The Fantastic Four are known as “Marvel’s First Family” for a reason. Their success helped launch the Marvel Comics universe, leading to the current Marvel-dominated pop culture world we live in now. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1961, their concept centered on flawed, bickering “normal” people, telling stories about what would happen if they got fantastic powers. This concept changed comics forever. With their upcoming entrance into the MCU, here’s a handy guide to the Fantastic Four and their Marvel Comics history.

The Fantastic Four in the '80s and '90s, art by John Byrne and Alan Davis.
Marvel Comics

Who Are the Fantastic Four?

Marvel Comics

Although the Fantastic Four has had various members over the years, the principals since 1961 have been Reed Richards (Mister Fantastic), Susan Storm (the Invisible Woman), her brother Johnny Storm (the Human Torch), and Benjamin J. Grimm (the Thing). Eventually, Reed and Sue marry, making Sue’s brother Johnny Reed’s brother-in-law. When Reed and Sue’s son Franklin is born, Ben becomes his godfather, therefore making the team a true nuclear family.

How Did the Fantastic Four Get Their Powers and What Are They?

Marvel Comics

In their first origin story from Fantastic Four #1 1961, written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby, the Fantastic Four received their amazing gifts when scientific genius Reed Richards convinced his friends to steal an experimental rocket to head into space. This was all in an effort to beat the Soviets to the moon. He took his best friend from college, pilot Ben Grimm, along with his girlfriend, Susan Storm. Her teenage brother, a hot rod racer named Johnny, tagged along.

Marvel Comics

While in space, cosmic rays bombarded their rocket ship. This triggered a cellular transformation, granting each of them incredible powers. When they crash landed back on Earth, they discovered they had become something more than human. They became adventurers and public heroes, operating out of the Baxter Building in New York. Soon, the media dubbed them the Fantastic Four. A wave of heroes would follow in their wake.

Reed Richards (Mister Fantastic)

Marvel Comics

Mister Fantastic has the ability to stretch his limbs and contort his body into almost any shape. His stretching ability allows his skin to become malleable, and almost invulnerable. He’s mastered this ability to allow himself to change his appearance, and bulk up and become super strong. But Reed’s true power is his intellect. Mister Fantastic is easily the smartest person in the Marvel Universe, and that’s his greatest asset.

Susan Storm (Invisible Woman)

Marvel Comics

Susan Storm (later Susan Richards), has the power to make herself and those around her invisible to the naked eye. At first, she thought she could only turn herself invisible. She can also create incredible invisible force fields, which can even protect from psychic attacks. She is likely the most powerful member of the group.

Johnny Storm (The Human Torch)

Marvel Comics

Johnny Storm has the ability to ignite fire onto his body, without harming himself. He can also project intense heat. He can use the power of this heat to “flame on,” and propel himself through the air and fly. His heat levels can vaporize bullets or projectiles coming at him, and he can even absorb ambient heat around and “go nova.” He can precisely control his flame, even making it as tiny as a scalpel if need be.

Ben Grimm (The Thing)

Marvel Comics

Unlike his teammates, Benjamin J. Grimm cannot go back and forth between his human form and his superpowered self. He’s forever trapped in the form of a bulked-up orange rock creature. As the Thing, Grimm has incredible super strength, enough to go toe-to-toe with the Hulk on a regular basis. But he’d trade it all to be a regular human being again.

Other Marvel Members of the Fantastic Four

Marvel Comics

Other famous temporary members have included the robot H.E.R.B.I.E., She-Hulk, and Crystal and Medusa of the Inhumans. Black and Panther and Storm have been members, as has Ant-Man (Scott Lang) and Luke Cage. A “new” Fantastic Four was once formed in the ’90s, which featured Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, the Hulk, and Wolverine. For a time, the second Ms. Marvel, Sharon Ventura, was a member. Eventually, she became the She-Thing. Johnny Storm’s Skrull wife Lyja was also on the roster. Reed and Susan Richards’ own children, Franklin and Valeria, have also been part of the team despite their young age.

The Fantastic Four’s Major Marvel Comics Villains

Marvel Comics

The Fantastic Four has one of the finest rogues’ galleries in all of comics. Among their villains are the subterranean Mole Man, Annihilus, Lord of the Negative Zone, the Super Skrull, an alien shapeshifter with all their powers, the Puppet Master, and the alien despot Blastaar. Other major villains include Ronan the Accuser, Diablo, Namor the Sub-Mariner, the Frightful Four, Molecule Man, and the Dragon Man. But two Fantastic Four villains stand out above the rest.

Doctor Doom

Marvel Comics

Victor Von Doom first appeared in Fantastic Four #5, and quickly became the team’s foremost nemesis. The ruler of the Eastern European country of Latveria, Doom was an old college frenemy of Reed Richards, and one of the only people alive who can match his intellect. But he forever blames Reed for a lab accident that scarred his face, forcing him to wear a metal mask. Doom has intense jealousy towards Reed, believing no one should rival his own genius. Doom masters not only science, but also sorcery. He’s since become not only the Fantastic Four’s most lethal nemesis, but also fought the Avengers, the X-Men, Spider-Man, and just about everyone in the Marvel Universe. Doom is perhaps the Fantastic Four’s greatest single contribution to the Marvel universe.


Marvel Comics

The Fantastic Four’s other most iconic villain is Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds. Not so much a person as a force of nature, Galactus first appeared in 1967’s Fantastic Four #48. He has existed since before this universe was born, and needs to consume the energy of planets to survive. He sends his herald, the Silver Surfer, to scout living planets to absorb. The Fantastic Four was able to stop him, but they’ve had to confront him time and time again. A version of Galactus that was a living cloud was in Rise of the Silver Surfer, but rumor has it that a proper version of the character will appear in Marvel Studios’ Fantastic Four.

A History of Fantastic Four Movies and TV


Marvel’s First Family has had a long and tangled history in Hollywood. They had TV cartoons in the ’60s, ’70s, ’90s, and ”00s, to varying degrees of success. Because of their popularity, their movie rights were optioned to different studios in different eras. An extremely low-budget film was made for a mere $1 million in 1994, as a way of producers maintaining the rights to the franchise. It was never released officially, although bootlegs of it have circulated for years. It would be another decade before a proper Fantastic Four film hit theaters.

Marvel/Twentieth Century Films

20th Century Studios ended up with the rights to the characters, and in the wake of the tremendous success of their X-Men films, they released a Fantastic Four film in 2005. Directed by Tim Story, it starred Ioan Gruffudd as Reed Richards, Jessica Alba as Sue Storm, Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm, and Chris Evans as Johnny Storm. The film did decently at the box office and garnered a sequel two years later, Rise of the Silver Surfer. The second film did not do as well, killing prospects for a third. Eight years later, a reboot with a new cast came out, with Miles Teller as Reed, Kate Mara as Sue, Michael B. Jordan as Johnny, and Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm. The Josh Trank-directed film completely tanked at the box office, and critics hated it. But with Disney’s purchase of Fox, an MCU Fantastic Four was announced in 2020.

The MCU’s The Fantastic Four Movie

Marvel Studios

Director and Cast

The recently announced cast for The Fantastic Four includes Pedro Pascal as Reed Richards, Vanessa Kirby as Susan Storm, Joseph Quinn as Johnny Storm, and Ebon Moss-Bachrach as the Thing. WandaVision director Matt Shakman is helming the film, set for release in the summer of 2025.

What to Expect from the MCU Fantastic Four Movie

We don’t know what the actual plot of The Fantastic Four is just yet, but clues point to a period piece set in the team’s comic book heyday of the 1960s. Speculation runs rampant that the main villain will be Galactus, hoping to course correct after The Rise of the Silver Surfer depicted him into a giant cloud. We’ll find out for sure when The Fantastic Four hits theaters on July 25, 2025.