Top 10: Villains for Fantastic Four (2023) by Jerry Whitworth
Teased at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 and formally announced at Disney’s 2020 Investor Day, the Fantastic Four are coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Likely emerging in 2023, Jon Watts of the MCU Spider-Man films is set to direct the upcoming motion picture. Fans have speculated the groundwork for the movie will be set-up everywhere from the upcoming Spider-Man film to the WandaVision series on Disney+ (both projects allegedly tied to 2022’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness) to 2022’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania to Secret Invasion on Disney+ (likely dropping in 2022). However way by which Marvel’s first family makes the transition, the first question in the audience’s mind is what threat the team will face in their movie. Given the presence of the Kree and Skrull in the MCU already, odds are they’ll be employed elsewhere. With the abject failure of the Inhumans, that project and its characters may never be heard of again in the MCU. As the theatrical rights status of Sub-Mariner remains unknown, Atlantis could likely be overlooked as well. Thus, lets look at what villains could show up in the upcoming Fantastic Four movie.
An Eternal hailing from the planet Eyung, Grom was a warlord that conquered hundreds of worlds over the span of eons. When Grom’s forces encountered a foe in the Gigantians that offered a counterattack that would wipe out his empire, the billions of inhabitants of Eyung sacrificed their lives so that Grom would gain the power to seek vengeance for their demise. Cocooned for eons, Grom was transformed into the Overmind, an entity of immense power that included psionic abilities that made him capable of besting some of the mightiest cosmic beings in existence. However, over the passage of time of his rebirth, his foe ceased to exist. So, the thirst for conquest of his entire race ever present in his mind, Overmind sought to claim Earth where he faced the Fantastic Four. Turning the people of Earth against the heroes, the Fantastic Four were forced to align with their nemesis Dr. Doom to try and combat Overmind only to be saved by one of the Elders of the Universe (which seem to have been merged with the Celestials in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) in the Stranger. Overmind returned time and again, battling the likes of the Squadron Supreme and, of course, the Fantastic Four. One of the Fantastic Four’s greatest enemies, Overmind is lesser known than many others. Further, with the Eternals being introduced soon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, chances are someone like Overmind might be saved for their rogues gallery given how slim their options are from the comics.
A despot hailing from the Microverse (known in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the Quantum Realm), Psycho-Man’s empire of worlds became overpopulated leading to his desire to begin conquest of the macroscopic universe. Enslaving the people of Earth to execute his plans, the combined efforts of the Fantastic Four, Black Panther, and Inhumans forced him to retreat. Time and again, Psycho-Man and the Fantastic Four battled each other, arguably their best known conflict saw the Invisible Girl turned into his sadistic slave Malice that he unleashed upon her family (the aftermath of which saw the heroine change her codename to Invisible Woman). Another one of the Fantastic Four’s greatest villains, Psycho-Man’s connection to the Microverse/Quantum Realm could see him saved as a foe for the Ant-Man franchise (as, with the Eternals, it has few rogues) and given the prominence of Malice in the Fantastic Four’s history, it’s likely something like that might be saved for down the line rather than fresh out of the brand’s gate.
The barbarian ruler of the planet Baluur in the Negative Zone, Blastaar was deposed by his subjects and set adrift in space until he followed a lost Mr. Fantastic back to Earth. Time and again, Blastaar came to Earth seeking its conquest and faced the Fantastic Four in battle. In time, he became an ally turned rival of Annihilus, another despot from the Negative Zone. Over the years, Blastaar branched out beyond the Fantastic Four, drawing the ire of the Kree, Nova Corps, Shi’ar, and Inhumans. In a way, this works against Blastaar’s emergence against the Fantastic Four in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as, at his core, he’s a brute more in line with facing the likes of the Guardians of the Galaxy or Captain Marvel (or Nova if rumors are to be believed he’s MCU bound).
Arguably the most powerful foe to ever face the Fantastic Four, Owen Reece was a timid, scrawny man transformed by a laboratory accident into the reality altering Molecule Man. Seeking vengeance against those Reece felt wronged him in life, Uatu the Watcher warned the Fantastic Four of the threat he posed. Limited by his own imagination, the team fought and defeated Molecule Man time and again with the villain coming back stronger each time as he realized more and more what immense power he wielded. The incident that imparted Reece with his vast abilities drew the attention of the seemingly all-powerful Beyonder who drafted the Molecule Man along with other villains and Earth’s heroes for the Secret Wars event. When Dr. Doom acquired the powers of the Beyonder, he realized the potential threat Reece posed and convinced him to retire from the life of villainy with his teammate Volcana. When the Beyonder regained his powers and threatened the universe, Molecule Man played a significant role in saving all of existence. From then on, Molecule Man bounced back and forth between savior and destroyer generally with a sense he just wanted to be left alone. A foe like Molecule Man has a good chance of emerging in the Marvel Cinematic Universe especially if rumors are to be believed the next Infinity War-like event will be Secret Wars. However, the sheer power and threat posed by the character maybe daunting for a first outing for the theatrical brand.
A historical scholar from the 31st-century, Nathaniel Richards decided to employ time travel technology created by Dr. Victor Von Doom to travel to circa 2960 BC Egypt and conquer it as the Pharaoh Rama-Tut (retroactively, part of a plan to bring the mutant that became Apocalypse into his service). His reign, however, saw the likes of the Fantastic Four, Dr. Strange, and Avengers emerge in his time to combat him for various reasons. The former eventually defeated Rama-Tut, forcing him to flee into the time stream creating various incarnations of himself including the Scarlet Centurion, Kang the Conqueror, and Immortus. With Kang the Conqueror set to emerge in the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania in 2022 portrayed by Jonathan Majors and speculation that the Young Avengers (which prominently featured a teenage version of Nathaniel Richards called Iron Lad) are bound for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there’s little doubt Rama-Tut will appear. However, given his connection to Dr. Doom’s time travel technology, chances are that villain will likely be established first before he could face the Fantastic Four.
Born from the conflict between the Terminex and Celestials, Terminus was the last defiant act of the former to try and avenge their destruction by the latter. Born from a microscopic infection that transforms the lifeforms of a world into a massive gestalt monstrosity, a Terminus arose from an unknown world and traveled across the stars on a mission to extinguish all life. For millennia, Terminus was a plague that eventually found its way to Earth and faced the Fantastic Four. Trapping the vast creature in the Earth’s core, Terminus unleashed its infection on the world drawing the planet’s various heroes to band together against its spawn. The combined efforts of three Avengers teams managed to destroy Terminus but the threat would return time and again. Like Overmind, Terminus is one of the Fantastic Four’s greatest threats but is of lesser renown. Also like Overmind, given its connection to the Celestials (and their connection to the Eternals), something like Terminus might be saved for the Eternals’ limited gallery of foes.
Noted earlier with Blastaar, Annihilus was a despot of the Negative Zone who wielded the awesome Cosmic Control Rod. When the Fantastic Four entered the Negative Zone for the first time, they battled Annihilus who then became aware of the Earth with a desire to conquer it. In that time, he crossed paths with Blastaar setting the pair up for a series of unions and bitter battles with each other. Likely, Annihilus is best known for the Annihilation event where he lead the Annihilation Wave across the universe forcing an alliance of dozens of worlds and cosmic heroes (and villains) to defeat him. It’s for this reason Annihilus may not necessarily be bound for the Fantastic Four in the Marvel Cinematic Universe because his Annihilation Wave maybe saved for the developing cosmic brand with properties like Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel (and maybe Nova).
Literally one of the biggest threats to ever battle the Fantastic Four, Galactus is a giant cosmic being older than the universe itself. Constantly in a state of hunger to feed his vast energies, Galactus scores the universe for worlds rich in life to feed upon. In this effort, he is supported by a herald of his creation. Such have included Tyrant, Fallen One, Silver Surfer, Air-Walker, Firelord, Terrax, Nova (Frankie Raye), Morg, Plasma (Heroes Reborn), Red Shift, and Stardust. When the Silver Surfer discovered Earth, Uatu the Watcher warned the Fantastic Four of the coming danger leading to numerous encounters between the team and Galactus. There is little doubt Galactus is bound for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, the sheer level of threat he poses might prevent his use from a first film. Also, given his botched portrayal in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), the character is in need of rehabilitation for anyone that might remember that franchise killer.
Nemesis of the Fantastic Four, Dr. Victor Von Doom is the monarch of Latveria. A genius in technology and magic, Doom began his rivalry with the future Mr. Fantastic Reed Richards while they matriculated together at Empire State University. When Doom built a device to communicate with the dead, it blew up scarring his face. Expelled from school, Doom blamed Richards for the explosion and dedicated his life to proving himself his rival’s superior. The Fantastic Four’s most frequent and dangerous sparring partner, every film based on the brand has featured a depiction of Doom. Falling into a similar trap as between Superman and Lex Luthor, the rich tapestry of the Fantastic Four’s rogues has largely been ignored as live action adaptations have failed to accurately capture either Doom or his most hated foes. It’s for this reason the Marvel Cinematic Universe might hold off on the villain for the first film as there must be a perception in the public that Dr. Doom is the only good enemy of the Fantastic Four and that the group must have so few rogues. Not to mention, Doom is hardly exclusive to the Fantastic Four. One of Marvel’s most prominent villains, he could easily fit elsewhere against the likes of Iron Man (such as from the story “Doomquest”), Dr. Strange (“Triumph & Torment” being notable), Spider-Man (“Dr. Doom, Master of the World”), and the Avengers (“Emperor Doom”),
The first foe of the Fantastic Four, the Mole Man was engineer Harvey Elder who explored the concept of the Hollow Earth theory leading to his discovery of Subterranea, an underground kingdom. Feeling vindicated after being shunned over his theories, Elder became the Mole Man who subjugated the creatures of Subterranea and declared war on the surface world. Becoming a frequent opponent of the Fantastic Four, Mole Man bounced between fits of wanting to conquer the surface and being content to be left alone to rule over Subterranea in peace (when he wasn’t at war with other rulers living beneath the surface). As seen with the Avengers (2012), Marvel isn’t afraid to loosely adapt its source material when Loki brought the heroes together in both mediums. Further, Mole Man could be a good choice as he’s unknown to the general audience, offers a threat that’s great but not terribly dire, and he’s not Dr. Doom.
Honorable mentions: Sub-Mariner, Puppet Master, Mad Thinker, Diablo, Red Ghost, Wizard, and Miracle Man.