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Rumor Report: Will The Fantastic Four Reboot Introduce The MCU's Most Powerful Character?

After 20th Century Fox's final attempt to revive the gene-altered Fantastic Four team for a feature film failed miserably, news of Marvel Studios' plan to do its own Fantastic Four reboot came as quite a shock, to say the least. But that's now eclipsed by the rumor that a powerful comics character may be attached to the team's big-screen comeback. 

We Got This Covered is reporting that Disney and Marvel are considering introducing the mighty mutant Franklin Richards to the Marvel Cinematic Universe through the forthcoming Fantastic Four reboot.

Described by the site as "the most powerful superhero to ever appear in Marvel Comics," Franklin Richards is the child of the Fantastic Four's iconic couple Invisible Woman and Mr. Fantastic, otherwise known as Susan "Sue" Storm and Reed Richards. The Richards famously developed their superhuman powers after being exposed to cosmic radiation during a space flight expedition, but their son obtained his powers at birth. Created by comics legends Jack Kirby and Stan Lee and first appearing in 1968's Fantastic Four Annual #6, Franklin was born after a pregnancy that nearly killed his mother. His genetic structure is altered like his parents', meaning Franklin's superhuman powers manifested fast and furiously. This created dangerous situations for his allies and his enemies alike, and as a result, Franklin eventually restricted his powers until he reached psychological maturity. 

In the vein of fellow Omega-level mutants like Storm, Magneto, Wanda Maximoff, Emma Frost, and Jean Grey, Franklin's full Omega-power registers beyond a definable limit. Granted the ability to manipulate particle energy, molecular structures, and even reality, Franklin has also been depicted as having powers of telepathy, telekinesis, precognition, time travel, energy blasting, and superhuman durability. His capabilities are so impressive he's been compared to Marvel's Celestials, a race of humanoid aliens who came into being around the same time as the universe itself. In the future, Franklin is only one of two beings around to witness the total end of the universe. 

Both Franklin's superhero moniker (he's gone by aliases like Powerhouse and Tattletale) and age (at least in the comics-verse) are vague, only increasing the mystery surrounding his rumored arrival onto the big screen. Also contributing to the uncertainty Franklin's presence in the Marvel comics. He's been a part of so much throughout the Fantastic Four's decades-long comics history — perhaps even too much to even begin to get a concrete grasp on how he would fit into the Fantastic Four reboot and what his existence might mean for the titular team and the film's storyline. 

Any number of Franklin's iterations – from his early days in Power Pack, a team of kids who possess superhuman powers, to his role in the Human Torch-less Future Foundation — could feature in the forthcoming flick. That rich a backstory could present a ton of headaches for Marvel Studios as executives and creatives as they try to figure out a way to introduce Franklin as the son of Sue Storm and Reed Richards and explain his powers without spoon-feeding exposition to the audience. Would the effort really be worth it? We can't say for certain, but this is far from the first time Franklin's been rumored to appear in a Fantastic Four film. 

This isn't the first live-action Franklin Richards rumor

In June 2017, Fox reportedly considered bringing Franklin Richards into the live-action sphere. According to Bleeding Cool, there were rumors that Fox was eyeing a possible kids-centric film set in the Fantastic Four universe that featured Franklin and his younger sister Valeria, along with appearances by The Thing and the Human Torch. The site claimed that the film would have come from The LEGO Batman Movie co-writer Seth Grahame-Smith. Those rumors resurfaced in July 2017, around the time that it was announced Legion showrunner Noah Hawley had a Doctor Doom film in development. While Fox seemed more than happy to forget about the entire 2015 Fantastic Four reboot debacle, it did appear that the studio was interested in mining the heroes' considerable cinematic universe potential. 

Now that Fox and Disney have merged, with the House of Mouse buying the majority of the company's assets in a multi-billion-dollar deal, it's probable that Disney has scraped Fox's previous plans for any Fantastic Four-adjacent characters in favor of their own — especially as we already know Disney has killed several projects on Fox's development slate. This suggests that Disney and Marvel may not introduce Franklin into the MCU through the planned Fantastic Four reboot. 

On the flip side, the studio convergence has apparently paved the way to reboot heaven, with Disney CEO Bob Iger already confirming that Fox properties like Home Alone and Night at the Museum will take on a new life at Disney+. The Mouse House is clearly invested in expanding its family-centric narratives, and though the Fantastic Four franchise can fall in the wheelhouse of intense superhero-action films, Franklin's rumored arrival could open up the chance for more of a family-focused superhero team-up.

Looking at both sides, though, it's very much a case of "maybe but maybe not" when it comes to sussing out whether Franklin Richards really will be in Marvel's Fantastic Four reboot. There's no way to tell for certain either way without a statement from Marvel brass themselves. 

The presence of Franklin Richards makes for interesting crossover potential

Assuming Franklin may actually make his way onto the silver screen, the inclusion of the Richards' eldest son could spell exciting things for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its web of interconnected narratives. 

In one of Franklin's comics arcs, the powerful mutant faces off with Venom and Norman Osborn (a.k.a. Green Goblin) alongside his sister Valeria. Though Sony and Marvel underwent a Spider-Man break-up in August 2019, the split was short-lived and the two studios are working together again. We know Venom's a character Sony's firmly invested in, given the symbiote's sequel is set to premiere in 2020 alongside a litany of other Spider-Verse properties like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2, so there's a chance that he might seep into other corners of the MCU as it expands to include characters previously owned by Fox. It might be interesting to see both studios build out universes around their individual properties together, though the complexity of executing something like pitting Franklin Richards and Venom against one another keeps the probability low. 

The likelihood of a possible Eternals run-in seems higher. In Fantastic Four #604, Franklin Richards goes head-to-head with a version of the humanoid aliens known as Celestials on Earth-4280. After the "Mad Celestials" develop god complexes and attempt to conquer the Multiverse, Franklin hatches a time-traveling plot to take them down. Marvel's chief creative officer Kevin Feige has remained pretty tight-lipped about what Marvel Studios has planned for its Eternals film, but from what he has revealed, we know audiences should expect to "learn much more about [the Celestials'] agenda and what they've been up to." Along with the Eternals, Celestials have also already been attached to Guardians of the Galaxy (through Kurt Russell's Ego and Chris Pratt's Star-Lord, who is a Celestial hybrid) – making this an ideal thread to stitch together new and existing Marvel properties. 

But that's not even the most compelling potential story point that Franklin's possible MCU presence stirs. According to We Got This Covered, there's a rumored Fantastic Four plot that would see the team — already genetically altered — begin their journey in the '60s while working alongside Ant-Man's Hank Pym. The purported plot would somehow see the Fantastic Four get lost in the Negative Zone, an antimatter dimension full of serpent and insect-like creatures. They would, of course, escape and emerge in modern times in the end. While that plot is far from being confirmed, the Negative Zone does have a few direct connections to Franklin. 

As part of one plot in the Marvel comics, Reed travels with Johnny (the Human Torch) and Ben (The Thing) to the antimatter dimension to stop Sue and Franklin from dying. While there, the three men seize what's known as the Cosmic Control Rod from its buggy owner and "lord of the Negative Zone" Annihilus. With the rod, Reed can neutralize a strange form of energy that has taken up in Sue's cells and threatened both her and her unborn son's life. Coupled with the Pym plot, this might be a way to introduce Franklin and give the Fantastic Four a fresher spin on their team origins. In another instance, Franklin goes toe-to-toe with the dark, sentient, and scarily psychic entity known as Onslaught. Born from the consciousness of Professor X and Magneto, Onslaught crosses paths with Franklin at various stages in the Omega-mutant's life and throughout his power development. 

There are a handful of other ways Franklin's presence in the Fantastic Four reboot could go. At the end of the day, though, this is all just talk. Until Marvel comes forward with concrete information about the characters who will be in the new Fantastic Four movie, all we can do is think about the narrative possibilities the compelling character offers.