The Fantastic Four is a 2014 film set in the Earth-11584 continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is the sixth film in Phase 2 of the MCU and the 13th film released overall. It introduces the Fantastic Four and the Inhumans to the MCU, although the latter group had been hinted at in Iron Man 3. The film is a co-production of Marvel Studios and 20th Century Fox, as part of a rights-sharing agreement between the two over the rights to the characters. The film was a hit critically and financially, making just over $650 million dollars worldwide.
Marvel Studios had wanted to do a Fantastic Four film for years, but couldn't due to the rights being tied up with various film production companies, resulting in the infamous 1994 unreleased Roger Corman film as well as two subpar films released by 20th century Fox in 2005 and 2007 respectively. In 2012, with no other film in sight of being released, 20th Century Fox agreed to a rights sharing deal with Marvel on the characters of the Fantastic Four, which set the ball in motion to bring them into the MCU. At the same time, planned production on an Inhumans film (which was to be directed by screenwriter Zak Penn) was stalled, and new FF director Brad Bird decided to borrow concepts from that Zak Penn script and combined it into his own Fantastic Four script. Matt Bomer, Dan Stevens and Katheryn Winnick were the first characters to be cast as Reed Richards, Victor von Doom and Sue Storm respectively, with Kelsey Grammer added to play the villain Puppet Master shortly thereafter. Oscar winner Adrien Brody, who had previously been attached to the Inhuman film, came on board as Black Bolt, with Stargate: Atlantis star Joe Flanigan cast as his evil brother, Maximus.
During early production there were rumors of Fox wanting to use Josh Trank as the director of the film, following his success on the found footage film Chronicle. However given the level of production Brad Bird had made, the decision was made to allow Bird to direct the film. Filming began in October of 2013, while wrapping up in January of 2014.
In 2003, graduate student Reed Richards is studying interdimensional travel and cosmic background radiation at Empire State University, alongside his fellow students Susan Storm and Victor von Doom. Though both young students are vying for the affections of Susan, it is clear that Susan is smitten with Reed, even if he is somewhat cold in his interactions with her. She does joke with him a bit, saying maybe he should invent something useful, like a flying car. At a demonstration of their theories concerning interdimensional transportation, Victor attempts to correct what he perceives as a flaw in Reed's calculations, but in reality causes a massive backlash that causes an explosion in the laboratory. Victor is assumed dead, and the experiments are stopped.
Ten years later, Reed Richards is an independently wealthy scientist who seeks government funding for a private spaceflight out beyond the moon, to test a new type of radiation detector, collect further information for Jane Foster's Field Bridge technology, and a new reusable spacecraft that he and his lifelong friend, test pilot and former Air Force Captain Ben Grimm, have perfected. The government agrees, and Reed begins to plot out his mission. Despite having drifted apart over the last ten years, Susan reconnects with Reed during the course of the experiment's preparation, introducing him to her much younger brother Johnny, who acts as her intern. The four of them initially plan to use astronauts to pilot their spacecraft, but an election threatens the grant that would make their journey possible. In order to avoid this, Reed convinces the other three to serve as the crew, with Ben acting as the pilot.
The launch goes off without a hitch, and the four begin conducting their experiment within the Van Allen Belts around the Earth. However, some kind of passing interference between Earth and another Realm throws their ship off course and into an oncoming solar flare. The ship's shields hold, but interact with the exotic particles in the vacuum to form gamma rays and other forms of high energy cosmic radiation. Ben manages to steer the ship out of the solar wind, taking the brunt of the force of the wave himself, and plots a course back for Earth. After a rough reentry, the ship crash lands just outside the Florida Everglades. The four of them, clearly disturbed by what has happened, manage to use Reed's connections with the Air Force to get a flight back to New York. Once there though, they quickly discover that their DNA has been altered to give them unique abilities. Johnny has the ability to control fire and ignite himself. Susan can make herself invisible and seem to form force fields around individuals. Reed's body has become like a rubber band and can stretch in all manner of forms. Finally, Ben has transformed into some kind of rock-like thing. Before they can take stock of this, they stumble upon a hostage situation at a nearby bank. Reed, Susan and Johnny use their newfound powers to defuse the situation, while Ben stays out of sight, his visage concealed by a trench coat. Upon questioning, the goons that the four busted have no memory of their actions, but that is overlooked at the moment. The media, fresh off the Thunderbolts craze, now start referring to the trio as the Terrific Three.
No sooner do the four get settled into Reed's home in the top floor of the old Baxter Building, then they notice a story on the news of a woman attacking Wall Street banks. Reed and company head out, with Ben still reluctant to be seen in his Thing form. The trio though are inexperienced and somewhat outmatched by the woman, calling herself Medusa, who has total control over her hair, and seeming greater strength and endurance than normal. This is especially true when the woman is joined by a seeming half-man half bull named Gorgon, and a young woman who can control the elements calling her self Crystal. When Ben sees the three struggling on TV, he overcomes his reluctance and comes to their aid, forcing the three criminals to retreat, though Crystal is captured. Though Ben is embraced by the three, he still feels like a monster given all the stares that he is receiving from the assembled crowd. Reed vows to him to find a way to change him back.
While the four try to find more information about their powers, Crystal is interviewed and says she has no recollection of anything. She claims to be "royalty" though won't say anything more. As quickly as she is interrogated, she is broken out of jail by Gorgon. She questions him, asking him if he is going to bring her back to Attilan, but instead he takes her to a rundown warehouse on the outskirts of town. There, a man recrafts a lifelike marionette sculpture of Crystal, placing her under his control once more. Medusa addresses him as Puppetmaster, and asks what their next move is. He says it will become clear in due time, but he needs some more information on these four new players. He makes contact with someone and asks for more materials.
Back at the Baxter Building, amidst an argument by Ben as to why the others can assume human form but he can't, Reed can only surmise that it might be because he bore the full brunt of the cosmic storm. Unfortunately their investigation is interrupted by individuals teleporting into their home. A large dog named Lockjaw, and two men with him, tell them not to meddle in their affairs again or attack members of the Royal Family of Attilan. One of the men, calling himself Maximus, says that the other, named Black Bolt, could level an entire city block with but a whisper. The Thing charges Black Bolt, but is quickly smacked into a nearby wall with a simple backhand. Maximus warns again that they will deal with the other Inhumans, and for the 4 to stay out of it.
It isn't long before Medusa and company are again attacking civilians in Central Park. Despite the warnings, the group intercedes. Halfway through the fight, though, Thing suddenly turns on the other three and starts attacking them. Reed tries to figure out what's going on, but they are overwhelmed by the combined strength on display. Suddenly Maximus shows up with Black Bolt and Lockjaw, trying to convince him now that these "Terran Scum" are trying to corrupt the mind of his beloved. Thing again tries to mindlessly fight Black Bolt, but again Black Bolt shows restraint. Medusa and company suddenly seem to come to their senses and Medusa approaches Black Bolt. The two have a silent conversation, and all of the Inhumans suddenly disappear thanks to Lockjaw. The NYPD show up, blaming the Fantastic Four, and Thing, for the destruction caused in the park, and the 4 have to depart quickly.
In an ornate throne room somewhere else, Maximus states the case that the humans are close to learning about them now. Moreover, the number of superpowered humans has increased both due to the theft of "gas deposits in Antarctica" and just through random chance. The time for the Inhumans to return has come. Black Bolt, through Medusa, says that the damage can be blamed on the four who they confronted, and that they won't intercede anymore. Maximus merely storms off. Surreptitiously, he approaches Lockjaw, which unbeknownst to him Crystal sees. Maximus teleports himself back to the warehouse and speaks with the Puppetmaster, again unknowingly followed by Crystal. She overhears him saying Black Bolt wasn't swayed, and the time has come to try out their equipment on him. Puppetmaster replies that he has already tried, and that Black Bolt's mind is shielded by his own powers. True enough, Maximus replies, but if they manage to acquire some new neural interface technology from Stark, it might be more than enough. They catch Crystal as she tries to intercede, and in the fracas she manages to destroy her own marionette, but not the ones for the Thing or Medusa and Gorgon. She runs off into the streets of New York, afraid.
Back at the Baxter Building, Reed and company are trying to make sense out of all of this. The NYPD has basically placed them under house arrest, and SHIELD is en route to try and "debrief" them. Suddenly they are approached by Crystal, who explains the situation. She explains that the Inhumans are an offshoot of humanity genetically engineered thousands of years earlier. Though they once resided in Antarctica, they now reside on the dark side of the moon in a city called Attilan. She talks about Maximus and the Puppetmaster, and the four resolve to go to the warehouse and confront him. They sneak past their guards and get to the roof, where Reed has a new invention he's been periodically working on, Susan's fabled flying car, and the four depart for Puppetmaster's location, while Crystal mentally contacts Lockjaw for extraction.
At the docks, Thing is suddenly taken control of again by the Puppetmaster, and is forced to fight his friends. Maximus also engages in limited combat with Susan. The Thing nearly kills Reed, but fights free of the control through sheer will power and chucks a huge piece of concrete at the marionettes, smashing them. At that point, Black Bolt and the other Inhumans arrive with Lockjaw, and Maximus tries to explain away his actions. Black Bolt merely offers a single grunt in reply, forcing Maximus back against the wall and knocking him unconscious. Puppetmaster tries to flee, but the FF stop him in his tracks.
SHIELD director Nick Fury arrives, revealing that SHIELD has known about Attilan for some time, but hasn't made official contact. Through Medusa, Black Bolt says that the time may come for Inhumans to join the rest of humanity, but that it is not today. The Inhumans depart, taking Maximus with them while Puppetmaster is placed in NYPD custody. Fury asks if SHIELD can count on the four...the Terrific Trio and the Thing or whatever they're calling themselves. They look at each other, with Reed replying that maybe they should call them the Fantastic Four.
[We fade in on a throne room in an Eastern European castle. A large monitor is set up in the center of the great hall, a GNN report concerning the recent actions of the Fantastic Four being aired with ace reporter Christine Everhart.]
Everhart: The newly christened Fantastic Four have promised to be a force for good, working with local authorities to track down the missing money from the string of thefts committed by the Puppet Master's gang. Reed Richards, the leader of the group, did not give any further updates concerning their future plans...
[The report is shut off as we see an armor clad man sitting on the throne, a glass of wine in his hand. This is Doctor Doom.]
Doom: Enjoy the adulations while you can, Reed Richards. I am content to wait in the shadows while you have your moment in the sun. For sooner than you think, Doom shall have his revenge.
[Doom throws the wine goblet at the monitor, smashing it into pieces as we cut to black.]
Summary of Changes
The Fantastic Four is a completely original film within the Earth-11584 universe, and has no corresponding film in the mainline MCU.
- Matt Bomer as Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic- A super genius leader of the team, who can stretch his body to extreme limits. Also in a relationship with Sue Storm.
- Katheryn Winnick as Susan Storm/Invisible Woman- A fellow scientist and girlfriend to Reed Richards, who can manipulate light around her body to make herself invisible and create force fields around herself and others.
- Logan Lerman as Johnny Storm/Human Torch- The younger brother of Susan Storm, who can ignite his body into fire at will, enabling flight and controlling fire.
- Dean Norris as Benjamin Grimm/The Thing- A lifelong friend of Reed and test pilot, transformed by cosmic radiation into a rock-like monster called The Thing.
- Kelsey Grammer as Phillip Masters/The Puppetmaster- An eccentric would-be criminal who can control people with lifelike marionettes he seems to psionically link to.
- Adrien Brody as Black Bolt- The leader of an offshoot of humanity known as the Inhumans, who has the ability to destroy almost anything just by speaking.
- Isla Fisher as Medusa- Wife and Interpreter for Black Bolt, and thus Queen of the Inhumans.
- Joe Flanigan as Maximus the Mad- Power Hungry Cousin of Black Bolt with strong psionic potential, who secretly seeks to overthrow Black Bolt. Is the one actually linking Puppetmaster's devices to their victims.
- Isabelle Cornish as Crystal- An Inhuman with the Power to Control the Elements.
- Luke Goss as Gorgon- An Inhuman who looks like a satyr of mythology, with enhanced strength to match.
- Frank Welker as Lockjaw- An Inhuman Dog with the power of teleportation.
Stan Lee cameos as the head of Mission Control, who sends the team on their mission into space. Dan Stevens also cameos as Victor von Doom. Samuel L. Jackson reprises his role as SHIELD director Nick Fury at the end of the film.
The film received mixed to positive reviews upon its 2014 release, with review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes scoring the film at 75% with an average rating of 7/10 based on 269 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads "Though it definitely falls in the second tier of Marvel films, this latest version of the Fantastic Four easily surpasses its predecessors with a good cast and fun to spare." Critics praised the overall performances, particularly that of Dean Norris as Ben Grimm, but criticized the general lack of action and the apparent overuse of the Inhumans.
The film surprised many opening on Halloween weekend, earning $49.4 million dollars at the domestic box office in its opening weekend. The film finished with $198.1 million dollars at the domestic box office, en route to a worldwide total of $650.2 million.