Fantastic Four: Doomsday is a 2016 film released in the Earth-11584 continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is the sequel to 2014's The Fantastic Four, the fourth film in Phase 3 and the 19th film overall in the MCU. Unlike other films in the MCU, it is a co-production of 20th Century Fox and Marvel Studios, distributed by the former, due to a rights sharing agreement struck in 2012. The film was a critical and financial success, surpassing its immediate predecessor in both categories.
Work on a sequel for the Fantastic Four began almost immediately after the successful release of the first film in 2014, with all the major actors signed to play their roles in an additional film (along with reprising their roles in various other Marvel properties, per usual Marvel contract structure.) Fox executives once again floated the idea of having Chronicle Josh Trank write and direct the sequel, but Trank dismissed this idea as "his version" of the Fantastic Four would not fit into the version created for the MCU. Director Brad Bird was approached to once again direct, and despite his fear of burnout (also working on the 2015 release Tomorrowland for Disney), Bird agreed to co-write and then later direct the sequel film, which would center around noted antagonist Doctor Doom. In addition, Cobie Smulders confirmed in mid-2015 that she would reprise her role as Maria Hill in the film, playing a more active role in this film than in any other she had been in prior.
Filming began in September of 2015 and finished that December. The quick turnaround was attributed to the quick takes that Bird used as director and the lack of special effects in the film outside of the motion capture used for The Thing and the Human Torch.
We open on a replay of the scene from the beginning of the first Fantastic Four film, showing a young Victor von Doom and Reed Richards working on their interdimensional technology in college. Victor corrects what he perceives to be an error in Reed's calculations, however the change causes the project to go haywire and explode. After Reed and Susan Storm left Victor, thinking he was dead, he emerged from the rubble heavily scarred. We get a montage of him traveling back to his homeland of Latveria, an impoverished Eastern European Country that lived in the shadow of the former Soviet Union. Through a combination of science and sorcery that he gained from his Gypsy upbringing, Doom forges a suit of armor, further scarring his face by putting on the still heated mask too soon, and swears revenge on Reed Richards.
Cut to the present day where the Fantastic Four are fighting a super villain calling himself the Mole Man. Despite his odd appearance and sense of humor, he is able to outmatch the team with the robots he's built. The team is reluctant to engage fully, held back by the Avengers Initiative that puts them under SHIELD's jurisdiction. However SHIELD agent Maria Hill gives them the go ahead, and without any issue they make short work of the Mole Man, escorting him to the police station afterwards. On the way, they help put out a nearby fire, with Ben saving a group of children from the flames. However the children's mother, citing the anti-super hero nature of a paper called the Daily Bugle, demands the children stay away from "that monster."
Back at Four Freedoms Plaza, the newly renovated Baxter Building, Ben laments the fact that unlike the other members of the team, he cannot change his form. Reed reaffirms his goal of fixing Ben, but Ben has his doubts, knowing that the rest of the team wouldn't give up their powers in a heartbeat. Despondent, Ben dons his trench coat and takes a walk through Central Park. While there, he stops a girl from being mugged. They begin to speak, with Ben finding out the woman is named Alicia Masters, and furthermore that she is blind. He explains to her his condition, but she doesn't seem to care and seems quite taken with him, even sketching his face by touching it with her hands to get a sense of the contours. The two seem to connect on an emotional level, which is interrupted by Ben receiving a call from Reed. SHIELD is dispatching them to Sokovia to help quell a recent outbreak of violence following the events of Age of Ultron.
In Sokovia, Ben and the rest of the team are able to disperse the violence, but are quickly approached by a robot with a projected hologram of a man clad in armor, inviting them to dine with the ruler of neighboring Latveria. We get some of the history of Latveria, that for many years it was a backwater nation that, like Sokovia, wasn't generally well regarded by the outside world. However in recent years it has become something of a crime-free paradise, albeit a dictatorial one, under the iron fist of its ruler known only as Doom. Reed and company discuss this with Maria Hill, who says SHIELD doesn't have much information on this Doom guy, and they are sent in to try and collect some intelligence. To add to the act of it being a formal dinner visit, Maria attends as Johnny's "date" while Ben is allowed to invite Alicia Masters as his.
In Latveria, the quartet meet with Doctor Doom, who appears clad in his usual armor and green cloak. When asked about the armor, Doom merely replies that it is a ceremonial outfit, reminiscent of the Latverian Knights of the past. After some small talk concerning Latveria's transformation into an orderly society, Reed figures out that Doom is in fact Victor von Doom, the same man who he thought died in the explosion in college. Doom admits to this, but says that he doesn't blame Reed for the failures of that experiment. Rather, he wants to extend an olive branch of friendship to the West through them, given their celebrity. He invites them to stay in his castle overnight and invites them to tour the country the following day. Somewhat reluctantly (given Victor's untoward advances towards Susan at times), they agree. In the night, however, Johnny, Reed and Susan are gassed by Doom and abducted, only to be replaced by Life Model Decoys.
The following morning, the LMD's depart without Ben and Alicia or Agent Hill, responding to a distress call of "the escape of the Mole Man". Ben remains behind with Alicia and the two get more acquainted with each other, while Doom promises to look into his condition. The group takes more of a tour of Latveria, learning more about their culture and Doom's past, especially concerning his study of cosmic radiation. A day or so after the trip, Ben is led into a laboratory by Doom and hooked to a nearby machine. There, Doom manages to reverse Ben's mutation and restore him to his human form, albeit with slightly more enhanced strength than before. Ben thanks Doom and proclaims him a friend, wondering why it was that Reed couldn't figure it all out. Doom says that Reed may not have wanted to figure everything out, given him enjoying his newfound super hero lifestyle and the romance he now shares with Susan Storm. Ben, already disillusioned by his friend, seems to accept this argument. Alicia, however, seems a bit wary of the new Ben. We also see some other of Doom's hardware, including an inter-dimensional transporter that is similar to the one from the opening of the film, as well as a glowing device near the device that changed Ben back into a human.
In Doom's arrogance, he did not replace Agent Hill with a Life Model Decoy. She begins to suspect something when she can't make contact with any of her fellow SHIELD agents, and so she explores the castle. She eventually stumbles across the other three members of the Fantastic Four and frees them. When they confront Doom, Ben stands up for him, saying that Victor is the one who cured him. While Reed is flabbergasted that Doom managed to achieve something he couldn't, he still brings up the fact they were gassed and replaced. Ben tries to reconcile the differences between the Doom he got to know and the Doom they accuse of attacking them, and eventually his gratitude for becoming human again wins out. The three stand down when it becomes clear Ben will try and stop them from attacking Doom, who continues to protest his innocence in the matter. Eventually, they depart without Ben or Alicia.
Ben and Alicia have another discussion, where the blind woman lambasts Ben for abandoning his friends, and essentially his family. Ben goes to Doom, asking for a plane so he can fly back to New York and end things with the team on a more cordial note. Doom denies him this request, revealing the ruse and stating that now he has the cosmic energies that created the Thing duplicated in his device, and he can bestow ultimate power to himself. He reveals that he captured the three again, along with Hill, and he has separated them in their own death traps: Johnny is fighting Doombots in a low-oxygen environment, Susan is forced to concentrate constantly on a forcefield to prevent from being crushed by hydraulic lifts, and Reed is tortured in a room near vacumn temperature, causing his body to become brittle, while Hill has been incapacitated. Ben tries to fight Doom, but without his powers he is helpless. Doom heads to his portal device, intending to combine its energies with the cosmic rays to create an ultimate power for himself. However, in the interim Alicia has released Agent Hill, who gets into Johnny's simulation and manages to free him. Johnny comes to Ben's aid and attacks Doom, distracting him long enough for Ben to break open the device containing the cosmic energies, in the process exposing himself to them and once again becoming the Thing.
Ben and Johnny free Susan and Reed, and the four are reunited and fight Doom. Though Doctor Doom is a formidable opponent, virtually untouchable in his armor, the four manage to get him on the ropes and force him to activate a self-destruct mechanism on his castle. They escape, and Doom launches himself into a high Earth orbit to escape the destruction, swearing revenge on the four of them. In the postlude, Alicia and Ben rededicate themselves to their relationship, and Reed and Susan declare they are to be married soon. Johnny laments he doesn't have anyone to join with him, but is introduced to a new young SHIELD Agent named Frankie Raye by Hill on account of her being reassigned to a new post. It is mentioned that they don't have any evidence of Doom's interference with other countries, and thus diplomatic immunity prevents him from being prosecuted by SHIELD. Still, they promise to keep an eye on him and the rest of the world...as a family.
[We cut to inside Reed's laboratory inside Four Freedoms Plaza as he is glancing through a microscope at something, while Susan is working on a computer concerning another experiment. An incessant beeping interrupts Susan.]
Susan: Reed, I think one of your many experiments just got done cooking or something.
Reed: No...that's just a deep space alert. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for changes in background radiation that might provide more information on warp engine patterns and...
Susan: Reed, I don't need the entire lecture. Just...shut it off.
[Reed smiles at his fiance and flips a switch on the screen. He looks at it briefly and his face goes white. Susan seems to see this.]
Susan: Reed what's wrong? You act like you've seen a ghost.
Reed: [composing himself quickly] Nothing dear. Nothing really. Just some odd readings is all. I need to consult with Stark to verify them. Excuse me.
[Reed walks across the room as Susan goes back to her data gathering. He holds the phone close to his face and speaks in whispers as he dials Tony Stark.]
Reed: Tony...this is Reed. I think we may have a problem...
[The camera cuts to the screen and shows a brief flare up of a warp signature, the readout dictating Earth-based, before we fade to black.]
Summary of Changes
Fantastic Four: Doomsday is an entirely original production within the Earth-11584 universe, and has no counterpart in the mainline MCU.
- Matt Bomer as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic- The leader and scientific genius of the team, who also has the power to stretch and manipulate his body to extreme levels.
- Katheryn Winnick as Susan Storm/Invisible Woman- Another member of the team and the girlfriend of Mr. Fantastic who has the ability to bend light around herself and others to give the appearance of invisibility or generate force shields.
- Logan Lerman as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch- The younger brother of Sue Storm who has the ability to ignite his body into flames and fly under his own power.
- Dean Norris as Ben Grimm/The Thing- Reed's Best Friend who was transformed into a super strong rock-like creature by the cosmic storm that granted the team their powers, and seeks to become human once more.
- Dan Stevens as Victor von Doom/Dr. Doom- The ruling dictator of the small Eastern European country of Latveria; a former classmate of Reed Richards and Sue Storm who, after being scarred by an accident, wears a highly advanced suit of armor that grants him a variety of powers.
- Lucy Liu as Alicia Masters- The blind love interest of Ben Grimm, who falls in love with him because of his personality and not his looks.
- Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill- The SHIELD Agent assigned to act as liaison with the Fantastic Four following the latter's signing of the Avengers Protocol in Civil War.
- Chris Gauthier as Harvey Elder/The Mole Man- An odd supervillain whom the Fantastic Four are fighting at the beginning of the film.
In addition, in a post credits scene, Robert Downey Jr. cameos as Tony Stark. Samara Weaving also cameos as Frankie Raye in the final moments of the film as a potential love interest for Johnny. Stan Lee cameos as a crazy man who claims to be a super villain at a local police station.
The film received mostly positive reviews in its release, with review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes rating the film at 82% with an average score of 7.1/10 based on 315 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "Doubling down on the family dynamic and wisely focusing on Dean Norris' The Thing, Fantastic Four: Doomsday feels like a Silver Age comic book come to life in all the right ways." Critics praised the performances, particularly by Dean Norris as Ben Grimm, though some criticized the lack of focus on the other members of the team. There was also some criticism at Doctor Doom's portrayal, with some critics calling him "sadly one-dimensional."
The film smashed September box office records, scoring $66 million dollars in its opening weekend. The film earned just over $200 million dollars at the domestic box office, just slightly ahead of its immediate predecessor, but also managed $700.8 million dollars worldwide, beating its predecessor by more than $50 million.