Cropped The Fantastic Four production artwork featuring Johnny Storm/The Human Torch

The Fantastic Four: Are We All Wrong About the MCU Reboot Being a Period Piece?

The Fantastic Four is still over a year away, yet most folks are already convinced Marvel Studios’ upcoming reboot is a period piece. But is that really the case?

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Certainly, there’s plenty of evidence backing up the period piece school of thought. The Fantastic Four cast announcement artwork by concept artist Wes Burt is bursting at the seams with throwback details. The logo, art style, character designs, and more all point to The Fantastic Four taking place in the 1960s. Maybe even 1961, tying in with the team’s real-world debut year. Indeed, how could it not?

Yet the most recent Fantastic Four tease has me thinking: maybe we’re all wrong about the reboot’s supposed period setting.

Does The Fantastic Four Take Place in the MCU’s Future?

The latest Fantastic Four promo image dropped on April 4 (or “4-4 Day,” as Marvel christened it). A production painting by artist Ryan Meinerding, it apes the retro vibes of Burt’s earlier illustration. Joseph Quinn’s Human Torch blazes a fiery four in the sky, all smiles and Camelot-era optimism.

It’s unmistakably 1960s in every conceivable way… except for the city skyline behind the Torch. That particular element doesn’t look like it belongs in 1961 or even 2024. It’s straight-up futuristic, albeit in a way that reflects ’60s society’s conceptualizations of the future. So, will we leap forward on the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s timeline in The Fantastic Four, instead?

Related: Where in the MCU Timeline Will Fantastic Four (FF) Take Place?

Don’t rule it out. Sure, Marvel’s Fantastic Four comics unfold in the present day, the odd time-travel jaunt notwithstanding. But that doesn’t mean Marvel Studios has to follow suit. On the contrary, The Fantastic Four director Matt Shakman could easily jump ahead years on the MCU’s timeline. There’s even another clue (other than Meinerding’s artwork) that he’s doing just that. Julia Garner recently joined the production as Shalla-Bal/Silver Surfer – a character exclusive to the Earth X comics. Earth X‘s setting? A good 30 years down the line.

Will Avengers: Secret Wars Set Up The Fantastic Four?

And even if The Fantastic Four does take place in the past, that doesn’t mean it’s the past of Earth-616/199999. There’s a whole multiverse of other Earths out there, besides the one where (almost) all of the MCU’s movies and TV shows go down. Maybe our new Fantastic Four hails from an alternate world that was super high-tech in the 1960s? If nothing else, this would neatly sidestep any issues inserting the FF into the mainstream MCU’s history would cause. True, the alternate past setting could confuse casual viewers, but we’re way past that point anyway.

Related: Fantastic Four: How Many Silver Surfers Are There in Marvel Canon?

Speaking of confusion, there’s another, even more complicated solution to the “period setting” conundrum. Avengers: Secret Wars drops in 2027 and Marvel Studios keeps hinting it’ll take its cues from 2015’s Secret Wars comics. As such, a full-blown reset of the existing MCU canon could be on the cards. Maybe The Fantastic Four will give us a sneak peek at this nu-MCU, introducing an overhauled timeline where our heroes operated in retro-futuristic 1960s New York. After all, Marvel Studios has done this before. Trailers for Spider-Man: Far From Home depicted the post-Blip status quo months before Avengers: Endgame‘s release.

Expect the Unexpected From the Fantastic Four Reboot

fantastic four concept art

But maybe I’m overthinking it. Maybe the futuristic skyline in the Fantastic Four 4-4 Day artwork has another, more mundane explanation. Heck, maybe Meinerding just liked the way it looked! Like one of Mister Fantastic’s experiments, the reboot is currently a complex series of variables. Yet I’d still bet the Baxter Building that The Fantastic Four isn’t a period piece – or, at the very least, not the kind we’re all expecting.

The Fantastic Four arrives in theaters on July 25, 2025.


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Author
Leon Miller
Leon is a freelance contributor at The Escapist, covering movies, TV, video games, and comics. Active in the industry since 2016, Leon's previous by-lines include articles for Polygon, Popverse, Screen Rant, CBR, Dexerto, Cultured Vultures, PanelxPanel, Taste of Cinema, and more.