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The Ending Of 2005's Fantastic Four Explained

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is one of the most successful movie series the world has ever known. But the mighty franchise is currently lacking some of the most successful characters Marvel Comics ever created: namely, the superhero family team known as the Fantastic Four, who debuted in the comics in 1961.

Of course, Hollywood has tried to bring the First Family of Marvel Comics to the big screen at various points. One such attempt was made in 2005 with "Fantastic Four," starring Ioan Gruffudd as Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic, Jessica Alba as Susan Storm aka Invisible Woman, Chris Evans as Johnny Storm aka the Human Torch, Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm aka the Thing, and Julian McMahon as Victor Von Doom aka Doctor Doom.

The movie adheres somewhat faithfully to the characters' comic origins as hotshot scientist Reed leads the others on a mission in outer space that results in them getting various superpowers. While Reed, Susan, Johnny, and Ben struggle to decide how to use their powers for good and how to live normal lives, Victor dreams of using his abilities for selfish and dangerous reasons. Let us break down the ending of "Fantastic Four" and where it leaves the main characters in terms of potential sequels. 

Parting ways

Apart from getting powers in space, Reed, his ex-girlfriend Susan, best friend Ben, and Susan's younger brother Johnny suffer from dramatic changes to their bodies — particularly Ben, who is transformed into a large rock monster whose frightening appearance causes his fiancé to break up their engagement. 

Reed swears he will use his intellect to help cure their bodies and change Ben back to normal, but as the story reaches the third act, Ben feels that Reed is not working fast enough looking for a cure. Victor also poisons Ben's mind against Reed, leading to a blowout between Reed and Ben that ends with them getting physical until Susan stops them, causing Ben to storm off on his own. 

On the other hand, Johnny has been reveling in his new powers and his celebrity status. He has no desire to go back to being a regular guy. That leads to another argument with Susan, and Johnny also leaves the group. Since Susan and Reed are already dealing with personal resentments due to their past failed love affair, the so-called Fantastic Four members find themselves scattered apart and vulnerable, leaving the door wide open for Victor Von Doom's manipulations. 

Reed gets reckless

While Reed Richards might be a superhero, he sees himself first and foremost as a scientist and is more interested in using his brain to solve a problem rather than his fists. Reed also feels a great deal of guilt over leading the space mission that almost cost Sue and the others their lives, and turned Ben into a deformed rock monster shunned by society. 

To make up for his sins, Reed starts working on a machine that in theory should replicate the effects of the cosmic cloud that gave them their powers. Reed's biggest worry is that the machine is not working as it should, and needs more time to be perfected. But Reed finds his back pushed against a wall after a fight with his best friend Ben, who feels Reed is not doing enough to make him normal again. 

In a fit of recklessness brought about by guilt and desperation, Reed elects to use the machine on his own body to test its effects. The results are not pretty, as Reed's body starts disassembling rapidly and he loses control over his stretching ability. This was the moment Victor had been waiting for, as he finally reveals himself in his supervillain form to Reed and Sue and announces his plans for world domination. 

Ben teams up with Victor

With a name like Victor Von Doom. you can bet the character will turn out to be super evil before the movie is over. At first, Victor is presented as a successful businessman, scientist, and romantic rival to Reed for Susan's affection. But after getting his own set of superpowers that he keeps private, Victor rapidly begins his journey toward becoming the dreaded Doctor Doom.

Before taking over the world, Victor knows he will need to dispose of Reed and his three superpowered allies. The most dangerous among them is Ben, whose massive strength and tough, rocky skin can pose a serious threat to Doom's might. For the sake of eliminating Ben from the equation, Doom convinces him to use Reed's experimental machine to turn himself human again.

Thanks to a surge of power personally supplied by Doom, Ben successfully returns to his human body. The process also accelerates the mutation of Doom's biology, giving him a major boost of power. A dumbfounded Ben can only look on in horror as Doom finally reveals his true intentions and sends Ben flying with a blow, before turning his attention to Reed and the remaining members of the Fantastic Four.    

Susan dumps Victor

It is revealed early on in "Fantastic Four" that Reed and Susan used to date each other. The relationship did not end well. Even though Susan truly loved Reed, his obsession with his work got in the way of their romance, and the two parted ways on a bitter note, with each thinking they had been dumped by the other. 

At the start of the movie, Susan is dating Victor Von Doom. Unlike Reed, Susan says that Victor is not afraid to go after what he wants — a quality that she finds desirable in him — but it is hinted that Susan does not actually love Victor. After the space incident, Reed and Susan are forced to spend a lot of time together again, which rekindles their old feelings for each other.

Meanwhile, Victor is on a separate path to supervillainy, a path that makes him hate Reed more and more while leading him further away from Susan. By the time Victor turns into Doctor Doom, any lingering affection between himself and Susan is wiped away as the two attack each other, and Susan finally moves on from dating Victor to being with Reed. 

Johnny gets humbled

While "Fantastic Four" can get pretty heavy at times with its themes of body horror, broken friendships, and becoming social outcasts, one character who is having the time of his life pretty much throughout the film's run time is Johnny Storm. After discovering his superpowers, Johnny is not saddened so much as thrilled. 

The character starts out as a pretty self-centered individual and ends the film on pretty much the same note. But the novelization of the movie adds an important moment of personal growth for Johnny near the end. In the movie, Johnny declares he is leaving the Fantastic Four to go solo, but then he rushes back to help after witnessing strange energy signals emanating from Reed's home. 

In the novel, when Johnny leaves the others, he runs into a girl he recognizes from a magazine. After he tries to hit on her, the girl informs Johnny that she already has a boyfriend. She also chews Johnny out for being a selfish person and states that she would use her powers to help the world if she was in his position. This interaction makes Johnny realize he is being selfish in abandoning his sister and friends, which prompts his return to join the others in the climactic fight against Doom. 

The four reunite

What sets the "Fantastic Four" comics apart is the family dynamic that lies at the center of the stories. The characters are emotionally bonded to each other in a way that teams like the Avengers and X-Men are not. This family bond gets tested in the movie, where Reed and Susan are not yet married.

In fact, the duo has lingering resentments because of that failed romance in the past. Still, Reed, Susan, Ben, and Johnny are forced to live together while Reed figures out how to make them normal again. After the pressure builds up all through the movie, a major bust-up occurs when Johnny and Ben leave the group, which coincides with Doctor Doom revealing himself to the world.

Reed and Susan try to stop Doom on their own, but his power is more than a match for them. Johnny is quick to return to the group, stepping in to save his sister after Doom attacks him with a heat-seeking missile. The task of avoiding the missile forces Johnny to finally master his ability to fly. Ben also rejoins the group, having willingly changed himself back into a rock monster to stop Doom.   

Johnny goes supernova

With Reed and Susan being joined by Johnny and Ben, their odds against Doctor Doom rise considerably, but it is still not enough. Doom's own mutations have given him a range of powers including super strength, electrical force fields, and metallic skin. With so many advantages, Doom refuses to go down against the Fantastic Four.

It doesn't help that the superhero teammates are still getting used to their powers and lack cohesion during combat. Reed does his best to keep up the assault by attacking Doom at close quarters while the others struggle to get through Doom's defenses. In the end, Reed realizes that the only way to stop the supervillain is to turn his superpower into a weakness. 

Reed tells Johnny to increase his heat radiation levels by going supernova. Trusting Reed's instinct, Johnny encases Doom in a cocoon of super hot fire. While Susan places a force field around the fire to protect civilians from the devastating heat, Ben uses a fire hydrant to rapidly cool Doom's superheated metallic body. The resulting chemical reaction fuses Doom's skin in place, turning him into a statue.  

The characters make some decisions

In the aftermath of saving the world from Doom, Reed and his allies take stock of their situation in a new light and make some life-changing decisions. For Reed, this means telling Susan about his feelings for her. Susan then admits that she also loves Reed, and the two get engaged.

Ben comes to terms with the fact that he has been fundamentally changed by the events at the start of the movie. Instead of wallowing in self-loathing, he decides to accept his new appearance and superpowers and makes up with Reed as well. Ben also starts a relationship with Alicia Masters (Kerry Washington), a woman who is able to look past his medical condition and appreciate the man under the rock body. 

Finally, there is Johnny, who continues to remain the cocky and carefree team member who actually loves his powers and enjoys being in the public eye. Johnny shows a newfound appreciation for the family when he continues to stick on with Susan and the others instead of going solo as a superhero as he had previously threatened.   

Doom lives

With the Fantastic Four having won the day, what remains of Doom at the end of the movie? The character was last seen being turned into a statue by the superheroes, and his new condition makes it difficult to jail the guy in a regular manner. Rather confusingly, instead of getting taken away by police authorities, Doom's body is transported back to his home country of Latveria. 

While the world of Latveria is not focused on much in the movie, the country has major significance in the comics. Latveria is similar to Wakanda in that they are both independent and highly advanced nations governed by a monarch. In the case of Latveria, that monarch is Doom himself, at least in the comics, where he rules Latveria with a (literal) iron fist.

All of that is not shown in the movie, but you do get a hint that something more will be coming in future movies from Latveria and especially Doom's side. While being transported in his statue state, it is shown that a smidgen of electrical interference still exists around Doom, hinting that the character did not die despite being caught at the center of a supernova blast, and that Doctor Doom still lives to cause trouble for the world and the Fantastic Four. 

Becoming superhero celebrities

2005's "Fantastic Four" puts most of its focus on how Reed and the others got their superpowers and how they learned to cope with them. The nature of the story is such that there is little room left for any external viewpoints, and a large chunk of the movie is spent with Reed and company in their research lab while they work on finding a cure for their mutations. 

Because of this approach to telling their origin story, you don't really get a chance to see how the rest of the world reacts to the Fantastic Four except Johnny Storm, who has no problem flaunting his powers for fame on television. But that changes by the end of the movie when the Fantastic Four finally emerge from their home to stop Doctor Doom from wreaking havoc on the world. 

Now that the four are officially a superhero team, the sequel movie, "Rise of the Silver Surfer," shows that Reed and his superpowered family have essentially become celebrities for humanity, with Reed and Susan's wedding being treated like a pop culture landmark event. The team is also important to the government, as evidenced by the military's desire to work with the Fantastic Four to stop the Silver Surfer.  

Shaking up the superhero world

Although 2005's "Fantastic Four" did reasonably good numbers at the box office, the movie was not well-received by critics. The lack of action, campy comedic tone, and taking a superhero team known for their cosmic adventures and sticking them in a building for a lot of the film's runtime were considered baffling creative decisions by fans. 

Still, the movie was successful enough to greenlight a sequel which was released in 2007. This time the action was kicked up several notches with the introduction of the Silver Surfer, and one of Marvel Comics' most iconic villains, the mighty Galactus. Once again the film suffered from puzzling creative decisions, like turning Galactus into a giant cloud creature. 

The lukewarm reception to the sequel put the final nail in the coffin for that iteration of the "Fantastic Four" franchise. The criticisms leveled at the series would later lead the studio to attempt a gritty, dark reboot in 2015, which proved an even bigger disappointment at the box office and behind the scenes. The best thing that can be said to have come out of the premature end of the "Fantastic Four" series is that it freed Chris Evans up to play another Marvel Comics character with much greater success.  

The planned threequel

While 2005's "Fantastic Four" and its sequel were not well-received by critics at the time of their release, the two movies have been viewed more kindly in retrospect. Newer fans have come to appreciate the warm, family atmosphere of the short-lived series and the excellent casting of the lead characters — particularly Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm. 

For such fans, it can be sad to learn that there were plans to make a third movie in the series that the studio canceled after "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" underperformed at the box office. The main cast had signed on for a three-movie plan, and more than one of them expressed a desire to create a complete trilogy with a second sequel to "Fantastic Four." 

Even more intriguingly, the director of "Fantastic Four" and its sequel, Tim Story, expressed a desire to make a third film that introduces the first live-action version of Black Panther. With the addition of characters like Silver Surfer, Black Panther, and Franklin Richards, "Fantastic Four Part 3" could have given 2012's "The Avengers" a run for its money. Too bad that possibility will only ever remain a pipe dream — unless the MCU someday decides to expand its multiverse to include the 2005 version of the Fantastic Four, that is.