Marvel Studio’s ‘Fantastic Four.'

Marvel Studio’s ‘Fantastic Four.'

Ever since the announcement of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Multiverse Saga (well… maybe even beforehand, let’s be honest), fans have indulged in MCU parlor games of speculation, where even non-news can, in its own perverse way, be considered news.

Castings deferred, production dates moved or extended, and theatrical release dates shifted — these are all clues from the beyond, tea leaves or puzzle pieces (depending on your metaphor of choice) to be sifted through.

Of course, several Phase Four films (most notably ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ and ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’) have offered up big hints about the unfolding direction of the MCU’s sprawling, multi-film narrative canvas.

But with things officially shifting into Phase Five with the impending release of ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,’ what can fans reasonably expect, looking out further on the horizon, with regards to the hotly anticipated return of the MCU’s first family, the Fantastic Four?

Director Matt Shakman Confirms ‘Fantastic Four’ Shooting Timeline

Director Matt Shakman, who turned in superlative, Emmy-nominated worked on ‘WandaVision,’ gave a bit of insight on things in a conversation with Collider, noting that filming on ‘Fantastic Four’ wouldn’t commence until "Early next year.”

In and of itself, in a vacuum, that might not seem like a big deal. But, along with 2024’s ‘Deadpool 3,’ Shakman’s film will not only be tasked with reintroducing beloved comic characters within the context of the MCU, but also feeding into 2025’s ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ and the following year’s ‘Avengers: Secret Wars.’

The former, set to be helmed by Shawn Levy, made news for confirming Hugh Jackman’s return as James “Logan” Howlett/Wolverine. And, of course, stars Ryan Reynolds and Jackman have continued to stoke the embers of that free media with a goodnatured online rivalry/bro-fest.

The casting of ‘Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm (last embodied on the big screen by Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Bell, respectively, in director Josh Trank’s 2015 effort) would therefore seem to require some significant star power. Shakman, in his chat with Collider, noted that nothing was yet firm and that any casting rumors circulating online were just that — rumors.

The ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ casting of John Krasinski as an Earth-838 version of Richards seemed, in its own way, a savvy potential trial balloon of sorts. Social media buzzed in advance of the film’s release (some fans weighing in positively, others crying foul, unable to see beyond Krasinski’s role of Jim Halpert), and the specifics of the Earth-838 revelation garnered big in-theater reactions with opening weekend audiences.

John Krasinski as Reed Richards in 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.'

John Krasinski as Reed Richards in 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.' Photo courtesy of

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Multiverse Saga Allows Producer Kevin Feige a Multitude of Casting Options

Producer Kevin Feige is a masterful showman and public face for the record-smashing Marvel Studios productions. And with the Multiverse Saga, he has a story series custom-built for sleight of hand and media puppet-mastery. In this sense, Marvel seems poised to potentially have its cake and eat it too.

With Jonathan Majors locked in as multiversal adversary Kang the Conqueror and making his debut in ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,’ it seems a safe bet that, whatever exact source material Feige and company choose to most lean into for the aforementioned ‘The Kang Dynasty’ and ‘Secret Wars,’ it will embrace maximum (controlled) chaos.

One wouldn’t be surprised, necessarily, to see Krasinski pop up as Richards — or even Teller. Opposite and in addition to, of course, another performer. So when Shakman says casting rumors are gossip, he’s not lying. Just expect that statement to also remain evergreen for the next couple years.

Marvel Studio's 'Fantastic Four.'

Marvel Studio's 'Fantastic Four.'

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Marvel Studios' 'Fantastic Four' is scheduled for release in 2024 and will be directed by Matt Shakman. The movie will be set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and is based on the Marvel Comics characters of the same name.