This article contains WandaVision spoilers.
The Fantastic Four will finally come to the MCU in the next few years, with a feature film directed by Jon Watts. While we don’t expect the FF to make their Marvel Cinematic Universe debut until roughly 2023 or so (although 2024 might be more appropriate), there’s nothing stopping Kevin Feige and company from laying the groundwork for the MCU Fantastic Four with their current projects. And specifically, we think WandaVision episode 4 might be the first real indication of plans for Marvel’s First Family.
Yes, WandaVision has enough going on with its own weird and complicated story without setting up MCU properties that we probably aren’t going to see for another three years. Nevertheless, WandaVision episode 4 is the first time we’ve gotten a clearer picture of how the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe has changed since the events of Avengers: Endgame. Sure, Spider-Man: Far From Home gave us a little glimpse of a post-Endgame world, but it was mostly focused on how regular folks dealt with the aftermath of “the blip,” rather than how governments and their various super secret agencies adjusted.
WandaVision showing us the inner workings of SWORD is the first look at how the world is adjusting to the very real possibility of future intergalactic threats as well as how a post-SHIELD MCU handles their secret agencies. And since SWORD is very much focused on space and super science rather than secret agents, it immediately makes us think of the spacey origins of the Fantastic Four.
The introduction of SWORD to the Marvel Cinematic Universe opens up a galaxy of storytelling possibilities. From what we know so far, SWORD was at least partially “built from the ground up” by Maria Rambeau, likely after she was inspired by all of the extraterrestrial weirdness she witnessed firsthand in Captain Marvel. Her daughter Monica was a rising star in the organization, having already achieved the rank of Captain, before she was lost in “the blip.”
While SHIELD was very much a government organization focused primarily on terrestrial threats, SWORD looks beyond the boundaries of our planet, with an eye on keeping Earth safe from the next Thanos-level cosmic threat. That’s about all we know so far, but Monica and the mysterious SWORD director Hayward discuss a nascent “astronaut training program” that SWORD is developing. Apparently it isn’t going well, with participants either washing out or losing their nerve before they can complete the program.
The original Fantastic Four origin story by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Ben Grimm, and Johnny Storm were presented as not just astronauts, but astronauts willing to take the biggest possible risks in order to get into space. Why? Well, it was the height of the Cold War, and the only way the foursome could make sure that it would be good old-fashioned red blooded Americans who beat the commies in the space race was to steal an experimental rocket and pilot it themselves.
There’s a mysterious rocket being built in the background during Monica and Director Hayward’s little chat, as well. Maybe whatever is under construction here is what will end up taking the team into space. Perhaps they’ll be going up because they truly are the best and bravest that the MCU has to offer. Or maybe they’ll be a group of scientists who don’t trust Hayward’s motives and steal the rocket to make sure whatever data it collects is put to good use. In any case, don’t be surprised if the first time we meet Reed Richards in the MCU he’s working for SWORD.
SWORD appears to have an official color scheme of blue, black, and white. You can see it pretty much everywhere in SWORD HQ. That’s pretty Fantastic Four friendly to begin with.
But whatever official SWORD field gear that Monica is wearing when she first heads to Westview, feels like it could be the kind of thing that is an early stage Fantastic Four uniform. In addition to the colors, even the texturing feels like the kind of material we traditionally see in live action superhero costumes. It’s easy to imagine Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny going up in a rocket in suits that share a lot of these design details and returning with their physiologies altered.
Darcy detects a heavy presence of “cosmic microwave background radiation,” which is described as leftover radiation from the Big Bang itself. While it’s kind of pseudoscientific technobabble here in the MCU, the concept is based on CMB, the “cosmic microwave background” which, according to Space.com “represents the heat left over from the big bang.”
CMBR is very much a “thing that is vaguely real but repurposed for Marvel storytelling” in the vein of the “cosmic rays” which gave the Fantastic Four their powers in the comics. It’s easy to imagine how CMBR could become the focus of their origin in the MCU.
Not only that, there’s even a theory out there that higher than normal CMBR could be what eventually attracts Galactus to Earth, since that cosmic glutton’s origin story predates the Big Bang itself. While we think folks might be getting ahead of themselves with that one, it’s not completely out of line with a potential Fantastic Four origin story, either. Hear me out for one more minute…
In 1996, Jim Lee, Brandon Choi, and Scott Williams relaunched the Fantastic Four comic as part of Marvel’s “Heroes Reborn” initiative. It was a fresh start for the franchise, and kind of a dry run for Marvel’s eventual “Ultimate” line, which told modernized, potentially movie-friendly versions of their characters’ origins. In this, the team goes up into space to investigate a “stellar anomaly” that is directing radiation towards our planet, and it’s that radiation that gives them their powers. It turns out that the heart of that “stellar anomaly” was none other than Galactus. It’s a tenuous connection, I admit, but we know how the MCU likes to keep their origin stories tidy and connected.
It may not seem like much, but we’ve learned never to underestimate the MCU’s ability to seed cool stuff pretty far in advance.
So, what do you think? Is the appropriate fourth episode of WandaVision teasing how the MCU will eventually introduce their Fantastic Four? Let us know what you think in the comments!