Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania could springboard a rebooted Fantastic Four into the Marvel Cinematic Universe before Marvel's first family returns in their own feature from Spider-Man director Jon Watts. The Ant-Man threequel from franchise director Peyton Reed, the next big adventure for insect-sized superheroes Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), marks the feature film debut of the time-traveling Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) after his rumored appearance in Marvel Studios series Loki. The 31st Century-born Nathaniel Richards is a potential descendant of Reed Richards, a founding member of the Fantastic Four, who could make their MCU debuts when Quantumania arrives in 2022 or 2023.
In the Marvel comics books, Kang frequently uses his futuristic technology to traverse time and space to battle the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. Comic book connections aside — including the possibility that the Fantastic Four draw their power from the Quantum Realm instead of cosmic rays from space — it's Quantumania's director who might be the one to introduce the foursome of adventurers into the MCU.
Long before Kevin Feige and Disney-owned Marvel Studios hired Reed to take the reins on 2015's Ant-Man after the departure of original director Edgar Wright, Reed developed a 1960s-set version of 20th Century Fox's Fantastic Four. The team made their way to the big screen in the Tim Story-directed F4 in 2005, starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis, and Chris Evans as a dysfunctional team-slash-family of modern-day superheroes.
"I developed it for about a year and we went through some different permutations and some different writers," Reed said when reflecting on the never-made project last year. "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."
Like the first issue of the 1961 comic book from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Reed's Fantastic Four would have started with the team already super-powered and in the middle of an action sequence. (The middle of that same issue would flashback to some time before, revealing the four's origin across five pages.)
"It was just going to be like you're in Downtown Manhattan and they're there. It was a pretty exciting idea," Reed said. "At the time — again this was 2002 or '03 — early on, way pre-MCU, I felt like Fox was not gonna make it." Because it felt like Fox wanted to "make a B-movie out of it," he added, "we parted ways."
Nearly two decades later, Feige announced Fantastic Four with Watts in the director's chair. But it's Reed who could reveal the four, assuming Feige introduces the team the same way he brought a rebooted Spider-Man (Tom Holland) into the MCU in 2016's Captain America: Civil War.
The superhero showdown sees Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) recruit a rookie Peter Parker, whose fateful spider bite occurred off-screen some six months earlier. Holland's wall-crawler would return in the solo Spider-Man: Homecoming, coming three years after the sequel to Sony's first Spidey reboot — Andrew Garfield's Amazing Spider-Man 2 — in 2014.
Another character who hit the ground running was Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) in his MCU debut, forgoing an origin story in both Civil War and his Ryan Coogler-directed solo pic Black Panther in 2018. In the case of Spider-Man, who had his origin story told twice over two iterations of the franchise, Feige assumed audiences knew Peter's well-told backstory and started in media res.
The Fantastic Four find themselves in a similar position to Spider-Man. After appearing in 2005's Fantastic Four and 2007 sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, the four started from scratch in Josh Trank's Fant4stic in 2015. The failed reboot re-told the four's origin story, this time transforming a think tank of teens into superhumans by way of an expedition to "Planet Zero."
Like Civil War, which spun-off Spider-Man and Black Panther into their respective solo features, Quantumania could be the launching pad for Feige's FF. This would bypass their twice-told origin story in favor of an already established team, simultaneously re-introducing them to potentially wary audiences and jumpstarting Watts' Fantastic Four.
Marvel has not revealed release dates for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania or Fantastic Four.