[This article contains spoilers for Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness.]
The relationship between this year’s Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, and Marvel’s plans to finally, at long last, bring the Fantastic Four into the MCU fold, has always been a strange one. Sam Raimi’s film, co-written by Michael Waldron, finally settled on something of a half-measure: Briefly introducing frequent fan-cast actor John Krasinski as Reed “Mr. Fantastic” Richards in a mid-film scene—only to have him get swiftly killed off in a way that would allow Marvel to re-cast the part very easily if they end up changing their minds down the line. (Even if they don’t use the easy “Alternate universe!” escape hatch, who knows what that face might look like after they finish re-assembling it from Dude Spaghetti, right?)
As it turns out, getting Reed in there in some form had been part of the plan for the film for a good long while, according to Waldron—who gave an interview to Empire this week in which he revealed that, once upon a time, the Fantastic Four would have intruded, not into the middle of Strange 2, but into its coveted after-credits slot.
“I always wanted Reed Richards in this thing,” Waldron told Empire, to the point that he apparently wrote a scene including the character even before he’d gotten authorization from Marvel to do so. “In my very first draft, I wrote a tag just for the hell of it, of the events of the movie being recorded and reviewed by somebody in the Baxter Building, and a stretchy hand coming into frame to run it back. Reed is probably my favorite Marvel comics character, so I was always gunning to get him in here somewhere.”
Of course, the film itself ended up including quite a bit more of Richards than this original plan, even if he does go down pretty easily once the magic starts flying. Meanwhile, the film’s actual, plot-relevant credits scene—not counting a last-minute appearance by Bruce Campbell’s Pizza Poppa—points away from the wider MCU, and back toward the Strange sub-franchise, introducing Charlize Theron as the good doctor’s eventual wife, Clea.
Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness came out back in May; the new Fantastic Four movie (cast still extremely TBD) is currently scheduled for November 8, 2024.