Should the Fantastic Four be back with Marvel? Stan Lee thinks so


20th Century Fox has taken three subpar cracks at Fantastic Four. Now, Stan Lee wants to bring them home to Marvel Studios.

Before there was the MCU, there was only the Marvel comics. Superhero movies were more of a rare surprise, rather than a monthly staple. Marvel was perhaps the least interested in making films out of their heroes, and sold the rights to some major characters. Among those sold were Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four.

Since then, all of those heroes have seen multiple retellings of their stories. This summer, Spider-Man is officially making his debut in the MCU, thanks to a deal struck between Marvel and Sony. Now, as reported by GameZone, Stan Lee wants the whole family back together.

In a recent Q&A with Marvel’s founding father, a fan asked why Fox and Marvel can’t seem to reach an agreement to bring the characters into the MCU. Though he couldn’t reveal specifics, Lee did confirm his desire to make it happen.

“We should have all of our characters under Marvel,” Lee stated.

With renewed new hope that it could happen, let’s imagine what would come next. Could Marvel finally gives fans the Fantastic Four movie they’ve always wanted? Let’s review what Fox has done – or tried to do – with the character rights so far.

Fantastic Four (2005)

20th Century Fox took its first run at the story in 2005, starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis as the iconic team of heroes. As the first released movie adaptation, the hype surrounding it made the movie a box office success.

But fans almost immediately regretted spending that money, and the film faced rough reviews. Critics gave it a 27 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with fan approval only slightly better at 45 percent.

During his appearance at C2E2 this year, Stan Lee revealed that this version is actually the one film  adaptation of his characters that he’s not entirely thrilled with. But it wasn’t the heroes he had a problem with, it was the villain.

Frank Miller and Stan Lee discuss their legacies during their panel appearance at C2E2. Photo by Danielle Ortiz

“They didn’t do Dr. Doom right,” Lee stated bluntly. He went on to joke that Victor Von Doom isn’t truly a villain. “Anybody could want to rule the world,” he said, drawing laughs from the crowd.

Lee’s co-panelist, the legendary Frank Miller, added that Von Doom would have diplomatic immunity anyway. Stan Lee lit up at this, applauding Miller’s attention to detail. “I was testing to see if he was listening,” Lee joked.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)

Thanks to the first film’s box office success, Fox started production on a sequel just a year later.All four of the original stars returned to reprise their roles, including Chris Evans as Johnny Storm. He wouldn’t join the MCU until 2011, when he became Captain America.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer did improve upon the first movie, but not by much. The sequel brought in $2 million more than the original during its opening weekend, and sits at 37 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Fantastic Four (2015)

(L-R) Actors Jamie Bell, Miles Teller, Kate Mara and Micheal B. Jordan attend the “Fantastic Four” New York Premiere at the Williamsburg Cinemas in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, NY, on August 4, 2015.(Photo by Anthony Behar) *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***

Somehow, two barely passable adaptations of Fantastic Four led to a third attempt, branded by 20th Century Fox as Fant4stic. It’s possible that a third adaptation was always the goal, as the original stars initially signed three-picture deals. However, this version brought in new actors, casting Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Bell.

The movie tackled the Fantastic Four origin from a different timeline, focusing on the heroes in their college years. Despite its lackluster – to put it very gently – performance, there’s still a reported sequel in the works.

So, could returning to Marvel Studios be the answer?

Marvel’s Future

Should the rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four actually return to Marvel, it’s likely the story would be rebooted in every facet. And really, this is exactly what needs to happen.

First and foremost, new story lines need to be explored. Marvel could kill two birds with one stone, and depict Iron Man’s battle against Reed Richards from Ultimates: Disassembled. For movie fans who haven’t read the comics, seeing Mr. Fantastic as a villain could be jarring, but would definitely pull in audiences.

New actors would have to take on the characters, but Marvel’s latest casting choices leave no reason to worry. Sadly, this leaves Chris Evans out of the running. (The only reason Josh Brolin is pulling double duty is because Fox also owns the rights to Deadpool.) But we’ll take Cap as we can get him.

At this point, Marvel Studios has all but perfected the superhero movie recipe. After its most recent success with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Marvel looks to dominate the box office for the next few years.

Next: Captain Marvel Will Have Two Directors For Marvel Studios

Though fans, and now apparently Stan Lee, would love to see the X-Men and Fantastic Four return, it’s not highly likely at this point.

But we’ll keep hoping anyway.