2023 is a big year for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Marvel Studios and Disney moving its ongoing saga into Phase 5. Fantastic Four won’t be releasing until the MCU reaches Phase 6, but the narrative arcs that are sure to be vital for the movie will likely begin to take shape far before that. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Qunatumania, for instance, will potentially feature plenty of close ties to Fantastic Four; as the scientific premise of both projects is an easy parallel to make.
When speculating on the villains for the next chapter in the big screen history of Marvel’s first family, there are plenty of hints from previous hits and upcoming releases that point toward the use of very specific characters. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania might cement those inclusions, but which villains could make a major impact on the Fantastic Four and perhaps even the future of the MCU?
Doctor Doom, Kang The Conqueror and Galactus
There are a few notable names that surface repeatedly when rumors emerge surrounding the latest incarnation of an FF movie. Doctor Doom is arguably the Fantastic Four’s most dangerous and iconic foe. The character’s personal rivalry with Reed Richards has always given their conflicts an emotional edge, while the combination of technological and scientific innovation, alongside his continued magical development, has ensured Victor Von Doom is one of Marvel’s most uniquely skilled warriors. The Latverian leader might have already been set up thanks to the political fallout of Sokovia’s destruction, but he isn’t the only familiar face.
Kang is another assumed antagonist with clear links to the Fantastic Four franchise. Those of you who might not follow the comics closely won’t be aware that Kang (real name Nathaniel Richards) is assumed to be a distant relative in the Richards family tree. With Kang’s arrival in Loki, assured dominance in Quantumania and oncoming big bad position in the Multiverse Saga, he’d be a worthy conqueror for the team to battle against.
Finally, Galactus is the alternative member of the FF’s rogues gallery, and he previously appeared in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. With the cosmic side of the MCU always expanding, it’s an easy plot to write that the world eater has been attracted to Earth based on the sheer energy given out by the Infinity Gauntlet’s use. Perhaps the Celestial surge in Eternals can act as a further catalyst for Galactus and his Heralds to arrive.
While Doom, Kang and Galactus are notable names that every pundit will surely make mention of, there are those supporting characters that could lay the groundwork for their arrival. Ravonna Renslayer, Kang’s love interest in the comics, is a perfect example after getting initially introduced ahead of the time traveller in Loki. Victorious could hold a very similar position for Victor Von Doom. Born Zora Vukovic, the Latverian is a Doom loyalist through and through.
Taking on the title of Victorious, famed for her merciless edge and ability to serve at great self-sacrifice, Vukovic is so respected by Doom that she almost becomes his wife. That descended into chaos after a brief love affair with the Human Torch which could provide an emotional conflict to include within an adaptation. The assembly of raw skill and brutal talent, comic book narrative potential and notion that she could become an opening antagonist for the arrival of Doom himself, all nod towards Victorious becoming an unexpected but worthy boss battle for the Fantastic Four.
There may be another link to Kang that could spinoff from Quantumania and lead the way for the Secret Wars event. The Beyonder is a vital part of the comic book crossover of the same name, and a significant adversary of the Fantastic Four. With rumors spreading that the Beyonder could be another Variant of Kang himself, the character’s presence in Fantastic Four seems even more likely.
Traditionally a member of a race of godlike beings known as Beyonders, the cosmic entity is incredibly powerful, and able to reshape reality however he sees fit. The figure had brought together Earth’s mightiest in an alternative reality where they were forced to battle, but the Beyonder has also shown a great interest in manipulating the Multiverse. He produces the kind of universal seismic shifts that Reed Richards would take notice of, whether this Beyonder is an alternate Kang or not.
Exploration of the Quantum Realm is going to become a key plot detail of the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp adventure. But there are other dimensions that are yet to be explored, that the scientific community of Earth-616 could be about to stumble across. Among them is the Negative Zone, an alien universe populated by deadly creatures.
The Negative Zone has been repurposed and redesigned throughout comic lore, from becoming a superhuman prison to hosting a range of investigative endeavours for the betterment of humankind. But fans may know that the monstrous Annihulus is essentially king of the Negative Zone, with the insectoid tyrant and its band of slaves and soldiers consistently looking to add Earth to its kingdom. The age-old threat of the FF might be a natural fit considering the direction of traffic for the MCU and its pocket dimension developments.
The Skrulls and the Fantastic Four have been life-long rivals, with the Super Skrull project in particular causing a major headache for Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny. However, none of them could have been prepared for the might of Titannus, a manipulative conqueror with the strength of the mad titan and a powerful army alongside him.
The Skrulls are already becoming major players in the MCU and Secret Invasion is sure to take them to the next level. The introduction of Titannus would allow Fantastic Four to continue to play on some of the themes of previous phases, while also battling a threat that’s worthy of their capabilities.
Titannus emerged as a false ally initially, claiming to be a fallen son of a lost world, beaten down by the violence of the galaxy and brainwashed. In truth, he was the tyrannical leader that brought bloodshed wherever he roamed. That character twist brings another layer of intrigue and adds to the argument that this Super Skrull gone wrong could be an unconventional choice.
MCU films are always searching for secondary villains that act as a bit of canon fodder to demonstrate the powers of the heroes and in this case, their potential when working as a unit. The Wizard fits into that role nicely and touches on those scientific themes that the likes of the FF usually form a structure around. Regardless of how comical the character has been presented in the past, Bentley Wittman is still a force to be reckoned with.
As a man of supreme intelligence, the inventions of the Wizard could genuinely be lethal to even Marvel’s sharpest minds. Obsessed with performing his ‘magic’ tricks, which riffs on the notion that advanced technology could be perceived to be sorcery, the premise of the Wizard as a character blurs the lines between the MCU’s recent development of both science and wizardry in a way that makes him a perfect fit for Phase 5.
There are so many other quick-thinking threats of high intellect that might serve as unconventional secondary boss battles. Elihas Starr is more commonly known as Egghead on the page, and is one such villain that has made a name for himself through his highly developed schemes. The character briefly cameos in Ant-Man and the Wasp as the Ghost’s father, seemingly dying in a terrible accident.
Comic book fans are well aware that such an incident is more likely to create super powers than it is to actually maim and with Quantumania comes new opportunities. If Starr was to be returned in some capacity, there surely wouldn’t be room to deal with the antagonist fully in the movie, but someone with the ego of Egghead might just be an easy addition for Fantastic Four as a rival looking for competition in the form of the most advanced family in the world. Egghead isn’t a physical opponent for the team, but he is a great background player that can be used to demonstrate Marvel’s continued commitment to developing lesser-known figures.
Egghead isn’t the only villain with a natural setup from Quantumania. Psycho-Man’s origins are tied to the Quantum Realm, or rather the Microverse in the source material. Psycho-Man’s leadership of a whole civilization takes a nasty turn when overpopulation forces the dictator to take swift action. Referred to as Revka Temerlune Edifex Scyros III, the king feels the only appropriate solution is to invade Earth-616’s larger domain.
Ant-Man and the Wasp do not appear to be facing Psycho-Man despite the obvious connection, but that does leave the Fantastic Four’s classic foe open to feature in the next cinematic outing of Marvel’s first family. Boasting a suit of armor that can control people’s emotions, this disturbing science fiction menace doesn’t get nearly enough credit as one of the FF’s oldest and repeatedly competent rogues.
Mole Man and Giganto
The first story in Fantastic Four history featured the bizarre Mole Man and his beastly creation, Giganto. Quantum mechanics are being freely thrown around and the exploration of the MCU’s monstrous side has begun with Werewolf By Night, so Mole Man’s discovery of beings of pure destruction like the magnificently colossus Giganto to fight Mister Fantastic won’t be much of a stretch…
The MCU is yet to develop a Kaiju-esque story and these threads could easily be pulled on to forge something unlike anything audiences have seen in this franchise before. While Mole Man himself is almost laughable, what he can do with those scaled-up entities would provide the Fantastic Four with the kind of enemy that only they could stop as a unified team.
Owen Reece can manipulate matter much in the same way as the Beyonder. It’s no surprise therefore that the latter actually used the former for an experiment, to see if he could boost his own power. Molecule Man might have been used and manipulated, but his very existence in the MCU could be a nod to what’s to come with the Multiverse Saga.
Molecule Man is a long-term villain for the Fantastic Four and one that they can only beat by relying on every piece of their arsenal. Powerfully unstable and unable to comprehend how he should use his abilities, there are certainly comparisons that could be made to Wanda Maximoff in regards to how she forged a false reality using her gifts. Molecule Man has also been an ally to the FF though, laying the groundwork for the kind of redemptive arc that the MCU loves to produce. Narratively speaking his inclusion as a future foe just makes sense.
With multiple villains to consider, each with their own claim to a comprehensive Fantastic Four plot, it’s unclear who Marvel Studios will ultimately choose to feature in the production. However, these antagonistic origins may have already been setup or are about to be launched via Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, making the upcoming release a must-watch for fans of the FF.