Editor’s Note: The following incorporates spoilers about “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
The finest scene in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” takes place in an alternate universe, however it previews the most important alternatives for Marvel on this one, in addition to the most important challenges on the prime of its to-do listing.
In the movie’s most crowd-pleasing sequence, the title character meets a ruling counsel in one other universe that features Reed Richards (performed by John Krasinski), the chief of the Fantastic Four; and Professor Charles Xavier, with Patrick Stewart reprising that function from the “X-Men” franchise.
For college students of Marvel’s serpentine display screen historical past, the inclusion of these two properties, each of which had been beneath the stewardship of twentieth Century Fox earlier than Marvel’s mother or father Disney acquired its leisure belongings, factors to what's more likely to be a giant a part of the studio’s subsequent chapter: capitalizing on two mistreated titles with deep, deep roots in comic-book lore.
Fantastic Four has been tailored twice earlier than, in 2005 (adopted by a sequel) and with a weak reboot try a decade later. But now Marvel Studios controls its future, having introduced plans for one more stab on the title that kicked off Marvel’s renaissance within the Sixties beneath author Stan Lee and artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.
Indeed, Lee ceaselessly spoke of Fantastic Four because the granddaddy of Marvel’s silver-age renaissance, the comedian that he wrote for himself on the verge of giving comedian books up completely. As Lee recalled it in his later years, the inspiration got here from his spouse Joan telling him, “Why not write a book the way you want to do it?”
The cosmic-ray-altered quartet’s recognition paved the way in which for Lee’s epic inventive output with Kirby – which included Thor, the Hulk, X-Men, the Avengers, Ant-Man, and reviving Captain America – and Ditko, his collaborator on Spider-Man and Doctor Strange.
Yet on display screen, Fantastic Four has been a story of frustration, together with a misguided low-budget Roger Corman-produced film within the Nineties that was by no means formally launched; and an animated collection that for contractual causes changed the Human Torch, whose TV rights had been optioned away, with a wisecracking robotic.
X-Men, against this, has loved appreciable success because the 2000 film directed by Bryan Singer, however the franchise has fallen on arduous instances of late, with a pair of business and important flops: “Dark Phoenix,” which badly tailored a storied comic-book saga and underperformed on the field workplace; and “The New Mutants,” a horror-tinged offshoot impacted by Covid-related launch delays, not that the movie would have flourished beneath very best situations.
The Disney-Fox deal that closed in 2019 triggered speedy hypothesis a few grand reunion weaving Fantastic Four and X-Men into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in the identical method that Marvel has helped assume the inventive reins of Spider-Man by way of its partnership with Sony, the longtime holder of these rights.
Still, the wheels of film improvement flip slowly, which is why seeing Mr. Fantastic and Professor X in “Doctor Strange” seems like a major appetizer for the feast to come back.
Marvel has already introduced a Fantastic Four film however just lately skilled a short lived setback, with Jon Watts, the director of the newest “Spider-Man” trilogy, withdrawing from the challenge.
Looking forward, Marvel faces main expectations from followers desirous to see X-Men restored to its early glory and Fantastic Four elevated to a cinematic stature worthy of its exalted place in comic-book historical past. But the rewards might be equally large.
Having established its components of interlocking motion pictures and now TV exhibits, Marvel has exhibited a knack for assembling advanced puzzles. While the tease in “Doctor Strange” properly illustrates the multiverse as a realm of infinite prospects, the passion about bringing X-Men and Fantastic Four into the combo may simply be reworked into disappointment in the event that they in some way get these items unsuitable.