[This piece contains spoilers for Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness. Do we still need to keep treating this information like it’s a state secret at this point?]
Marvel’s upcoming efforts to integrate the Fantastic Four—the one batch of its oh-so-marketable stable of heroes who’ve shit the bed every single time they’ve been wearily dumped into a movie—into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a very weird thing. Outside of about 4 minutes of Doctor Strange 2 that were apparently filmed in a green-screened bunker under John Krasinski’s house, Fantastic Four plans have always been way more about unfocused potential, rather than any real hope for success. It’s not that there aren’t great Fantastic Four stories out there—there are; it’s that they’re unlikely to ever get a really good translation to the silver screen.
What the MCU’s Fantastic Four plans—speculated about for years, and then made more solid with a formal announcement way back in 2019—have been great for, though, has been dumb rumors. Krasinski himself was, of course, a dumb rumor, back before Marvel decided to throw all those baying Jack Ryan fans a bone and have him take on the character of an extra-dimensional Reed Richards in The Multiverse Of Madness. But even by those standards, the rumors circulating online today are spectacularly dumb—most especially an entirely unvetted assertion that Marvel is courting Steven Spielberg to direct the movie.
Now, “courting” is obviously doing a lot of work there; it’s not impossible to imagine Spielberg taking a courtesy call from Marvel Studios bigwig Kevin Feige. And it’s not like Spielberg is holding himself above his genre roots these days; Ready Player One showed that the man still likes getting down in the toybox and smashing stuff together. It’s just that the idea of Spielberg subsuming himself to the Marvel machine is completely absurd; he doesn’t need them, and, despite a few Phase 4 hiccups, they don’t really need him, either. So what would be the point, unless he’s bringing way more passion to the idea of a Fantastic Four movie than he’s ever even remotely hinted at?
Really, the other rumors circulating today—apparently cited from an anonymous 4chan post, of all things—seem completely tame by comparison. Penn Badgley floated as Reed Richards? Why not? (Although we’ve heard he doesn’t, uh, take direction well.) Fifty Shades’ Jamie Dornan as Johnny Storm? Could happen. Certainly, it’ll happen before Steven Spielberg makes a Fantastic Four movie. Jesus Christ.