; the Universe is an expanse.  Naturally, as the area opens up there is more room to move about freely.  More room for more things to happen here; for things to be overlooked or misinterpreted over there.  More room to explore, which is exactly what The Fantastic Four do.  Mrs. Nichols, THANK YOU, I should probably have included Star Trek as a reference as well.  That would make it #TheFour.  

So What If? the last experiment didn’t go as planned.  Resulting in the same transformations and more.  From there you have options for the abscene of these individuals.  A government cover up or secret team, perhaps?  Are they lost in space and/or time?  Whether the absence is because they can’t get back or because Reed won’t turn back, their adventures could still occur.  This is due to the fact that along with Guardians and Thor, The Fantastic Four’s foes and stories aren’t limited to terrafirma.  Some are even galactic…one foe is Galactus.  

So that earthquake, that was #TheFour taking on Mole Man. Worried about the Secret Wars; they took down the Super Skrull already. It just wasn’t on Earth. Would you even remember if you met the Puppet Master? And the King of All Media can probably keep his kingdom’s affairs private.

Okay, honestly this last portion has been totally for the fans.  Allowing the easter egg to do what it is supposed to do.  Leave us chasing after the rabbit, inevitably tumbling into Wonderland.  Where we can continue to wonder and wait.  

But not much longer, right Kevin Feige?  Making it official by unveiling the first First Family in 2024; in November.  Things in the MCU are about to get Fantastic.

Countdown, anyone?  4,3,2….

John Krasinski as Mister Fantastic

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