If The FANTASTIC FOUR Were Back At Marvel Studios, There'd Be No GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Movie

Two years from today, Marvel Studios will release Guardians of the Galaxy into theaters as the linchpin of their Phase II cosmic endeavor. But is there another Marvel superhero team more applicable to their goals.

Editorial Opinion

This write-up is a quasi followup to my initial musings on why Josh Trank might not actually be able to direct Fox's Fantastic Four reboot. That article essentially spells out that based on the facts of their Daredevil dilemma, Fox's deal with Marvel stipulates that their comic book properties must be in production within 7 years of the last film or the rights revert back to Marvel. On that logic, Fox has until 2014 to start Fantastic Four or Marvel's First Family is headed back home. Of course, I seriously doubt Fox will let anything like that happen; despite a less than stellar critical and fan reception, both Fantastic Four films turned a profit for the studio. What's likely to happen is that Trank will simply have to pass on the project due to commitments to other studios. [As an aside, based on what Fox is doing with Marc Webb regarding The Amazing Spider-Man sequel, I hope Warner Bros. returns the favor.] What sprang out of that piece was a lot of film journalists echoing the same sentiment along with further speculation on what the future may hold for Trank. While I like Trank as a young, up-and-coming filmmaker, what I continued to think about were the Fantastic Four rights and what they mean to both Fox and Marvel. This led me to this notion: If Marvel had the rights to the Fantastic Four, there would be no Guardians of the Galaxy (GotG)

Think about it. The purpose of The Guardians of the Galaxy is to:
A.) further develop the cosmic aspect of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
B.) introduce another superhero group for juxtapostion against The Avengers
C.) further tease big baddie Thanos for Avengers 2
D.) all of the above.

If you guessed D.) then move to the head of the class. Looking back at interviews with the likes of Kevin Feige, Jeremy Latcham and Louis D'Esposito, you'll find hints that 'Going Cosmic' was planned a long time ago by the Marvel Studios which is why there is/was also an Inhumans film in development. The GotG have apparently won out over The Inhumans but in the public sphere of awareness the Fantastic Four resonate much higher than either superhero group and have a longer and richer history of space exploration and alternate dimension adventures. Imagine Cap, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, S.H.I.E.L.D. teaming up with Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch and The Thing to take on Thanos in Avengers 2. Picture Tony Stark not meeting someone of equal intelligence in Bruce Banner but someone ABOVE it in Reed Richards. As an introduction into the MCU, Marvel could go with the standard origin story of the four astronauts heading into space and returning with super powers or they could gloss over the origin in the opening credits and have them head of on an expedition into the Negative Zone. It's rumored that in the GotG, the team will fight Michael Korvac who will be presumably have some connection to Thanos based on what's been said about Phase 2. In a Fantastic Four movie, the group could square off with Annihilus who has a very interesting comic book history with Thanos,to say the least.

With the introduction of the Guardians we get another team dynamic in the MCU but I'm not entirely sure how that team could be portrayed all that different from The Avengers, especially with the announced roster. In the comic books, the Guardians generally view the Avengers as a beta team who deals with low-level threats compared to some of the adversaries they combat out in space. That's about the only interesting dynamic between the two teams that could be an interesting plot device on film. That element works in the pages of comic books but it would be very difficult to convey the wide array of foes the GotG combat in a 2 hr film. In the FF4, you don't just have another team, you have a family. In an Avengers sequel, you'd have a loose-knit alliance to juxtapose against a genuine family as opposed to the collaboration of two similar teams. And in terms of cosmic, it doesn't get any more interstellar than auxiliary Fantastic Four characters like Silver Surfer, Inhumans, The Watcher and Galctus.

With most of the Marvel movies, there's a heavy influence of the Ultimate line as let's face it, aside from a few characters, the 616 origins of many characters are simply dated. In the pages of Mike Carey's Ultimate Fantastic Four, we saw the team take on the Mad Titan. Of course, Thanos outmatched the team in terms of power but that incredible brain of Reed Richards was enough to outsmart Thanos and win the day in the end. That would certainly something to see play out on the big screen, where the mightiest of heroes in the MCU fail, the brain power of Reed Richards saves the day.

Guardians of the Galaxy arrives in theaters exactly two years from today but I wouldn't be surprised if Fox also releases the maybe-Josh-Trank-helmed Fantastic Four reboot in 2014 as well due to that pesky obligation in their contract with Marvel. The summer of 2014 will assuredly be one to watch closely and if the Fantastic Four is a smash success, you can bet the Marvel execs will be doubly kicking themselves.

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