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Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness Destroyed A Popular Fantastic Four Dream Casting

Contains spoilers for "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness"

After struggling to keep the appearances of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield completely under wraps for "Spider-Man: No Way Home," Marvel took a slightly different approach to marketing the film's Sam Raimi-directed follow-up appointment, "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." Kind of. Because while the studio did tease the senses-shattering appearance of The Illuminati — Marvel's secret society of heroes from the comics — and offered glimpses at some of their most exciting members, such as Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart complete with the original animated show's theme tune) and Hayley Atwell as Captain Carter, they also kept other members closer to the vest. 

Sure enough, when the movie namedropped the word "Baxter" and revealed the debut of an alternate universe version of Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic, fans lost their collective minds. Teleporting himself in, audiences were blessed with the arrival of long-time fan-casted star and director John Krasinski, whom comic book readers have been photoshopping into the role for years now. Krasinski, for his part, expressed interest as far back as 2018 (via Screen Rant). 

But just like every other member of this team of super know-it-alls, Krasinki's Reed meets a horrifying fate. And while it's possible that Reed's appearance here was simply setting up the character for a future in the prime MCU, it's also just as possible that this surprising appearance might've undone all the lengthy petitioning to put the actor in the role in the first place. The Marvel multiverse works in mysterious ways.

Marvel finally gave fans what they wanted by casting Mr. Fantastic ... before killing him

In the film, after Stephen Strange is given a brutal play-by-play regarding how his doppelgänger in this particular universe made a royal mess of things, the Illuminati's epic scathing of him is cut short when the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) breaches the premises. As audiences are still trying to process seeing Jim Halpert sitting with Professor X, their dreams quickly turn to nightmares, as Wanda takes down the Illuminati singlehanded. Cutting through these Marvel legends in a fashion that Omni-Man from "Invincible" would be impressed with, the pivotal scene sees Krasinski's long-awaited debut end with him being shredded into human string cheese. 

Logically, since this isn't the "primary" MCU Reed, the door is still wide open for Krasinski to star in the upcoming "Fantastic Four" reboot. However, for the exact same reason, the door is also wide open for another actor to take that role. 

In fact, it's entirely possible, if not probable, that Reed's debut here is a way for Marvel Studios to have it both ways: if Krasinski's Reed is a hit with viewers, and he's interested, they're fully able to cast him in "Fantastic Four," but if not, they can just as easily cast someone else. This fits with Joe Russo's previous description (per Deadline) of how Marvel's "grand plan" is a looser idea than most people think, with lots of room allowed for tinkering with the details based on fan reactions. Nonetheless, following such a clear-cut character execution on-screen, it begs the question of what this Reed's arrival and swift exit could mean for the future of the Fantastic Four ... and if a past poorly received decision from the studio might be repeating itself.

Is this Mr. Fantastic getting Bohner'd after Multiverse of Madness?

The last time fans saw a fan-favorite casting cut short in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Evan Peters rocked up in Westview as Wanda's deceased brother, Pietro Maximoff, in "WandaVision." It was a great surprise for fans, given that Peters had already played the character in 20th Century Studios' take on the character for the X-Men franchise. The appearance sparked the idea that Peters may be the first attempt at the properties intersecting following Disney's 2019 obtainment of the studio

Then, all hopes were dashed when the series revealed this Pietro to be a Westview local named (sigh) Ralph Bohner, controlled by Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn). 

Keeping that cruel twist in mind, Krasinski's brief appearance in "Multiverse of Madness" might bear the same bad fruit. Of course, the alternative is that fan enthusiasm pivots this to another level, because following Jon Watts' departure from the "Fantastic Four" reboot, fans have gotten very vocal about wanting to see Krasinski in the director's chair. If he does, it would presumably mean that he is following the same route he took with his well-received "A Quiet Place" franchise, by being both behind the camera and in front of it. 

Will it play out this way? That's the sort of question that only a cosmic rays-enhanced genius can answer. It's worth noting that while cap-wielding worldbuilder Kevin Feige did confirm Charlie Cox would return as Daredevil, he has given no statement (yet) on Reed. Might this silence suggest that another Reed Richards might be waiting in the wings — one that doesn't look like John Krasinski, after all? Or will we be getting a huge announcement about Krasinski both directing and starring in "Fantastic Four" mere weeks from now? Watch this space, true believers.