How Marvel Could Fold The Fantastic Four Into The MCU

"Johnny, that should NOT be glowing...."
Hello Marvel. Well, the crying over Avengers: Endgame has stopped, or at least slowed a bit, and we should have a talk. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has hit an age where it will soon start going through changes. It’s that awkward preteen phase, filled with insecurities, weird growth spurts and raging… Y’know what, let me start this over.
Now that I.P. omnivore Disney devoured Fox and Marvel has regained control of X-Men and Fantastic Four there’s been a lot of hope and speculation about when and how we’ll see them folded into the MCU. Figuring out how to smoothly cram Mutants into play requires a level of math I have only the slightest capacity for. The FF on the other hand, well, I think they will be much easier. There’s just less moving pieces. And therefore I have ideas. I doubt I’m wholly unique with these two possible paths but they revealed themselves to me in a fever dream brought on by overexposure to geek radiation, and I am now compelled by a tribunal of comically oversized cosmic entities, to share them with you. 
Or I just wanted to write this. Either or.
The Draper Plan

Look! It's Reed Richards and Howard Stark!
Long ago, I mentioned on my podcast an idea that an ongoing TV series might suit The Fantastic Four best, and further, that setting it during the pre or post space race era would work nicely. Think Mad Men with superpowers and, eventually, aliens. Place it firmly in the late 60’s early 70’s period and aesthetic, but, you know, with less nicotine and tar. The upcoming Disney+ service would be perfect for this. Give it 10 episodes that allow this series to exist on a respectable budget and we would get some rather amazing spectacles (even if they might have to be dialed down from grand expectations). An interesting angle this show could/should/would take is to operate in a similar way that the Agent Carter TV series did; as a MCU historical crossing point. Howard Stark could pop up, as could Hank Pym, or any other person or event previously hinted at or fully known to inhabit the time. 
But alas, “Marvel’s First Family” is more likely destined for the big screen, TV is for spinoffs and animated stuff! So let’s get into what I think is more likely to happen.
The Musk Approach
If the FF are to be inserted into the MCU in modern day, the original instigation for the team to head into space doesn’t exist. The Space Race of the 1960’s no longer applies, and so the motivation needs to update. Well, maybe it just needs to be re-contextualized.
New Yorker's really changed after this. For about 3 months.
Consider for a moment you are a civilian living in the MCU. Perhaps you know people who dismiss the arrival of aliens through a sky portal above Manhattan (as seen in the first Avengers flick). Now that may seem like a stretch, but in our world there is a contingent that has a hard time believing hard facts. So why wouldn’t some normies in the MCU see the “Incident in New York” as some master conspiracy? Despite facts and video footage. Some may think it’s a kind of grand obfuscation. 
But more importantly, that event might likely also inspire scientists, engineers, technicians (and even average joes and theologians) to re-examine their beliefs, leading some to re-focus on space research and exploration. Quantifiable proof of aliens (especially an invading armada of them) should rock the MCU’s human society to its core. In the real world, that day would change us irrevocably. So why wouldn’t it do so in the MCU? 
What Would Will Hunting Do?
The question then for me becomes: what would become of an Elon Musk type, or a Stephen Hawking type, in a world like this?
Maybe a brilliant young man, a scientist-inventor, fresh from college, already wide-eyed about the possibilities of a universe filled with life, sees the Incident in New York and discovers his true calling: unravelling the new mysteries of Outer Space. He joins, or is recruited by a group similar to Space-X. A private (or public, but not governmental) organization dedicated to space research and exploration. Perhaps, they are trying to figure out the workings of that crazy wormhole/portal. Reed is there for a short time and then The Snap happens.

His friend Ben, a test pilot for the Air Force, turns to ash and wafts away into nothing.

Then this scientist, we’ll call him Reed, becomes rather obsessed to understand how that happened his buddy. 
5 years go by. Thanks to the undeniable nature of the Snap, the world now fully believes in aliens and there is a call to arms by many who fear the obvious threats that exist in the vastness, and a new space race is born. One where private corporations and contractors are all vying to find ways to protect the earth externally. Stark Enterprises, A.I.M., Roxxon and other large MCU corporations all make cameos. Reed is now number two at the org but is terrible at the managerial aspects of the position, he’s too invested with his projects.
Relax Sue, it's just an eye exam.
Suddenly, Ben returns. As does all the other Snappers. And the Organization convinces Reed to convince Ben to come in for physical tests. Eventually Ben signs up with the org and joins a project Reed has been working on. There is a plan to re-create the portal/wormhole that appeared over New York, on a smaller scale, and to do it just outside earth's orbit, y’know, for safety reasons. They plan to send a small drone through, take readings, and pull it back. After original candidates all flunk out of Space Flight training Reed is left with a team not fully qualified, but still otherwise able, to pull off the mission.
New org additions, siblings Sue and John Storm, are put on the mission, much to Reeds dismay. They’re too green. She’s a shy research level scientist and Johnny is a hot shot pilot who got kicked out of the NASA training program. But this is all they have, and because the team is short skilled, Reed volunteers to go too.

They go. The first privately funded manned space mission. The wormhole opens and the drone goes through but the opening becomes unstable, radiation levels flux, a massive energy wave bursts through hitting their craft. The hole shuts, trapping the drone on the other side as their craft plummets to earth, wildly off-course. 
New game! "Is it Cosplay or is it Corman?"
They regain some control of the ship, avoiding hard earth, crashing instead in the waters just off the coast of Latveria. 
From there maybe you can guess the rest: they get powers, Latvarian soldiers arrive, The 4 freak out a bit, soon they meet a handsome young king named Victor, Johnny’s wise ass mouth causes a fracas, he loses control of his powers and horribly burns Victor. Reed’s guilt keeps him there long enough to suggest a specialized apparatus, a metal suit to make Victor functional again, helps design it and heads back to the states. Victors people misread Reed’s designs and the suit becomes a permanent for Victor, who goes a bit mad, and blames Reed and The 4 for his situation. 
More hijinks ensue, there’s a big, bombastic ending, , Victor does some evil stuff, gets defeated, Sue asks Reed on a date because he never would, Victor screams at the sky that vengeance will be his, credits roll and pause for a scene that ties to the MCU at large, in the post-credits the drone comes back through the wormhole and … something follows, aaaaand we’re done.
Sure, I could flesh out that third act a bit more, but I’m not getting paid for this. If you’d like to pay me to do that, contact me. 
Something like this, but much cooler. And Ben isn't doing a sexy pose.
I doubt I’ve hit Marvel’s plans on the head, but I think I’ve found a fun way to set up The FF using some preexisting events as motivation. Heck, maybe they’ll make the space project a SHIELD related thing, have a Nick Fury cameo and all that. All I know for sure is that the FF are coming to a screen near you, after all, the MCU needs another scientist-inventor to replace the one we've lost, Banner can’t do all the heavy lifting on his own.
PS: Somewhere in there we could also establish that Reed might just be a new science mentor to a young kid from queens, but instead of a father figure, it’s more like a big brother? I don’t know. I don’t write movies.

Bill Sweeney was raised on a steady diet of comic books, Saturday morning cartoons and Stephen King. These days, when he isn't pretending to be too busy to answer his phone, he hosts The Wicked Theory Podcast, an ongoing audio travesty.

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