There were many who hoped that the rumors of trouble with the production (and editing, and re-shoots) of Josh Trank's Fantastic Four would prove to be little more. Sadly, there turned out to be plenty of fire to go along with the smoke. Nevertheless, you can't adapt a comic book property to film without drawing on the years of comic book history that created it (and in the case of this film, re-imagined it for a new generation).
Needless to say, there will be SPOILERS in our list of Fantastic Four easter eggs and trivia, so read at your own risk.
The new origin and supporting characters may be seen as a departure from the usual comic story, but the film actually takes most of its cues from the "Ultimate Fantastic Four" - a re-imagining of the team by Mark Millar, Brian Michael Bendis and Adam Kubert featuring an update of most of the story's outdated elements. Most notably, a change to the origin of the team's superpowers: they are now the side effect of a trip to the Negative Zone - an otherworldly realm that resembles this film's "Planet Zero."'
The Glowing 'F'
Bryan Singer first decided to connect his X-Men films with the company title cards, making sure that the "X" in the Fox logo remained lit just a moment longer when it faded to black. The trend continued for each film in the series, but director Josh Trank's Fantastic Four made it a studio signature, with the logo's 'F' getting the same treatment this time around.
A matter teleporter may seem like an ambitious goal for your average 8 year old, but audiences learn that it isn't the craziest project the young Reed Richards has pursued. When he unveils his future career breaking down the barriers of quantum physics, his school teacher asks if this is connected to his previous plan of building a flying car. Reed tells him that project has been abandoned, which is bad news for older fans, considering that the team's Fantasticar has shuttled them from fight to fight for decades in the comics (and even Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer).
The Baxter Institute
While the movie brings Reed, Susan, Johnny and Ben together in downtown New York, they're far too young to take up residence in the Baxter Building headquarters - their comic book base of operations. The team receives their own sophisticated lab by the movie's closing, but the Baxter name lives on, with the Baxter Institute now a school for the highly intelligent, with Franklin Storm a high-ranking authority who recruits Reed to join the institute's ranks.
Although Victor's name remains the one most famous to mainstream Marvel fans, his moniker is never truly adopted once he turns to the dark side. But it wasn't hard for audiences to tell that he had a less than optimistic view of mankind's future, warning that the discovery of a new, untouched world would be stripped of its resources, instead of studied. As thanks for his grim outlook, Sue refers to him as "Doctor Doom" - a wink to the fans along with the villain's signature hooded cloak.
Johnny Storm was a speed-loving thrillseeker long before he became the Human Torch: a fact proved with his introduction, competing in a street race in a car he built himself. It's a fiery explosion that sends him to work on the Planet Zero project, but that isn't the only bit of foreshadowing fans get. Hanging from his rear view mirror is an unmistakable Fire Flower - the Super Mario Bros. power-up that grants the player the ability to throw fireballs (just as Johnny will later in the movie).
The Negative Zone
The Fantastic Four may not exist in Marvel's Cinematic Universe, but Victor clearly thinks the same way as the authorities in the Avengers world. When he first learns of the government's interest in Planet Zero, he assumes the worst, wondering just how soon the State will turn it to nefarious purposes, sending the CIA, or using the other-dimensional realm to house "political prisoners." It just so happens that in the case of Reed's discovery of the similar "Negative Zone," that's exactly what it's used for in Marvel's Civil War crossover event. Movie fans will likely never see such a plot beat, but that didn't stop the writers.
The film version may show that both Reed and Ben grew up a train ride away from Manhattan in Oyster Bay, New York, but the comics told a different story. The Fantastic Four originally called Central City home, and it was from that location that Reed's rocket took off, catapulting the members of the team into space (and the game of superheroics). When the four negotiate for their own base to investigate their powers, they're informed that since they're now in charge, they can call it what they like. But it's known among those who call it home as "Central City."
Sue may be turned to for her uncanny ability to spot patterns, put to use to track Reed down when he goes on the run. But audiences can also do a little sleuthing of their own. One screen in the facility's lab reveals an IP address quite clearly: 188.8.131.52. It's not random: enter the string of numbers into your browser, and it leads to a Marvel wiki page on the fictional nation of Latveria - the home of Victor Von Doom.
Given all the troubles behind the scenes, it's not a total shock that the finished version of Fantastic Four is without a cameo from legendary Marvel creator Stan Lee (after appearing as the team's friendly mail carrier in the previous Fantastic Four). However, Johnny does refer to one of the Baxter techs as "Stan" - which may be the closest fans will get.
Those are all the easter eggs, bits of comic book trivia, and subtle references fans can look out for when they decide to see Fantastic Four for themselves, but if you have any that have been missed, please share them in the comments.
If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss details about the film without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, please head over to our Fantastic Four Spoilers Discussion.
Fantastic Four is now in theaters. Deadpool opens February 12, 2016; X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016; Gambit on October 7, 2016; Wolverine 3 on March 3, 2017; Fantastic Four 2 on June 9, 2017; and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.