Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness failed Reed Richard before his proper debut in Marvel’s Fantastic Four (2025) in more than just one way. The Doctor Strange sequel featured John Krasinski as Reed Richards from Earth-838, a world in which the Fantastic Four and presumably the X-Men had both been around for a while. As the first Fantastic Four-related MCU appearance, Doctor Strange 2’s Reed Richards had the potential to set up the character’s future in the franchise.
Whether John Krasinski will play Reed Richards in Marvel’s Fantastic Four has yet to be revealed. Likewise, how exactly the Earth-616 Fantastic Four will come into play and interact with the Avengers after missing out on the entire Infinity Saga is also a mystery. Doctor Strange 2 did offer a glimpse at how Reed Richards and the Illuminati faced their version of Avengers: Infinity War.
Marvel’s Earth-838 Reed Richards Failed Against Thanos
Earth-838 Reed Richards telling Wanda how Black Bolt’s powers work may have been out of character for Mister Fantastic, but Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ real insult to Reed had to do with Thanos. Doctor Strange 2 establishes that, on Earth-838, Thanos was only defeated because Doctor Strange used the Darkhold, causing the death of trillions as a result of an Incursion. In other words, Reed Richards failed to protect Earth and the rest of the universe from Thanos, letting the situation escalate way more than it should have. Mr. Fantastic would never, or at least should never, let a situation get out of control that much.
Reed Richards’ moral compass may not be that different from Doctor Strange in the comics, but Mister Fantastic overall always has an answer for the biggest threats faced by the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. Not much is known about the MCU’s Earth-838, including whether the Avengers even existed by the time Thanos attacked Earth for the Infinity Stones, but still, Doctor Strange 2 made it seem like Reed Richards was powerless against Thanos. The MCU’s Earth-616 Avengers eventually defeated Thanos – Snap and Blip considered – in a far more effective way than the Earth-838 Illuminati team. That makes Reed Richards look less impressive compared to Tony Start or Scott Lang.
Marvel’s Fantastic Four Has To Nail Mister Fantastic Going Forward
Mister Fantastic’s real superpower is his intelligence, even though such an attribute does not steam from cosmic radiation or exposure to the Negative Zone. Reed Richards may not be as suitable for hand-to-hand combat as Iron Man or the Hulk, yet the Fantastic Four member can solve many of the problems the Marvel heroes face. Reed Richard’s intelligence can sometimes make him seem like an “OP character,” yet that aspect of Mr. Fantastic actually makes him a nuanced superhero. Reed Richards is dangerously intelligent, to the point he can sometimes put the Avengers and the Fantastic Four in danger without even realizing it.
For that to be translated into the MCU, Marvel’s Fantastic Four and future sequels have to nail Mister Fantastic. Not much could be asked of Reed Richard’s brief role in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but Reed did not leave a strong first impression overall. There was no contingency plan for something like Scarlet Witch attacking the Illuminati, nor was Reed able to find out that Doctor Strange was causing an Incursion before it was too late. From Fantastic Four to Avengers: Secret Wars, Marvel’s Phase 6 has the chance to establish how important Reed Richards and the Fantastic Four are to the entire multiverse.
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