The 1960s were a fantastic time for comics.
It was the decade that Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and the pioneers at Marvel introduced the Earth 616 troupe of beloved superheroes to our mortal universe, including “Spider-Man,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Iron Man,” “The X-Men” and perhaps the world’s most iconic crime fighting quartet: “The Fantastic Four.”
For the latter — whose 21st century appearances on the silver screen in 2005, 2007 and 2015 were not so fantastically received by fans and critics alike — getting back to those early glory days could set the record straight for the Baxter Building tenants’ proper Marvel Cinematic Universe introduction, coming November 2024, said famed comic author and illustrator Alex Ross.
Ross, who released “Fantastic Four: Full Circle” on Tuesday, told The Post that starting the Four’s MCU journey in the 1960s is “the constant drumbeat that fans are pushing for.” His new work revives one such early era storyline about the dark “negative zone” dimension, and the design style developed by Kirby and Lee.
“To put them in the 1960s, so that they are time-locked to that original period, so that you can get some of that vibe off of the time. And then they can ultimately [time] travel around and come to the present from there,” Ross said of the MCU film to come, adding that it could give fans a “quite beautiful” glimpse into superhero life of that decade which hasn’t really been on cinematic display yet.
“I think it’d be a real benefit to show them back when pop stars became such a raging thing and show how their celebrity [status] was kind of a thing they had to live with in that time period…and they can meet The Beatles.”
The maneuver — similar to how Captain America began in his World War II setting in the MCU — would also serve to connect younger fans with the OG days of the comics, showing just how pivotal characters such as Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, plus Sue and Johnny Storm have been to Marvel’s interloping hero dynamic.
“It is the place where Marvel really begins, not just that it’s the first comic book that kicks off the Marvel Universe, but it’s the one that kind of introduces the most relevant, important pieces of that universe,” Ross said. “If you go back to Spider Man’s first issue number one, the [Fantastic Four are] in that same issue, [Marvel is] showing you right away, that this is an integrated universe of characters that will overlap and bumped into each other regularly.”
The only prospective peek that fans got into the new film was John Krasinski’s cameo as Richards’ Mr. Fantastic on an alternate, Earth 838 in last year’s “Dr. Strange and The Multiverse of Madness.” It remains unclear if Krasinski will continue playing Mr. Fantastic for upcoming MCU projects.
Along with nailing down a setting that’s been neglected in prior renditions of the Four, there’s still a major piece of their story in dire need of a revamp, according to Ross.
Arch nemesis Dr. Victor Von Doom.
“Well, for one thing you’ve got to right away, peel him off of being somehow related to the four of them,” Ross said. “That’s the gimmick [that’s been used] for three movies running. They created this concept as it was a five person team and he was somehow there and then would somehow break off to go crazy…That’s something we don’t need.”
Instead, it would best pay off to portray the mad scientist much closer to his roots from both the comics and royalty in the fictional European nation of Latveria, according to the illustrator.
“Show that he’s more than just a guy in an iron suit — he’s a monarch, and has control of a nation,” Ross added. “Those are distinct qualities that the films haven’t fully engaged with, they just wind up giving him electrical powers or something like that…He is, maybe their most famous villain, but it still wrecks it when they make him constantly a fifth member who just went rogue.”
The upcoming film also lends the opportunity of redemption for another villain cut who was planned to enter in a related installment of the pre-Captain America Chris Evans, Jessica Alba, Ioan Gruffudd, and Michael Chiklis early 2000s films.
The mighty and terrifying Galactus, who only appeared phantom-like in the final minutes of 2007’s “Rise of The Silver Surfer” can now properly wreak havoc across the Marvel Universes, Ross said.
“As it turned out, [Marvel] postponed the idea of bringing in physical Galactus, thinking that they’d have enough of a hit on their hands that they would show Galactus in the Silver Surfer’s own movie,” Ross said. “Since that didn’t actually finally happen. The key objective is: get him on site, the way that people remember him, bring in the impressiveness of his scale.”