In Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, Stephen Strange meets the leader of the Fantastic Four, Reed Richards (played for the first and maybe last time by John Krasinski), after the Illuminati detains him in an alternate reality. In this universe, the Fantastic Four are an established group that works alongside the Avengers to defeat their version of Thanos.
From a comic standpoint, this is the norm. The Fantastic Four are an essential piece of the superheroes of Earth, but they are glaringly missing from the prime Earth of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. So why is this universe missing its Fantastic Four? The answer may come from a chaotic corner of the MCU.
Loki and the Fantastic Four?
The finale of Loki Season 1 revealed that the one behind the curtain of the TVA was He Who Remains, a variant of Kang the Conquer. But this characterization of He Who Remains differs from the comics. In the comics, He is not a variant of Kang. Michael Waldron, the Loki series writer, changed this connection, stating in an interview with The Playlist, “Because I knew Kang was coming down the pipe as a villain in the MCU, and it just felt too delicious to not have him intertwined in our time travel story somehow.”
But combining the characters of Kang and He Who Remains does a lot more than that. It helps establish the Multiverse Saga and starts a Butterfly Effect-esque ripple that intrinsically links the Fantastic Four to Kang. Not only are they lifelong adversaries, but they might just be family too…
The Kang family tree is a tangle of time-traveling roots and branches. According to the official Marvel Comics website, Reed Richards is distantly related to Kang through Reed's father, Nathaniel Richards. However, the comics and supporting material are often vague and contradictory in this manner. In some places, it is inferred that Reed is Kang's ancestor, while Victor von Doom holds that alleged title in other places. This linage question is twisted repeatedly throughout the comics, leaving the truth obscured. Trust me, It’s a mess. Marvel Studios has an opportunity to use this genealogical vagueness to its advantage. Marvel Studios could use this Kang/Richards family connection to explain where the Fantastic Four have been.
Here's where we get into a bit of speculation. Marvel Studios has never shied away from changing Marvel comic lore to suit its own narrative design. Civil War and Thor: Love and Thunder are just two of the very loose adaptions of their comic counterparts. Changing He Who Remains into a Kang Varient and descendant of Reed Richards is a clever way to explain the location of the Fantastic Four.
He Who Remains is in the Kang avoidance and elimination business. His "Sacred Timeline" aims to prevent his varients from rising up and starting another multiversal war. Essentially, He Who Remains prunes anyone and anything that threatens his timeline. Chief among them is other Kangs.
So if Reed Richards is confirmed to be a distant ancestor of Kang, that will likely explain why the Fantastic Four are suspiciously missing in the MCU. He Who Remains would have pruned them and everything associated with them to prevent a Kang from entering his Sacred Timeline. No Reed Richards equals No Kang. The Four and every connection to them in the MCU was sent to the Void where the monstrous Alioth should have put an end to them. But what if they survived? After Sylvie plunged a sword into He Who Remains chest, the Multiverse is wide open, the timeline is uncontrolled, and the Fantastic Four can finally escape and return home.
The Road to Avengers: Kang Dynasty
If the Fantastic Four were pruned and spent years in the Void, it would give Marvel the perfect set-up for the upcoming Fantastic Four and Avengers: Kang Dynasty films. The Void provides the much-needed explanation for their exclusion and avoids retreating old ground. The MCU has enough origin stories. This way, they wouldn’t be the new kids on the block but returning heroes. A fully formed and battle-ready team will play better than a quick origin story.
Debuting the Fantastic Four in Loki Season 2 would fit a running pattern in the MCU. Marvel previously used the horned-helmeted god of mischief to bring together the Avengers in 2012. And Season 1 laid the framework for our current Multiverse Saga. You might say Loki is the official master of ceremonies for the MCU.
While this theory makes a lot of sense, there’s one obvious catch. Marvel Studios has yet to actually cast the Fantastic Four. So even if Loki Season 2 does introduce the team, we almost certainly won’t see them onscreen. Instead, we’ll likely learn that some group of people escaped the Void after the death of He Who Remains — specifically three people and what looks to be a rock monster.
And if we are fortunate, perhaps they had some friends that were banished there as well, friends with Xs on their jumpsuits.