Marvel Needs To Bring Together The Best Fantastic Four Team

Our writer thinks Marvel needs to bring the classic patchwork Fantastic Four team of Ghost Rider, Hulk, Spider-Man, and Wolverine to the MCU.

By Michileen Martin | Published

marvel fantastic four
From the cover of New Fantastic Four #3 Marvel Comics 2022

Now, don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying Marvel should forget entirely about the classic original Fantastic Four line-up of Mister Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch, and the Thing. I’m not even necessarily suggesting that the four traditionally lone wolf heroes pictured above should “officially” become an FF line-up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’m simply suggesting that this classic team-up of Ghost Rider, Hulk, Spider-Man, and Wolverine needs to happen either on the big screen, in a Disney+ TV series, in a Disney+ special present; heck, I’d take an episode of What If…?

In the world of comic book fandom, Walt Simonson is best known for his epic run as both penciler and writer on Thor. He may not have been one of the co-creators of Marvel’s Thor (that honor goes to Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Larry Lieber), but his impact on the mythology was such that I’m confident in writing that if you have seen a single Thor movie, then you’ve seen stories inspired by his work. But too often forgotten among his Marvel portfolio is Simonson’s run on Fantastic Four.

Arguably Simonson’s most memorable contribution to Marvel’s Fantastic Four unfolds between 1990-1, in Fantastic Four #347-349. The gray Hulk (best known these days as Joe Fixit), Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Ghost Rider are fooled by the Skrull villain De’Lila–posing as Sue Richards aka the Invisible Woman–into believing the rest of the original FF have been murdered. The patchwork group of good guys vows to become the new Fantastic Four and to bring the original FF’s killers to justice.

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Fantastic Four #348 Marvel Comics 1991

Aided by the gorgeous artwork of Art Adams who drew the four Marvel heroes on the cover and the interiors, Fantastic Four #348 was an instant classic. Not only was the team-up both irresistibly strange and unexpected, but it was doubtless clever commentary on the part of Walt Simonson who was well aware the four heroes guest-starring in Fantastic Four were much bigger draws in the early nineties than the eponymous team. You may notice above the title–rather than what was usually there, “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine!”–the cover of Fantastic Four #348 calls it “The World’s Most Commercialest Comic Magazine!”

Even though Ghost Rider, Hulk, Spider-Man, and Wolverine are all brought together as Marvel’s “new” Fantastic Four under false pretenses, the popularity of the story has proven to endure to the point that all four are officially considered former members. Actually, a subsequent team-up of the four heroes leads to one of the title’s darkest moments. In 1993’s Fantastic Four #374, during a time when the Human Torch is wanted by the authorities, the “new” Fantastic Four reunites to convince the old team to turn Johnny Storm over.

Ever catch a glimpse of a nineties Marvel comic which shows the Thing wearing a shiny metal helmet and wonder why? It’s because when Marvel’s new and old FFs clash in Fantastic Four #374, Wolverine lashes out and gives Ben Grimm a nasty scar across his face.

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Thing scarred by Wolverine in 1993’s Fantastic Four #374

Marvel creators have paid tribute to this configuration of the Fantastic Four for years, in particular using alternate or warped reality stories to bring the team back to life. For example as part of the 2000 The Ages of Apocalypse event–not to be confused with the earlier Age of Apocalypse–we meet yet another version of this Fantastic Four in Wolverine #148, and this version actually wears the classic blue-and-white uniform.

Most recently, fan-favorite Incredible Hulk writer Peter David and artist Alan Robinson brought Marvel the ironically titled New Fantastic Four which is set right after the events of the first story that brought together Ghost Rider, Hulk, Spider-Man, and Wolverine. A priest who doesn’t know he was born with wish-granting powers unintentionally summons the four of them together to deal with a demonic threat. Along with great art and a fun story, in its final issue New Fantastic Four delivers a mid-battle quip so bad that the next panel really should’ve been Spider-Man groaning (it wasn’t).

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Johnny Storm delivers a horrible pun in New Fantastic Four #5 (Marvel Comics 2022) – I’m not sure if the demon is hurt more by the flame or by the pun.

Now all of this comic book history may be fun but how, you may ask, does any of it justify the Marvel Cinematic Universe replacing the OG Fantastic Four? It doesn’t, and I wouldn’t want FF fans to be robbed of the original four. All I’m suggesting is one team-up; a single gathering of Mark Ruffalo as Hulk, Tom Holland as Spider-Man, and whichever actors are ultimately chosen to play Ghost Rider and Wolverine respectively (assuming they aren’t Gabriel Luna and/or Hugh Jackman).

And for this desperate need on my part, you can blame the otherwise excellent 2013 video game LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. In the game, once you unlock the ability to return to completed levels with whatever hero line-up you choose, you get the opportunity to unlock new achievements.

Many of these achievements are fandom in-jokes; for example you can earn the “Don’t I Know You?” achievement by putting Captain America and Human Torch on the same line-up (because Chris Evans has played both on the big screen). You get the “Puny God” achievement for performing Hulk’s special move on Loki, which looks exactly like how Hulk trashes Loki in 2012’s Avengers.

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LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (2013)

However even though LEGO Marvel Super Heroes‘ fun achievements convinced me that if I assembled a New Fantastic Four line-up of Ghost Rider, Hulk, Spider-Man, and Wolverine on a level–which required a significant time investment in unlocking Ghost Rider as a playable character–that the game would have a secret achievement waiting for me… I was incorrect. I trashed Doctor Doom’s Latverian stronghold with those four heroes and my only reward was killing imaginary people with other imaginary people and, admittedly, that’s plenty fun.

Since LEGO Marvel Super Heroes failed me and any other New Fantastic Four fan hoping for that achievement, it is now Kevin Feige’s job to provide satisfaction. You know you want to do it, Feige.

Have Hulk and Wolverine have a fight in the middle of it–that alone would boost ticket sales. If John Krasinski wants to make another cameo that’s fine, but just let him know he’ll probably die again.

And we all deserve the chance–regardless of who’s playing him–to see Wolverine make Tom Holland cry. You know I’m right!