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“Making three Spider-Man films was an incredible and life changing experience for me,” Watts said in a statement (via Variety). “I’m eternally grateful to have been a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for seven years. I’m hopeful we’ll work together again and I can’t wait to see the amazing vision for Fantastic Four brought to life.”
Marvel Studios Chief Creative Officer Kevin Feige also released a statement. “We were looking forward to continuing our work with [Watts] to bring the Fantastic Four into the MCU but understand and are supportive of his reasons for stepping away,” Feige said. “We are optimistic that we will have the opportunity to work together again at some point down the road.”
The MCU’s reboot of the Fantastic Four was first announced in December 2020 during Disney Investor Day. The news was exciting to Marvel fans, as Disney/Marvel Studios gained back the rights to the characters after the Fox-Disney merger the previous year.
Since that announcement, however, there has been no news on the Fantastic Four front about a potential release date, casting, or who is writing the script.
But now that Watts is no longer involved, we can’t help but wonder who Marvel might bring in next to helm the Fantastic Four film?
Some of the top line options could potentially be folks with existing experience in the MCU, and with the franchise dozens of movies in a this point, there are plenty of options. Some of the most tried-and-true contenders could include folks like the Russo Brothers (who directed two Captain America films and the last two Avengers movies), Jon Favreau (director of the first two Iron-Man films that kicked off the MCU), or Peyton Reed (the first two Ant-Man films, as well as its upcoming sequel).
All three know the Marvel universe, and have experience that could be valuable with launching the Fantastic Four. Favreau launched the MCU itself with the first Iron Man, while Reed has built out his own little sci-fi corner of the Marvel Universe with the Ant-Man films (and those certainly feel like a tonal fit for how Fantastic Four could turn out).
Or perhaps they’ll try to find someone else with strong superhero cred outside the MCU, such as Patty Jenkins (the first two Wonder Woman films) or Lord and Miller (the creative producing duo behind the acclaimed animated film Into the Spider-Verse, as well as plenty of other hits). The duo famously exited Disney's Solo during production, so that could be a strike, but they've still made some of the most innovative animated films of the past few years (such as Netflix's stellar The Mitchells vs The Machines). So it could be the right time to let them take another swing at a tentpole live action film.
Of course, there's always the chance they’ll dig beyond the obvious options for a director who hasn’t tackled a blockbuster movie yet to bring their own special take to cinema, such as they did with Chloe Zhao and Eternals. Or, you know, maybe just call Zhao (she already has experience introducing a new team to the MCU, after all). If fan-casting has anything to say, perhaps A Quiet Place's John Krasinski could pull double duty behind the camera and play Reed Richards, too?
This is all speculation, of course, while we wait to see what Marvel does with Fantastic Four, and if it gets bumped further down the future calendar to accommodate the shake-up. It at least sounds like an amicable split, so hopefully the studio is already a few steps ahead on vetting a replacement.
In the meantime, we at least have plenty of big Marvel movies to keep us busy this summer.
If you're looking for more science fiction films to check out, dig into the sci-fi section on Peacock.