Plans for the Fantastic Four movie sequel are dead, and so to are plans for any Fantastic Four Marvel Comics. For the first time in five decades, there are not only no Fantastic Four comics in the works, but there are no plans for any either. It’s a bittersweet day for Marvel’s founding family – the original superheroes that gave birth to what we know as Marvel Entertainment.
But they didn’t go out without a bang. Marvel Comics’ biggest event ever – the modern Secret Wars – featured Fantastic Four characters at the center of it, namely Reed Richards (actually, two versions of him) and Doctor Doom. But there’s a very clear reason that when Marvel began promoting its post-Secret Wars “All-New, All-Different Marvel” books the Fantastic Four team was not among them.
NOTE: The following post contains SPOILERS for Marvel’s Secret Wars
The new Secret Wars (not to be mistaken with the two series of the same title from the ’80s) has been in the works for years and is largely the creation of writer Jonathan Hickman who plotted out an incredible three years worth of intertwining stories between his Marvel NOW! Avengers and New Avengers comics running from 2012 to April 2015. That led directly into May 2015’s launch of Secret Wars.
In the background of those Avengers stories the seemingly infinite amount of different Marvel universes were collapsing in on one another, with Earth being the incursion point and worlds literally colliding (unless one destroyed the other) until there were only two remaining: the mainstay 616 universe and the Ultimate universe. Secret Wars began when the final Incursion occured and out of it came Battleworld, an amalgamation of bits of different Marvel universes, saved by “God” who we learn is Doctor Doom. His right hand and Sheriff is Doctor Strange. His police force are an army of Thors.
Everything was intensely different and certainly as weird as it sounds, but this event allowed Marvel’s writers to explore a bunch of classic comic arcs, from the Age of Apocalypse and Marvel Zombies, to another Civil War and Old Man Logan. It let them throw away continuity and rules and bring back whoever they wanted, changing characters at will. Wolverine didn’t need to be dead anymore and Peter Parker and Miles Morales could web-sling side by side. It was the ultimate gimmick, but it also meant nothing was relatable. This Battleword and everything in it – literally replacing every Marvel Comics line – was ultimately something unlike anything in real-life. It was Marvel superheroes taken to the most extreme of fantasies, for better or worse.
It didn’t help that it was heavily delayed too. The All-New, All-Different Marvel universe began before Secret Wars had even ended, made even more confusing by the announcement of 2016’s big crossover event, Civil War II. But yesterday, on the second comic book release day of 2016, Secret Wars #9, the conclusion to Marvel’s biggest event finally arrived. It ends with original Reed – with the help of Molecule Man, Peter Parker, Miles Morales, Black Panther, and Namor, defeating Doom. Reed takes over the God-like powers of the universe and restores Earth, now known as The Prime Earth (R.I.P. “616”). And then he, Susan, their kids, and the Future Foundation use their powers to start crafting other universes, building the multiverse anew. They call themselves a “family” instead of superheroes now, and Reed calls himself “just dad” instead of Mr. Fantastic.
Their conclusion was a smart tactic to keep them alive but not involved in Marvel Comics. At least for now. This is the end of the Fantastic Four and the old Marvel Universe for the time being, but like all Marvel characters, there’s never really a true end.