Marvel Studio's 'Fantastic Four.'

Marvel Studio's 'Fantastic Four.'

Even before Marvel boss Kevin Feige formally confirmed at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con that the company had set a release date for a new ‘Fantastic Four’ movie, there had been chatter about the possibilities for Marvel’s “first family” and their future in the MCU.

Yet while Jon Watts, director of the successful most recent ‘Spider-Man’ trilogy had been tasked with shepherding the new movie, he left the gig in April, citing a need to focus on other projects (he has a movie with Brad Pitt and George Clooney starring and is also overseeing a ‘Star Wars’ series for Disney+, among other things).

Now, though, it appears Marvel has found a replacement. First broken (albeit in rumour form) by The Direct, word has hit the trades that ‘WandaVision’ director Matt Shakman is in talks to handle the movie.

Shakman, of course, did a great job with the stylish, quirky and emotional ‘WandaVision’ and would appear to be a good fit for the Four. Though his big screen directorial experience has so far been limited to indie crime thriller ‘Cut Bank’ in 2014, he has an extensive resume on TV, including shows such as ‘Succession’, ‘The Boys’, ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Billions’.

Paramount, meanwhile, clearly thought he was up to the task of a ‘Star Trek’ movie, putting him at the helm for the latest, in-development installment of that franchise. Though if he locks in the job on ‘Fantastic Four’, that might mean that the Enterprise will need a new cine-captain.

So, the Fantastic Four, then. They’re among the most famous superheroes from the comics world, but in case you’re not that aware of them, the Four were introduced into the pages of Marvel comics in 1961 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Fantastic Four comic book characters

Marvel's Fantastic Four. Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

The core characters are Mister Fantastic/Reed Richards, a scientific genius and the leader of the group, who can stretch his body into incredible lengths and shapes; the Invisible Woman/Susan “Sue” Storm, who eventually married Reed, who can render herself invisible and project powerful invisible force fields and blasts; the Human Torch/Johnny Storm, Sue’s younger brother, who can generate flames, surround himself with them and fly; and the monstrous Thing/Ben Grimm, their grumpy but benevolent friend, a former college football star, Reed’s college roommate and a good pilot, who possesses tremendous superhuman strength, durability and endurance due to his stone-like flesh.

The characters have been brought to screens several times before, including an unauthorized Roger Corman adaptation (“to screens” is a misnomer in that case, since it’s mostly available as a bootleg), comedy drama takes in Fox’s 2005 outing ‘Fantastic Four’ and 2007 sequel ‘Rise of the Silver Surfer’, followed by a darker reboot in 2015, which didn’t thrill fans or score well at the box office.

As with the introduction of Spidey back in ‘Captain America: Civil War’, the studio is keen on skipping the origin story for the Four. “A lot of people know this origin story. A lot of people know the basics. How do we take that and bring something that they’ve never seen before?” Feige told The Hollywood Reporter in July after stepping off the convention stage. “We’ve set a very high bar for ourselves with bringing that to the screen.”

If Shakman’s deal goes through, we’d expect to see the Marvel boss announce him at next month’s D23 event.

‘Fantastic Four’ is currently scheduled for release on November 8th, 2024, forming part of the MCU’s Phase 6.

Elizabeth Olsen is Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany is Vision in Marvel Studios’ 'Wandavision.'

(L to R) Elizabeth Olsen is Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany is Vision in Marvel Studios’ 'Wandavision,' exclusively on Disney+.