"I actually developed Fantastic Four when it was at Fox, and this would have been about 2002 or 2003. I was doing a movie at Fox at the time and they were gonna do Fantastic Four, and I went in and pitched to [then Fox Filmed Entertainment CEO] Tom Rothman," Reed said during an Ant-Man and the Wasp IMAX screening and Q&A hosted by Collider.
When Reed pitched his spin that would have depicted the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby-created superheroes in their native 1960s, Rothman — typically not a proponent of superhero films — didn't bite.
"I developed it for about a year and we went through some different permutations and some different writers, but yes, one of the big ideas was a set-in-the-'60s thing that at the time was structurally gonna be basically like [The Beatles' 1964 comedy-musical] A Hard Day's Night, where we were not going to even deal with the origin story," Reed said.
"It was just going to be like you're in Downtown Manhattan and they're there. It was a pretty exciting idea. At the time — again this was 2002 or '03 — early on, way pre-MCU, I felt like Fox was not gonna make it."
When it came to the studio bringing "the first family of Marvel" to the big screen, Reed added, "it felt like they sort of wanted to make a B-movie out of it. So we parted ways."
Fox later debuted its modern day Fantastic Four in 2005 under Barbershop director Tim Story, starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis and Chris Evans as the dysfunctional team of unversed superheroes forced to pull together to defeat the maniacal Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon).
A 2007 sequel followed before Fox rebooted the franchise entirely in the Josh Trank-directed Fant4stic, the critically mauled box office bomb currently marking the last big screen outing of Marvel's royal family.
Disney-owned Marvel Studios is expected to relaunch Fantastic Four when the Walt Disney Company completes its $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox — a deal that will also bring such Marvel Comics characters as Deadpool and the X-Men under the purview of Marvel Studios chief and master planner Kevin Feige, who said earlier this month the ability to use the formerly hands-off characters fulfills a 20-year dream.
"I'll say that when I was working on Fantastic Four all those years ago, Kevin was at Marvel at the time, he was a junior executive under [longtime Marvel producer] Avi Arad. So Kevin knows of my love and passion for Fantastic Four," Reed said when asked if he's approached Feige with a pitch.
"I think there's been a real reluctance to discuss any of that at Marvel, for two reasons really — because they have Captain Marvel coming out, they have [Avengers] Endgame coming out, there's a lot of big stuff going on right now."
Feige has insisted Marvel Studios is holding off development on any future X-Men or Fantastic Four projects until given the official go-ahead by higher ups, to be handed down when the deal is finalized within the next few months.
"I also think until that merger is actually final — I honestly don't know when, I'm hoping it's soon, but I have no idea — there's a real reluctance to talk about it because it's not real yet. And I think there might even be a legal reluctance to talk about it, because it's not real yet," Reed said.
"But I will definitely say I am a huge Fantastic Four fan and the idea of Fantastic Four potentially coming back into the MCU is thrilling to me, in the way that bringing Spider-Man into the MCU was thrilling to me."2comments
Asked about his future projects — likely a third Ant-Man, yet to be formally unveiled by Marvel Studios as it continues to mostly keep its slate beyond 2019 a closely-guarded secret until after Endgame — Reed said only "there's some stuff I've been developing, quietly developing."
Captain Marvel opens March 8, followed by Avengers: Endgame April 26 and Spider-Man: Far From Home July 5.