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Marvel drops the FF bomb

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People never tire of superhero movies says CONSTANTINOS PSILLIDES looking forward to a new battle

It was quite a week for the superhero movie world. Madame Webb premiered to even worse reviews than Morbius, a feat thought impossible; the long-anticipated trailer for Deadpool & Wolverine dropped during the Superbowl and broke viewership records (365 million and counting) and venerated director Christopher Nolan said that casting Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man was a pivotal moment in cinema history.

Oh, and Marvel shocked fans everywhere by casually revealing the cast and release date of the Fantastic Four.

On Valentine’s Day, the official Marvel account posted a sketch image showing the four members of the Fantastic Four enjoying a casual day at home, wishing everyone a happy Valentine’s Day.

Along with the image were the names of the cast: everyone’s daddy Pedro Pascal stars as Reed Richards (Mr Fantastic), the amazing Vanessa Kirby plays Sue Storm (Invisible Woman), Joseph Quinn of Stranger Things fame will play Johnny Storm (Human Torch) and Ebon Moss-Bachrach – fresh from winning an Emmy as Cousin Richie in The Bear – will portray Ben Grimm (The Thing). The movie will hit cinemas on July 25, 2025, swapping dates with The Thunderbolts.

News about the casting had leaked before, we even told you about it three months ago.

The Fantastic Four is one of Marvel’s longest-running comic book titles and is absolutely adored by fans. Their familial bond has always been one of the company’s unshakeable pillars, also known as ‘The First Family’. Their story is simple: Richards, a genius scientist, along with his astronaut best friend Ben, girlfriend Sue and her younger brother Johnny find themselves on a space mission where they are bombarded by cosmic rays that give them superpowers. Richards can stretch his body into anything, Sue can turn invisible at will and project force fields, Johnny can engulf his whole body in flames and Ben is permanently covered with rocks and possesses superhuman strength.

From the sketch, it seems The FF will be set in a parallel universe in the 1960s. The house décor gives off a retro feeling while Grimm reads a Life magazine with US president Lyndon Johnson on the cover, which was issued in 1963. We still don’t know who the villain will be (most likely their arch-nemesis, Dr Doom) but what we do know is that the film will wisely skip the origin story.

By officially announcing FF, Marvel hopes to bounce back from the disaster that was Multiverse Saga. As if increasingly dropping ticket sales, disappointing films and an avalanche of bloated Disney+ series weren’t bad enough, Marvel was forced to drop the Saga’s archvillain due to legal issues. Jonathan Majors (playing Kang the Emperor) was fired following a guilty verdict for assault, forcing Marvel to scrap future projects and possibly recasting the role or abandoning the plotline altogether.

Add in a slew of mediocre movies (Madame Webb is so bad, protagonist Dakota Johnson fired her publicist and switched agencies), one can easily understand why Marvel pulled the big guns out.

Even so though, how can Marvel connect the different universes, scrap existing storylines and resolve loose ends in a manner that can be rationalised in-universe? How can they bridge the gap between TV series and films and tie everything in a neat little bow, wiping the slate clean?

Enter Deadpool.

The foul-mouthed, fourth wall breaking character is now owned by Disney and judging by the trailer, he will be tasked with travelling in different cinematic universes and setting things straight. Cheap move? Yes. Cowardly and borderline admission of failure? Absolutely. Necessary? Unfortunately, yes.

The MCU is in shambles and the only way to bounce back is to learn from past mistakes and leave the past behind. Wrapping up the Multiverse Saga, introducing the FF and in a couple of years rebooting the X-Men series guarantees a steady stream of superhero movies for the next 15 years.

Perhaps the final indication that superhero movies are back is revitalising competition between Marvel and DC. That’s because FF will be going head-to-head with Superman: Legacy, director James Gunn’s re-launch of the DC extended universe. DC is all in on Superman, hoping for it to be successful enough to green light more movies. Both films need to be great, both need to be a hit at the box office and they are released within two weeks of each other.

Whichever film comes on top, the clear winners are the fans. Cause people never tire of superhero movies. They were just tired of bad superhero movies.

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