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Marvel’s Fantastic Four director Jon Watts has left the project

Published May 1st, 2022 1:21PM EDT
Image: Marvel Studios

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“Jon Watts will direct the new feature film for Marvel’s First Family, Fantastic Four!” That’s what Marvel said in mid-December 2020 about one of the most anticipated reboots in the history of superhero movies.

Now that Disney owns Fox, Marvel can use the Fantastic Four in the same universe as the Avengers and all the other MCU superheroes. But Marvel has not offered any updates on the Fantastic Four reboot since then. We’ve had to speculate on the film’s potential release date, especially considering the numerous MCU delays in recent years.

Still, we expected Marvel to announce the Fantastic Four cast soon, especially considering all the rumors. But now we’ve just learned that Spider-Man director Jon Watts abandoned the project. As a result, there might be additional Fantastic Four delays. Mind you, some spoilers might follow below.

The Marvel delays

The COVID-19 lockdowns from the first half of 2020 forced Marvel to delay the entire MCU Phase 4 roster. More delays ensued in 2021, although not all of them were related to the pandemic.

Films like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness were not ready in time, so Marvel pushed back the entire Phase 4 release schedule that followed the sequel. This implied that Fantastic Four would see further delays. But again, Marvel never committed to a release window for the reboot.

Director Jon Watts’s departure is the latest negative development for the Fantastic Four project. Something similar happened with Doctor Strange 2 in early 2020 when Scott Derrickson left the project. However, the pandemic delays gave Marvel ample time to adapt. The studio brought in Sam Raimi to take over, and the film will hit theaters next week.

Reports said that creative differences convinced Derrickson to abandon the Strange project. It’s different for Watts, according to Deadline. After spending seven years on the MCU’s Spider-Man franchise, the director wants to take a break from the superhero genre.

Fantastic Four teaser from Marvel movies promo clip
Fantastic Four teaser from Marvel movies promo clip. Image source: Marvel Studios

When will Marvel announce the Fantastic Four release date?

“Making three Spider-Man films was an incredible and life-changing experience for me,” Watts said. “I’m eternally grateful to have been a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for seven years. I’m hopeful we’ll work together again, and I can’t wait to see the amazing vision for Fantastic Four brought to life.”

Marvel’s Kevin Feige and Louis D’Esposito also confirmed Watts’s departure, without offering any updates on the movie. It’s unclear when the company will announce its new Fantastic Four cast and release date at this point. Or whether we’ll have to wait even longer for the movie to hit theaters. Marvel never offered a release date estimate, so we can’t really talk about delays.

But it’s unclear how soon Marvel can get a replacement for Watts. The search for a new director who is able to start work on Fantastic Four soon could lead to additional delays.

“Collaborating with Jon on the Spider-Man films has been a true pleasure,” Feige and D’Esposito said. “We were looking forward to continuing our work with him to bring the Fantastic Four into the MCU but understand and are supportive of his reasons for stepping away. We are optimistic that we will have the opportunity to work together again at some point down the road.”

John Krasinski Captain America
Still from deepfake video imagining what John Krasinski’s Captain America would look like. Image source: YouTube

One cast surprise might be coming soon

Regardless of when Fantastic Four starts shooting, we might get our first taste of the First Family later this week. Rumors say that Mister Fantastic is one of the Illuminati in Doctor Strange 2. Some reports claim that John Krasinski is playing the superhero.

But no matter who plays the character — or if Mister Fantastic shows up in the film — we’ll soon see the first MCU version of this hero. Even though we might be looking at a variant hailing from an alternate universe who doesn’t end up playing Mister Fantastic in the reboot.

More Marvel coverage: For more MCU news, visit our Marvel guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.