Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige says it's "sad" knowing super-geniuses Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Reed Richards won't put their big brains together when Marvel reboots Fantastic Four. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, launched with Iron Man in 2008, ended its Infinity Saga with Stark's sacrifice in 2019's Avengers: Endgame when the armored Avenger died vanquishing Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his alien army. As Marvel hands the reins of its franchise to a new generation of superheroes in Phase Four and beyond, Feige laments the First Family's delayed entry into the ongoing MCU:
"Yes," Feige told CinemaBlend when asked if he's "sad" Tony won't meet Reed on-screen. "I mean, there's… you know, as the comics have always done, you inherit the continuity that is the point in time of that ongoing story, and that's where we are. So yes."
Feige added, "I spend more time thinking about being excited about seeing things than I do [spend being] sad about not seeing things."
In the Marvel comic books, Stark and Richards are genius inventors-slash-superheroes and frequent collaborators who were among the most prominent supporters of the Superhero Registration Act during the Civil War crossover event.
Stark and Richards were both members of the secret superhero group known as the Illuminati. That group, formed in the aftermath of an intergalactic alien war, counted Black Panther of Wakanda, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt of the Inhumans, Namor the Submariner, and Charles Xavier of the X-Men as members.
The Marvel chief creative officer announced Fantastic Four with Spider-Man director Jon Watts in December, making it the first former Fox property rebooted by Marvel Studios. Parent company Disney acquired 21st Century Fox for $71.3 billion in March 2019, bringing the Fantastic Four and X-Men family screen rights under Feige and the Marvel Studios umbrella.
Feige first hinted Fantastic Four was in the works at San Diego Comic-Con in 2019, saying he is "extremely excited about those characters and about bringing Marvel's first family up to the sort of platform and level they deserve."
Downey has repeatedly dispelled rumors about a return to the MCU, which will continue the Iron Man franchise in the form of Disney+ spin-off series Armor Wars, starring James 'War Machine' Rhodes (Don Cheadle), and Ironheart, about genius teen inventor Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne).
"Playing Tony/Iron Man was hard and I dug deep. I had an incredible 10-year run that was creatively satisfying," Downey told the Hindustan Times in December. "I've done all I could with that character and can do other things now. Now, being middle-aged, you start looking at the back nine and realize this is all part of the journey, and things end. I am fortunate and eternally grateful to have wound up where I have."
Marvel Studios has not announced a release date for Fantastic Four. Feige's latest, WandaVision, premieres new episodes Fridays on Disney+.
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