The Fantastic Four is unquestionably one of the most important superhero teams in the history of Marvel, but has always been kept outside the gates of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thanks to the comic book company's bankruptcy in the 1990s, film rights to the heroes and all associated characters were sold off, and therefore they couldn't come to play with Iron Man, Captain America and Thor when they first made their way to the big screen a decade ago. Thankfully, barriers are now coming down due to the recently announced merger between Disney and Fox, but the situation presents its own special quandary: at this point, how do you properly go about introducing the Fantastic Four into canon?

There are many factors in play -- including the Fantastic Four movies that we've already seen, and the level of weirdness audiences are prepared to swallow narratively in a mainstream blockbuster -- but keeping them in consideration, we've determined four possible routes for the franchise to go. Read on for our explanations, and hit the comments section below with your own thoughts on how it should go down.

The Straight-Up Origin Story

Certainly the easiest approach towards introducing the Fantastic Four into the Marvel Cinematic Universe would be to do exactly what they have done with most major heroes to this point. One of their upcoming movies can simply be a classic origin story, explaining how Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm came together and then gained their special abilities. It's the most straight-forward way to establish the characters in canon, as well as the cleanest. It requires no back-bending alterations to the franchise as we know it today, and like every other series, could take basic steps towards setting up future sequels.

Of course, there is an obvious problem with this angle: it would be the third time fans have watched the origin story on the big screen. The two previous versions made by Tim Story and Josh Trank did take different tactics to the narrative, adapting the classic 1960s and Ultimate comics, respectively, but they effectively zapped any interest in seeing it all happen yet again (even within the MCU). Spider-Man was in literally the exact same position prior to his homecoming, and Marvel avoided the standard approach in favor of something different -- recognizing that his was a backstory audiences knew and didn't need to see beat-for-beat again. That might be the better way to go about things with the Fantastic Four as well, hence these other ideas...

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